Working effectively, being engaged, and being productive are goals for all employees of a business -- but these are especially important for those that are completely virtual. While working remote has many benefits, it is crucial for those who work out of home offices to find routines that help them be productive and feel connected at the same time when not seeing their fellow colleagues daily.
During SXSW this year, I attended a meet-up called, Feeling Connected in the Virtual Workplace, led by Rolando Balli, a Business Development Consultant at RRB Ventures, who helped develop Dell’s Connected Workplace initiative, and by Laura Hambley, President and Co-Founder of Work EvOHlution.
About 30 people who work remote in some capacity attended this meet-up and we separated into three groups to brainstorm on big ideas such as Wellness in the Virtual Workplace, Communicating in the Virtual Workplace, etc. I was placed in a group focused on Wellness in the Virtual Workplace and we discussed some great themes for those who work remotely.
The first item we discussed dealt with barriers to wellness in the virtual workplace. If you work in a virtual office, what hurdles would you describe? Here are some the group discussed:
- Working through lunch or for hours at a time without taking a break
- Not separating work from leisure when working in a home office
- Working into your evening hours instead of cutting the time off when you leave a physical office
- Not feeling connected to your colleagues
We then discussed ways to combat these habits and how to feel more connected to your colleagues when you may be separated by miles. Rolando from RRB Ventures mentioned creating connections builds trust and reliability and are incredibly important to focus on when working in a virtual office. Here are some key takeaways from this discussion:
- Check in with each other on a team call before hopping straight to business. It’s important to see how everyone is doing to feel more of a sense of community and to build a bond between colleagues.
- One person’s company hosts Lunch with a Leader once a month where everyone hops on a call at lunchtime and a leader of the company discusses the standing of the company along with any client updates, and it provides a time for the others on the call to ask questions and discuss topics that might not come up otherwise.
- Virtual dance parties help one guy’s company spice things up at their workplace each month when one person picks the music and they all hop on a video call and dance for five minutes then go back to business as usual.
- Several people mentioned using Slack to cut down on team emails and to increase communication in general.
- A suggestion that stuck out to me was to celebrate birthdays. One person mentioned they do birthday calls where everyone gets on a call and wishes that person a happy birthday. This really made sense to me as birthdays are typically celebrated in an office setting so why not celebrate them when working virtually? It is important to create connections with those you email with on a regular basis when you don’t see them face-to-face regularly.
Another element that can improve your virtual office is to change up your workplace environment by going outside or adding nature to your day. Experts say adding nature to your day helps relieve workplace stress. Here are some suggestions our group had to switch up your routine:
- Check your emails and drink your morning coffee outside on your patio at the start of your day.
- When traveling, work outdoors at a park or outside of your hotel instead of working in your room.
- Encourage your company to use a hashtag such as #whatsyourviewtoday to challenge each other to switch up their routine and share their view for the day.
- If you don’t have nature nearby that is conducive to work, play sounds of rain or ocean waves in the background for a soothing touch.
- Eat lunch outside to breakaway from the indoors for a bit.
Lastly, a good way to break up your day is to add some physical movement to your routine. When working remotely, it is easy to sit at your desk for long periods of time whereas you may have walked to other offices, desks, meetings, etc. in a brick and mortar office. Here are ways to move more throughout your day:
- Take a 15 minute break and take a walk outside.
- Hop on the treadmill or elliptical if you have one that is easily accessible.
- Take a call and go on a short walk while on the call to knock out the call and add physical activity to your day all at once.
Overall, working in a virtual office offers fantastic opportunities to be productive and to add nature to your day. It does however put some pressure on you to feel connected to those you don’t see on a daily basis. How do you connect with your colleagues when working remote?