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#WFH: Do You Have a Road Map?

Communications can be challenging in any work environment. It can be downright perplexing in the virtual environment. If you look at literature on virtual teams, it focuses on issues of trust and relationships between team members. Some will report cultural differences, conflicts in management styles or leadership challenges. But most difficulties arise because there is a gap. There are people on a team who have come together to get a job done but just do not know what to expect or what’s expected of them. Because of the distance, the space and the anonymity in virtual communications, trust can be an issue.

The physical space between team members can affect how these people interact. A multitude of technologies have sprung up to allow us to feel closer and collaborate. But hat is not all that has happened; organizations have become more global and much flatter. The rules have changed and so have hiring expectations. Organizations can optimize expertise by hiring from a diverse workforce, matching the right person with the right job, and finding workers anywhere in the world. But virtual workers and teams cannot become invisible. The virtual workforce needs to be highly visible and supported right from the start.

Organizational leadership can set the performance expectations, and promote and support the virtual office, using a hands-on approach of establishing and creating effective working agreements. These agreements can be discussed and used to convey expectations of the organization and the employee. Working agreements can also convey support, training and the accountability expected by everyone. These virtual workplace agreements might be structured like contracts with buy-in from both sides.

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