Contrary to popular belief, the assumption that millennials have the tech landscape all figured out simply because of our age is a myth. There is actually a wide range of skill level among our generation when it comes to working effectively in a virtual environment. Many of us were coming of age as social media platforms took off, and have been navigating the concept of work-life integration since the introduction of the smart phone, yes. But here’s the thing: many of us also remember the Dewey Decimal system, dial-up internet connection, and the power of putting a pen to paper to fill out a day planner, too. We value human connection.
As we look ahead to the future of work, with many positions going partially or fully remote, there are many opportunities for professionals who are new to flexible arrangements and remote work to upskill around how to effectively hit those KPIs and thrive.
If you’re used to face to face engagement, how can you lean into the quick pivot of moving your work life completely online? Here are 5 tips to make the transition a little less daunting.
Set a Schedule
If you are completely new to working remotely, it’s critical that you set (and communicate) your schedule. If it’s not dictated for you, it may take some time to iron out the wrinkles, but setting a typical day schedule is critical to maintaining productivity, a workflow, and anchoring key project time and meetings. Start your day with a ritual like a fresh cup of coffee or tea, listening to your favorite podcast or getting in a quick yoga sequence, then check out your to-do list and prioritize key tasks, accomplishments, and relational touchpoints you have in mind for the day. Mitigate chaos by setting a schedule and communicating it with your team so no one is left guessing how to best get in touch with you.
Learn the Tools
With the flood of video and phone conferencing software out there, it could be overwhelming to pick one or two that works best for your needs. Dig into the resources that your company or organization already has built into their tech landscape and see what’s already available! Pretty much all technology tools have supplemental trainings and videos available to walk you through how to use the tool – it’s worth the extra 10 minutes to watch, listen, and test it out. That way, you’ll be ready to go when it’s time to set up or join a meeting if you’re not familiar with the UX.
It’s also important to consider what you are using the platform(s) for and who will engage with them (inside or outside of your organization), when you are trying to decide what’s optimal for the task at hand. Do you have a culture of phone conferences, or people on the go? Be sure to offer a dial-in option for individuals who are not sitting in front of a webcam. Want to promote connection and build relationships? Encourage participants to turn their video camera on for the meeting! Facilitating face to face engagement can still happen in a virtual environment – it just takes a bit of intention along the way.
Prioritize Effective Communication
Just because you aren’t face to face, doesn’t mean that you’re now communicating into a void. Identify the best channel for brainstorming, sharing information, and organizing / assigning action steps. If you have a lot of synchronous meetings, decide who will follow up with the group (or embed a shared collaborative document) to track key outcomes from the discussion and next steps. Sending an email or setting up a conference call? Make sure the people who need to be there are invited, so nothing gets lost in translation later. Working remotely may feel a bit strange if you are used to milling about in an office environment – but considering that you may be communicating with people across geographies, time zones, and cultures – setting up a working agreement or “mode of operation,” makes it clear how and where information will be shared to maximize everyone’s time and talent!
Get Back to Basics
Good old common sense is key when facilitating virtual work practices. Before you schedule a meeting, ask yourself: Does this need to be a meeting? How much time do we need to carve out for this conversation? If we have more time than is allotted, should I end this meeting early? How might I capture notes and delegate tasks? Most of these questions (and more) are things that you asked yourself when you were in a traditional office environment (I hope!), so don’t stop asking strategic questions when it comes to earmarking time with others.
Moving your work, meetings, and presentations to a virtual environment requires peak flexibility. Sometimes, the plan that you set for the day might change – because meetings run long, or technology fails you. Be prepared to embrace hiccups, and pivot when necessary. If you’re working from a remote environment and children or pets interrupt you, reframing these interruptions as “happy incidents” as much as you can, allows you to roll with it and stay focused on what’s ahead.
About Tiffany Waddell Tate
Tiffany Waddell Tate, Founder & CEO of Career Maven Consulting, is a career coach & talent development consultant. She helps people get good jobs and companies retain top talent through 1:1 coaching, speaking engagements, and learning & development workshops for individuals and teams. A master in coaching professionals to learn, lead, and grow at work, while being true to their authentic selves and building their personal brand – stay connected on Twitter and LinkedIn.