How to avoid being a terrible virtual worker

March 28, 2015 | Phil Fersht

One growing talent issue I have increasingly become concerned about, is observing people whose career development quickly nosedives when they isolate themselves in a work-at-home model.

I personally believe being able to work effectively within a virtual environment warrants a completely different skillset and attitude, if you want to advance your career and keep developing your potential.

So here's my guide to being an effective virtual worker in six easy steps:

1. Use voice and video as much as you can.  Staring into a computer relentlessly typing emails for 16 hours a day with little voice contact with your clients/co-workers makes anyone miserable - and anti-social over time.  Make considerable effort to talk to people as much as you can.  Use video for conference calls too - it forces everyone to pay attention (and get dressed) and have a much more personal series of dialogs.

2. Sort out your voice technology.  There's nothing worse than communicating with people who have a crappy wifi connection, with whom you can never get a clear skype/google conversation without the echos, constant disconnections etc.  If your wifi's garbage, you can get great quality Skype (for example) over 4g LTE these days on your iPad or iPhone.  Oh, and while we're at it, stop slurping coffee and eating into your microphone on calls, it's disgusting...

3. Stop using email for every bloody communication.  Email is a tool for passing along information and instructions. Learn how to be cordial, get your message across and use voice as much as possible to communicate.  Never use email for heated conversations that have emotion (especially negative emotion).

4. Buy an exercise machine and work out everyday.  Without fail.  You're sitting on your bum most the day burning zero calories and likely visiting the fridge on an hourly basis.  You have to exercise, or you will balloon and die.  Buy yourself an elliptical trainer, exercise bike or treadmill, use it everyday, and after a while you'll get so fit you can even take calls while you get even fitter.  I would recommend going to a gym, but who has two hours to carve out when you're an overworked virtual nutcase glued to your machine all day and night?

5. Invest more time getting out to see your clients, your peers and do more networking.  When you see noone bar your family, pets and the plumber on a daily basis, the only way to stay motivated and continue to develop yourself is to go to more conferences, make more effort to visit your clients / peers etc.  You learn the most from your collective discussions with others, from having discreet conversations.  Everyone's fed up with social-media - meeting people and being social is back in vogue.  Really - get out of the house!

6. Stop complaining about how stressed and overworked you are.  Boohoo - just suck it up, we're all over-bloody-worked.  It's all in the mind - so get healthy, get social again, start enjoying your work and you'll forget about stress and go with the flow.  Just go with the flow, it's the only way to survive these days.

There endeth my lesson for the day.  Go back to your weekend...

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1 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Chris Wilkinson
    Posted Mar 28, 2015 12:43 AM | Permalink Reply

    Phil - to the point as ever. I think everyone reading this is guilty of at least one of these!

    Chris

  2. Phil Fersht
    Posted Mar 28, 2015 02:51 AM | Permalink Reply

    @Chris - oh yes - including me!

  3. Alex Barnes
    Posted Mar 28, 2015 09:12 AM | Permalink Reply

    Phil,

    Loved this piece - simple and to the point. One thing I have done also is start using a vertical desk - it really helps with burning up calories during the day, keeping me more active and actually concentrate better,

    Alex Barnes

  4. Gaurav
    Posted Mar 28, 2015 12:11 PM | Permalink Reply

    Phil,

    Definitely agree with point 6!

    G.

  5. Mark Hillary
    Posted Mar 30, 2015 02:54 AM | Permalink Reply

    Great comments. Being a Brit living in Brazil my own writing work means that I don't get into enough conversation with Brazilians. I'm rearranging my work patterns to ensure that 3 days a week I force myself out to talk to people - otherwise it would be like you said, stuck in front of a laptop with the dog nearby.

  6. Shyam Nadig
    Posted Apr 05, 2015 04:50 PM | Permalink Reply

    Awesome! Great points and very well written! No more excuses :)!

  7. John H Morris
    Posted Apr 06, 2015 11:46 AM | Permalink Reply

    Nicely done, and per Alex, I also vote for the vertical or stand-up desk. An amazing difference.

  8. Ashu Tandon
    Posted May 03, 2015 09:29 PM | Permalink Reply

    Phil - Great piece. I've pinned a copy in my home office as a constant reminder !

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