Human Resources

Telework and Telecommuting Series – Pt.10

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Welcome to the last part of the series. We’ll go over some additional challenges to think about daily when you’re working from home and what they could mean for you. Read on…


Part Ten: Additional Challenges

Many factors such as communication and organization can cause problems on a team of teleworkers, but there are many other things that can cause a challenge in the ‘office environment’. Some of them can be addressed beforehand and can even try to be prevented. Others, however, can occur suddenly and can range in severity. The key is to help employees be prepared for anything and give them the resources they need when they do have a problem.

Building Trust and Rapport

Trust is a key component in any relationship, either professional or personal. Teleworkers can have additional problems with trust since they are not always able to be in the group’s company and interact with them on a daily basis; therefore, building this trust may take longer than if that face to face interaction was present. You can begin to feel self-doubt when you are unsure of your abilities and how you appear to the other members. It is important to stay in contact with everyone and build a rapport individually with them. Keep communication open with them and show that you trust them and their abilities. By showing an interest in them at work and in the office, you build a better relationship with them and help boost their confidence and trust in you.

Tips for building trust:

  • Be open and honest with your colleagues
  • Don’t be afraid to share opinions and ideas with them
  • Offer advice, insight, and your opinion
  • Allow them to ask questions and listen to their opinions

Feeling Isolated

An office can feel cozy when employees are able to group together to complete their work or meet with each other on a coffee break. But since teleworker employees can be spread over several miles, the feeling of closeness is usually absent. Employees can begin to feel isolated or distant from the group, causing a decrease in productivity and a greater distress of emotions. While the problem cannot be entirely solved, there are ways of helping everyone felt less isolated or alone and making them feel more part of the team. Check in with your colleagues periodically and give them any updates or changes that have recently happened. Ask them how they are feeling in their work and if they are having any problems. When possible, arrange a conference call or video group meeting where everyone can come together and talk to one another.

Always in the Office

Teleworkers on a virtual team have the opportunity to work from a home office so they don’t have the usual commute or hassles with getting to and from work every day. Unfortunately, when you work from home, you can often feel like you are always in the office and do not have a place to go on a lunch break or when the work day is finished. The office environment tends to blend with the home environment, causing you to have trouble distinguishing personal time from work/business time. Try to designate a place at home or nearby where they can go to get away from the office when you take a break or need to get away. Remember that when the work day is done to close the ‘office’ and not to mix personal and business matters, when possible. With dedication and perseverance you can have a healthy balance between work and your personal lives.

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Lack of or Less Feedback

One important aspect of any team is to make sure you are receiving timely feedback on your job duties and performance. Feedback helps everyone know how they have excelled while at the same time tells them where the need improvement. With teleworkers, it can be more difficult to deliver this feedback. One of the biggest mistakes a team manager can make is to wait to deliver the employees feedback due to the inconvenience of time or distance. If you don’t receive the feedback you deserve, you can begin to feel left out, ignored, or just plain isolated. Recognize when and if this happens and reach out to your manager. You may begin to question your own abilities or job performance, which can decrease your confidence and productivity.

Tips for delivering feedback more often:

  • Ask your manager to make a schedule when to deliver feedback
  • Prepare feedback in advance and have it ready before their scheduled time
  • Determine how the feedback should be delivered (by phone, email, etc.)

Practical Illustration

Cheryl is working with her newest teleworker, Deb, and is trying to get her accustomed to working in a different type of office. She knows that teleworkers can often feel alone or isolated since they are not surrounded by their coworkers, so she made an effort to stay in contact with Deb and make sure she had enough opportunities to socialize with the other team. She also made a point to remind Deb to take her breaks away from the office so that she doesn’t have that ‘always in the office’ feeling and that she can never get away. Over time, Cheryl began to build trust with Deb and she felt as though Deb could come to her if she needed additional help or advice.


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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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