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6 Ways You Can Stand Out In A Virtual Work Environment

28 May 10:00 by Avery Blank

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While many jurisdictions are starting to ease stay-at-home orders, some organizations are allowing their employees to continue working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. To continue being the best professional you can be, take steps to maintain your presence. Make yourself heard and seen above the emails and endless video conferences.

Here are six ways you can stand out in a virtual work environment:

1.     Know the expectations, dress professionally, and be on time, just like being in the office.

There are some things that you should continue while working from home. If expectations about working from home are not shared, ask. If you are participating in a meeting that has a visual component, wear an outfit you would wear to the office. And continue to be on time for meetings and project deadlines. Successful people continue to act professionally and do not make excuses because they are working in a different location.

2.     Ensure your technology is working.

If you are working from home, make sure you have a solid internet connection. Make sure the camera and audio on your device work. You don’t want to frustrate your colleagues with interruptions due to technology hiccups. You want your technology running smoothly so that your colleagues focus on you.

When using the camera for a meeting, try to have good lighting. You don’t just want to be seen. You want to be seen well, just as if you were in the office.

3.     Align your work schedule with your manager and peers.

To make the most impact, work during the timeframe that most of your colleagues are working. Timing is key, suggests Anita Woolley, a professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University. Professor Woolley’s research discusses how the act of responding immediately to email creates bursts of energy and ideas. Being online when your colleagues are online could help you to be seen as productive, innovative, and exciting to work with.

If you live in a different time zone, try to align at least some part of your workday with your colleagues. But do not be online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Working too many hours of the day can sap your energy and productivity.

4.     Communicate clearly, thoroughly, concisely, regularly, and visually.

When you are working with people who are not in the same physical space, communication is critical. Be proactive. Provide periodic, brief updates. If you don’t hear from a colleague you are expected to hear from, contact the person. Suggest recurring meetings, if it helps. Ask yourself, “What and how much do I need to communicate to make my manager and peers comfortable and effective?”

If there is the possibility of misinterpretation, consider picking up the phone instead of sending an email. And, where possible, opt for a video conference. The more people see you, the more you stay top of mind.

Another way to stay top of mind is to keep your colleagues in the loop. Copy people on emails, when appropriate. You might copy your manager on an email to a colleague as a way to let your boss know how far you have advanced a particular project. You also could copy a teammate on an email you are sending to your manager if that information would be helpful for your teammate to know. Be careful with copying your manager’s boss or their peers as it could be seen as going over your manager’s head. Use discretion when copying people on email.

Take your manager’s lead on the communication channels they prefer. If your boss uses a combination of formal and informal communication channels, follow suit. It is okay to communicate via platforms like Slack or texting if your boss uses these. Less formal forms of communication allow for a more relaxed atmosphere and can make people feel more comfortable.

Every communication you have with your colleagues is an opportunity to develop and nurture your work relationships. The more rapport you establish with individuals, the more they will respect you, enjoy working with you and remember you.

5.     Engage in small talk.

You can talk with colleagues about things other than work, such as a hobby or a family activity. Talking about things other than work can help you to be seen as a well-rounded, interesting person. And people want to work with interesting people.

6.     Be ready, always.

Have a plan for every meeting. Create an agenda, even if it is just for your eyes. You want people to see that you are organized and do not waste people’s time.

Be ready with ideas. If you want to stand out, think of possible solutions to problems and say something. Suggest an idea. Your job is to make your manager’s job easier. If you have an idea that might help your organization and your boss, speak up.

 

When working from home, make sure you are not perceived as distancing yourself. You may need to take some extra steps to maintain your presence and make a positive impression. Just like being in the office, know expectations, dress professionally, and be on time. When working remotely, ensure your technology is properly functioning, try to be online when your colleagues are online, communicate, and always be prepared.

 

Source : Forbes