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#WFH: Do You Have the Power to Respond?

“Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom…The power to choose, to respond, to change.” Stephen R. Covey

The skills you need to thrive in the virtual environment are not altogether different than the ones you needed in the traditional workplace. None of the five respond-abilities will be a handicap if you have them in a face-to-face environment. However, if you do not have them in the virtual workplace, it will be much more difficult to thrive. These skills let you blend different facets of your life and get things done. The five respond-abilities help you manage the nuances of The Pajama Effect.

When you were in the traditional office, you had colleagues surrounding you. You had protocols to obey and water coolers to visit. You could stop in at your buddy Joe’s office to see what he thought of the latest memo from corporate. As long as you got along and went along, things went your way. If the accepted office policy was to arrive early and stay late, that is what you did. If you complied with corporate conventions and did not rock the boat you were considered a good employee. All that has changed in the virtual office. You must act with autonomy because you have no choice. In the virtual office, you are alone a great deal of the time with yourself, which can be a dangerous place to be.

Acting with autonomy is more than just being independent and self-reliant. It is the ability to carry through with your own agenda. To act with autonomy, it is critical you learn to think with autonomy; this is always the first challenge for the virtual worker because you are missing the feedback of visible cues. The virtual environment is two-dimensional and farther removed. Not only do you not have visual cues, you do not have emotional cues, either. There is so much more to interpret and so much more room for interpretation.

When you act with autonomy, you are confident that you have the skills to get the job done. You may not have all the resources, but you know how to access them. This also means that you understand the company’s goals and conduct your daily responsibilities in accordance with the company’s vision. You may not agree with every detail, but you are there to perform to the best of your abilities. In the virtual office, you will sometimes be put on the spot, and you will be pushed to make a decision about an issue or take action. You will not always have the opportunity to call your boss or your colleague and ask what they think. You will have to make the decision at that moment and take responsibility for your actions. You are more autonomous because you cannot walk over to anyone’s desk while the client is on hold. You are better able to act with autonomy when your actions are grounded in the company’s business vision.

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