Human Resources

Telework and Telecommuting Series – Pt.9

Hey Compliance Warriors!

This is part two of our communication discussion. We’ll continue to look at some really important points to consider. Because we don’t just need to consider our work communication, but the people we live with, too. Read on…


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Part Nine: Communication

Sometimes even when we learn how to effectively communicate, we can forget to put what we’ve learned into action. When we want to reach out to our teammates, it is important to determine how we do it and how we can get the results we need. We can’t be afraid to open up or share. Effective communication can be the tie that bonds a team together.

Open and Frequent Communication

A virtual team needs to stay in constant contact, so open and frequent communication is important. Be clear about your needs or if you have a problem you need help with. By keeping a channel of communication open, employees will feel less hesitant to approach one another, even if it is over the electronic wire. Make yourself available to everyone as much as possible and make sure they know how to reach you. Try to schedule regular or scheduled meeting or group sessions to keep everyone in the loop. Check in with your colleagues periodically and take notice of progress and accomplishments. Ask questions to see how they are doing and if you can help in some way.

Tips for staying in contact:

  • Schedule regular conferences or one-on-one phone calls with people you are working with
  • Provide the best time and ways to reach you
  • Send an email periodically to allow employees to respond back at their convenience

Share Your Information

Unfortunately, shy people do not function well on a team of teleworkers. Even though the position can call for a lot of time apart or working alone, it still requires employees to stay in touch and constantly share personal and business information. Employees often need to have personal cell numbers of other employees or home/office addresses for times when employees cannot be reached another way. Encourage everyone to be open and make them feel free to share information with one another. Not only can it make the team feel more like a family, it can help build their social skills even though they are not able to socialize in person. Teams will feel more connected without feeling as though they are being forced to work together. Employees need to be able to share ideas and opinions and give their input on assignments and projects, so encourage everyone to share what they know and contribute to the group.

Have a Collaborative Attitude

The old saying is that there is no ‘I’ in TEAM, which is true even with a virtual team. Although team members generally have to work individually on many projects or assignments, the key to bringing things together is collaboration. Each individual assignment comes together to achieve a common goal. Instead of having the mentality of “it’s every man for himself”, teams should embrace a collaborative attitude and seek to work together as much as they can. When members work together, it can spark motivation and inspiration, which can boost confidence and productivity. Having a collaborative attitude can improve communication among team members and encourage them to reach out to each other to not only achieve the group’s goals, but their own personal goals as well.

Setting Expectations with Family and Friends

All teleworkers or virtual team members work in some sort of home office. This can prove beneficial to employees who cannot travel or want to stay close their family, but it can also cause a problem if the employee cannot separate business from personal matters.  Speak with your loved ones and people in the house or sharing an office and create some ground rules for when they are at work. Many employees have a set number of hours that they work, so a ground rule can be that you are not to be disturbed during this time and cannot leave the work area. Just as if you were in a regular office, company hours should not be used to make personal calls or errands and should be task oriented and job focused. Your manager may not need to become directly involved in the rules and guidelines you set with your friends and family, but it is important to keep them in the loop so they can support this process.


  • Encourage employees to establish home and work guidelines with friends and family
  • Explain the need for structure in the office, even if it is at home
  • Offer assistance when it is needed

Practical Illustration

Sandra is working with three of her teammates on a project for a new client. They don’t get to make a lot of phone calls, so they instant message or video phone to communicate and share ideas. They have to be open with each other, so they make sure to communicate often and always be open with each other’s opinions and ideas. Sandra had the idea of everyone exchanging personal phone numbers in case they need to speak outside of business hours. But she reminded them that the team needs to stay focused on the project and not to let family and friends interfere in the work. Throughout the project they had daily sessions where they shared ideas and information to stay up to date on the project as a whole and keep the goal of completing it altogether.


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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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