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Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind: 3 Steps to Staying Connected as a Virtual Employee

For many of us, the commute to work consists of a walk across the hall. Working remotely means we get to avoid not just morning gridlock and afternoon traffic jams but also the distractions of unplanned interruptions and side conversations that can easily take us off track.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides to being in the cocoon of the home office all day.

When you’re at a corporate office, you don’t have to put much effort in to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on. While constant interruptions can put a serious wrench in your productivity, the opportunity to collaborate on the fly can lead to creative ideas, faster problem solving and stronger working relationships. And when collaboration, feedback and assistance are all just steps away, you’re much more likely to reach out for them.

It also creates a different dynamic when you have the benefit of interacting with your boss in both formal and informal settings on a regular basis. Whether you’re getting together to discuss an account strategy, passing each other in the hallway or catching up during an impromptu check-in, it’s much easier to know where things stand and what expectations are when you’re able to see your manager face-to-face.

If you’re working from home and haven’t heard from anyone in a while, you may even begin to wonder where you stand—and be tempted to “fill in the blanks” in the absence of any other information. And the truth is, if the silence goes on for any length of time, you probably are missing out on knowledge or opportunities that could ultimately impact your productivity, performance and even your career.

Working remotely shouldn’t be an isolating or limiting experience. When you aren’t physically present, though, you have to make the concentrated effort to stay connected.

Here are three steps to help you get more out of being a remote employee:

  1. Be proactive and recognize the warning signs of isolation and lack of engagement. If you are feeling isolated, unmotivated, disconnected or your imagination is running wild, you need to take the initiative and reach out to a colleague or manager to talk things through.
  2. Schedule regular phone or video check-ins with other team members. Scheduling virtual face time with your manager and other members of your team can go a long way towards building stronger relationships and feeling engaged and included. While email and instant messaging tools are great for detail or project related communications, nothing beats phone and video meetings for camaraderie. The nuances picked up from voice and body language aid communication significantly.
  3. Hone your virtual “presence.” Being able to authentically communicate, engage and influence people even when you don’t have regular face-to-face contact is essential to any remote employee, especially salespeople. And with sharper virtual presence, you’ll be more effective in any situation, whether you’re making a presentation to a client or brainstorming with team members. Download some virtual presence tips from our friends at The Ariel Group here.

What are some of the ways you stay connected when working remotely or with your telecommuting colleagues?