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#WFH: Are You Creating Strong Virtual Relationships?

Communicating virtually means communicating differently. It requires leaders to develop new skills to build strong relationships. Not only do they need to be able to listen with intuitive skills, they also need to be able to communicate on a one to one level. Leaders need to listen more deeply and communicate more personally. This helps in order to detect what is being left unsaid in an email or determine how life elements are affecting employee engagement. Goals need to be more clearly defined than in a F2F workplace, and expectations need to be conveyed and measured. About 40% of current work can be done virtually. Working virtually means working differently. It requires a different set of skills whether you are the captain or just one of the crew.

The virtual workplace offers freedom and cost savings to both employer and employee. It comes with inevitably greater responsibilities and the need to self-manage. Most research suggests that when virtual employees feel empowered they also feel the most engaged. The virtual workplace can be a driver for empowerment and engagement but it can also be a lonely place and very isolating. Strong interpersonal communication skills can help us to empower workers and make them feel more connected to a community and dedicated to meeting organizational objectives.

There needs to be more informal conversation and social conversation. Being a leader in the virtual workplace requires more tolerance, willingness and ability to cope with change. It requires a willingness to lead in a more extroverted way than in a traditional workplace. Leaders in the virtual space simply cannot afford to be aloof, reserved and detached (Haid, 2010).


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