Having spent the best part of 6 years governed by a daily routine of early alarm, grabbing a prepared suit & shirt bag and hitting the gym by 6am, before getting to the office for 7.30am to avoid traffic, this working from home lark has been joyous!
Sleeping in till 6.15am is just wonderful, as is the knowledge that I can, on days like today, spend my non-client facing time wearing shorts and a festival tee! However, there is the reverse issue as well, a routine is harder to manage. Your days require far greater discipline especially on those days where you have managed to get ahead of the craziness. 90% of the time it is wonderful – you are efficient, focused and forthright. You have minimal distractions, complete schedule control and no wasted time spent on over extended conference calls, commuting or perhaps the biggest distraction of them all, dealing with office politics.
Call me crazy but the office politics are the one part I do miss occasionally, because office politics can be a good thing. Office politics get a bad rep, but there is a positive side to them –really there is! Politics can be a force for change, positive reinforcement and culture builders. People talking and discussing ideas, opinions and overcoming challenges are things we should celebrate and strive to have in our teams. Having the right forum and context, while ensuring everyone is working with the same intention – the betterment of the team, ensure that politics are not malicious but purely about discussion and progress.
Challenges of Building A Virtual Team
So relating back to my business, here I am, building a virtual workforce, providing maximum flexibility and a platform for people who are damn good at what they do. All pretty cool, but without an office, we face one massive challenge – bringing people together within our company and building strong connections internally. I believe you need to know who people are to understand where they are coming from. That takes time and that takes multiple touch points to establish.
We do meet weekly in person and speak several times a day, but as we expand geographically, those opportunities to meet in person are reduced. Call me old fashioned but I see massive value in breaking bread and raising a glass in celebration, while creating a safe area for people to raise their concerns. I live by a philosophy, inspired by awful teen movies of the 90’s, that my colleagues can always be assured that there ‘ain’t no drama here!’ My belief is that if everyone knows that despite any differences of opinion or approach, everyone is working with the same intention – the success of those we serve. With this mindset from everyone, negative politics can be minimized and misunderstanding are rarely anything more complicated than a lack of context or crossed wires.
I do love working from home, but I see the value and power in an office or destination for people. Perhaps technology will progress, or social media evolve, where virtual teams will have the same capacity for trust building and communication as physical office dwellers. For now, we, like many others, will make the best of it and invest wisely in technology and events to bring our people together. I’d love to hear from people who have gone through similar challenges or have suggestions for me. The future is exciting and full of unknown surprises good and bad, thank you for continuing to read about our journey!