How to Be a Good Virtual Coworker
One of the best ways to improve relationships with your colleagues and boost team productivity while working from home is to build your virtual teamwork skills. Even if you’re considered to be a great team player in an office environment, working remotely presents teams and individuals with a different set of challenges. While you can’t control whether those you work with bring strong remote team skills to the table, you can do your part to improve your team’s dynamics by understanding best practices around being a good virtual teammate.
Fortunately, you can boost your skills in this arena through online training, some of which is available free of charge. For example, eLearning Brothers—whose customers include Walmart, Disney, and Amazon—offers a free remote work training curriculum, which provides learners with more than 15 free training courses that shed light on topics such as how to tighten up your teamwork skills when working from home.
Remote.co sampled these free webinars to see what we could glean about being a good remote coworker. Here are some top-line strategies from eLearning Brothers.
Communicate With Your Team About Unexpected Video Interruptions
The “Navigating Work From Home WTHs (What the Hecks)” session showcases scenarios in which team video calls are interrupted by domestic drama, whether a barking dog or children toddling into your office as you deliver a report. While situations like this can be stressful, eLearning Brothers notes that the best way to handle them is to gracefully communicate with your team when things go awry.
For example, in one scenario you’re asked to decide what you might do when your mail is delivered during a Zoom call with your entire team and the CEO, and your dog begins barking like crazy. Rather than hanging up on the call and pretending like your internet service went down, a better approach to build virtual teamwork skills is to simply pick up your dog, introduce her to the team, and continue on with your report. This is bound to happen now and then with so many people working from home, and colleagues will generally be understanding if you address the situation in a straightforward manner.
Roll With the Punches When Things Don’t Go as Planned
Another WFH scenario presented is what to do when you accidentally send out the wrong file to your team—for example, a personal note to your spouse rather than the document the team was expecting as the deliverable.
As in the video call situation above, the best way to handle this situation as a virtual coworker is to be open and honest about it. “Think fast, click the recall button on the email and quickly draft an apology email, send it and hope everyone understands,” the trainers advise. While it’s not a perfect solution, it’s likely to breed more goodwill with your coworkers than pretending that it never happened and not addressing the situation.
Keep Others in the Loop When Stalled on a Project
Another free eLearning Brothers training advises to “Stay Productive While Waiting for Answers.” If your project is stalled while you are waiting for someone else to complete a task, take the opportunity to boost relationships with your virtual teammates rather than letting the situation fester and create tension with colleagues.
The trainers suggest using the downtime while waiting to network with others. Keep people in the loop about the delay rather than getting upset about it and venting to the person who’s causing the holdup. You can also use a delay like this to connect with your boss about what to work on while waiting, which can help boost your virtual teamwork skills with this very important teammate.
Write Clear and Concise Emails
While working remotely, one of the key methods of communication to connect with coworkers is email. This means that email has become even more important in a work-from-home environment than it was when you worked in an office, when you could simply walk down the hall if you needed to talk to someone.
It’s easy to derail team relationships with unclear or insensitive email messages, though. eLearning Brothers recommends the following email etiquette tips in its “Clear and Concise Emails” training:
- Keep your message short and to the point.
- Use professional language and avoid slang or overly casual statements.
- Include a call to action in your email that explains what you want your teammates to do.
- Clarify any deadlines or timelines for requested actions.
The training also emphasizes the importance of proofreading your email carefully before you send it—both to catch any typos and to double check the tone of your email. “The more important the receiver, the more time you should spend on your review,” explains eLearning Brothers.
Give It Your Best
If you want to increase your success as a remote worker who people want to hire and work with, then devote sufficient time to improving your communication skills and habits, and become the best virtual teammate you can be.
For more tips and tricks on everything remote work, check out our blog. Looking for a remote job with remote teammates of your very own? We post fully remote jobs in 19 career categories!
By Robin Madell | August 20, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely