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How Do You Define Success in The Virtual Workplace?

Workshifting has redefined our idea of success and what it means to be a productive employee. The contribution level of you, the individual, is more important than ever. Organizational success is now a bottom up phenomena. Institutional structures are falling away and instead there is a workplace where collaboration and contribution are praised and rewarded. Formalized structures are being eliminated and a new social structure allows for more horizontal and equal contributions. Now it is your turn to do your part, but how?

Mutual collaboration with working colleagues has long been recognized as a critical component for success. The truth is that most people are not very good at working alone.  You need other people and they need you. You need these other people because of your interdependence. You change your state of being and act and react based on what they do. You are conditioned from childhood to react to others. The cues in the new workplace are not usually observable from the normal five senses. Collaboration helps the diverse members of your team to pick up on changes in the environment and thus changes in the mutual awareness.

When organizations implement new processes that include virtual teams or remote employees of any kind, their leaders must take proactive measures to create a support system for these employees. The support system includes technology support but also the human connection. Very few organizations with virtual workers have a proven method of training and supporting these employees, let alone a tried and true method for leading and managing them. This opens the door to Pandora ’s Box, because a leader cannot lead the PJ worker if s/he does not understand what it is that helps them be successful. It used to be when you work, you work and when you play, you play, but those lines are blurring.

Driven by cheap connectivity, virtual meetings and conference calls have become the norm. No one is really sure what the correct and ethical protocol is when meeting in the world of Pajamas. One of the challenges in communicating in your pajamas is the anonymity involved. As a PJ worker, miscommunication is one of the biggest challenges you face. Not only can you communicate more through digitally mediated communications, but you can also miscommunicate more. You need to show up not just physically but mentally, a feat that is more difficult in the digital world. You need to be here now, to be present, and to contribute socially and intellectually. This requires active participation, preparation and involves thought. You must interact.  In the digital world this is not always the case.

More often than not, people partially show up. They may physically be connected but are not engaged or attentive emotionally; they are not fully present. It is just too easy for them or for you to disengage, to hit the mute button and go change the laundry, feed the dog, or make lunch. You may feel free to act and do things that you would never do in a f2f meeting.  You comb your hair and pick your teeth. You are physically present but mentally distracted. If you want to be successful in the virtual world you must learn to manage all the distractions. They come in many varieties and sometimes, you may even make them up. Excuses are a big part of avoidance and this is much more possible in the digital world. #VirtualWork #PJEffect #RemoteWork