After I had been working virtually for a few months(some time in the middle of last year), I spent some time writing about the pros and cons of telecommuting. I saved the writing as a draft on this blog but never published it.
Now that I am leading my own virtual team, I thought I’d brush off these thoughts, in case they may benefit my team (or others!)
When I stopped working in 2001 after the birth of my first daughter, I had never heard of virtual work. In fact, in my very traditional 9-5 job, we didn’t even really use email yet for business.
When I re-entered the workforce in early 2009, online tools had transformed the world, and I jumped in feet first, learning social media marketing as I developed a blog, Facebook presence, and Twitter following for a university’s marketing department.
As an employee, and now as a business owner and leader of a virtual team,there are many things I love about working virtually:
- Flexibility. I love the freedom to set my own hours and being able to take a break in the middle of the day to take my girls swimming or to go to a dentist appointment. I love the flexibility of where I can work: in my home office, or while I sitting in the lobby of my girls’ school. I love working anywhere that I have access to wi-fi and my phone.
- Autonomy. Although I have deadlines to meet and projects to complete, for the most part, I get to decide how to structure my work. If I feel particularly inspired or creative, I can spend some time writing an article for our upcoming newsletter or a blog post. If not, I can choose another project to work on instead.
- Being a part of a team. When I decided to work virtually, I chose to work almost exclusively for one organization, as a part of a team, because I enjoy being closely connected to others, working toward shared goals. When I worked at the university, I called in for team meetings each morning at 8:15. As the only virtual team member, I called in and participated in the morning meetings via speakerphone. Those daily calls helped me stay connected to our progress on projects AND helped me feel relationally connected. Now that I am leading a virtual team, I look for ways to help my team stay connected while we build strong and supportive relationships.
- Being in two worlds at once. I get to be at work and at home all the time. I can listen to my girls play, knowing they are happy with their favorite sitter. I love being here with my girls, available for a hug when they need one.
Here are some things I don’t love:
- Being in two worlds at once. This one goes on both lists. I sometimes think it would be easier to stay focused if I worked outside my home. I would certainly have fewer interruptions while on the phone.
- I’m not THERE. During one of our morning meetings when I worked at the university, everyone laughed at some visual joke. Several of the team members, apparently, all wore orange shirts on the same day. I still don’t know why it was funny. Times like that reminded me that even though I felt a part of the team, I’m wasn’t WITH them. And, when I worked virtually for a leadership consultant, most of the team lived in the Indianapolis area. (But I didn’t) But when they were together — and I wasn’t there — I felt a strong fear of missing out. Now that I am leading my own team, I am working to combat that. In fact, when Carrie visited me on Thursday, we spent a few minutes on Skype with each of the rest of our team members, camera on. Although we were not all together at once, at least each person got a few minutes to join the fun.
As I have shifted from employee to business owner, I’ve discovered more reasons to love working virtual and a few challenges, as well. One hope I have for the near term is to find a way to get my entire team together in one place. I think we’d have an amazing time together!
Tell me something! Do you work virtually? If so, what do you love about working virtually? What challenges do you face?
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
I do enjoy working virtually. I’m an executive and leadership coach that has coaching convo’s with biz people worldwide.
People are sometimes surprised when they hear I coach by phone. In fact, it’s a preferred method of coaching because it’s so powerful. Nothing else to focus on but the words of what’s being said or not.
I always like to add a comment that adds to the post or has a different take on what was written. In this case, I agree with what you love about your virtualness and what you don’t. Well done!
The down side of working virtually is the short path to the refrigerator door. ;-p
I too enjoy teleworking… Google Plus hangouts has helped tremendously over the past 8 months working with my team and with teams across campus… I’m currently teleworking 1 day a week and would like the opportunity this summer to work 2 days a week but not pushing it since my job is tranisitioning into a social media role… There are plenty of tools available now that are making the ‘personal’ touch easier!! challenges for me is to remind the kids that i’m still working even though i’m at home 🙂 please keep up your posts as I truly enjoy reading them!
I recently did the opposite of you moving to an office environment after decades of virtually working from home. Like you, I enjoy both aspects. In my role of VP Marketing at Webtech Wireless I have had to gain so much knowledge through interaction that I don’t believe that I could have done that from home. On the other hand, I still find that writing email campaigns, blog posts, and other creative tasks work better from Starbucks or home. On the rare occasions where I take a whole day to focus on creative work and do it from home, I really cherish the opportunity.
p.s. I only have one child at home and he’s 16, so most of the family interruptions have disappeared. I found a lock on the office door effective. Your mileage may vary. D
Hi Becky, I work from home and work remotely for all of my projects. I don’t really miss working in an office as I’m not one for office politics and that goes with office workplaces.
I use social media and forums to network and join discussions etc so I don’t miss that side of it either.
I’m a head-down work quietly & efficiently type of person anyway!
Thanks for the interesting read