Health + wellbeing

Three things you didn’t know about working virtually

- September 23, 2021 3 MIN READ
working from home

Most of us earned our remote working stripes last year and have continued to work from home at least a few days a week since then. But with some of us back into extended WFH mode around the country, here are three things even the most seasoned remote worker might not know about virtual first workplaces.

Three things you didn’t know about remote work

Asynchronous work is the new black

Think about synchronised swimming – it’s all about everyone on the team completing tasks to the same timetable. Asynchronous work is the opposite. Async (as it’s known) is a way of working where team members complete tasks on their own timetable.

Working virtually means everyone can work not only where they want (lockdowns notwithstanding) but largely also when they want. So working virtually usually means going async by default. However, it’s not just a way of working – it’s an entire mindset about how work can and should happen.

For example, it means choosing to leave feedback in comments on a document, as opposed to setting up a meeting. It means consciously deciding to send an email instead of a Slack message when a response can wait. Most modern virtual workplaces use cloud-based platforms like Dropbox with multiple tools and features that help make both asynchronous and synchronous collaboration easy for teams working remotely.

So how do you know what work fits into the async category? Simple. If it’s not one of the three D’s below, then it’s very likely async.

Try the 3d’s method for filtering your virtual meetings

You might know from experience that video calls seem more tiring than face-to-face chats. But do you know why?

Strangely, our brains have to work much harder to decipher what’s going on in a Zoom call than in a normal meeting. Researchers say it’s the combination of constantly seeing yourself on video in real time, having a reduced number of nonverbal communication cues, and even the sense of being watched by the other faces on your screen during the call.[1]

So how do you manage Zoom fatigue? A meeting cleanse. Reduce unnecessary meetings by sorting the musts from the mehs. Part of this is learning when to meet, and when not to. To strike the right balance, try the 3d’s method – keep meetings for important Decisions, Debates, and Discussion. The 3d’s typically make up work that needs to happen synchronously, with the team all working on it at the same time.

This rule of thumb is ideal to help you filter through your avalanche of calendar invites. And once you know which meetings really matter to you, you can try out some of these ways to respectfully decline.

Remote work has unexpectedly boosted our relationships (true story)

It’s unsurprising that 49% of people with live-in partners said their relationships improved because of working from home.[2] But what is surprising is that despite the reduced in-person interactions at work, some remote work employees report improved relationships with their managers (32%), peers/colleagues on their team (25%), and even peers/colleagues on other teams (21%).

Of course, strong relationships don’t come out of nowhere. The same research shows more than 4 in 5 managers proactively helped to cultivate emotional connections at work between team members during the pandemic. In fact, managers who maintained strong relationships with their employees adopted behaviors such as offering encouragement (48%), making themselves consistently available (33%), and creating regular and structured check-ins (32%).

So remember – being virtual first doesn’t mean that your workplace relationships have to suffer! If your team connections need a bit of a refresh, this free 45-minute virtual team workshop that you can run yourself might be just the thing.

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