5 Ways to be a Great (Remote) Team Member

Most of us have now been working from home for about a month.

As Zoom meetings and sharing your dining room table workspace with your partner and your 5th grader become the new normal, are you striving to be the best team member you can?

Some of the attributes of being a strong, productive team member translate directly from your office environment, such as Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, and common sense practices such as arriving at your meetings on time. Other characteristics of team work are amplified by our new remote work environments. We may not be dressing up as much as we typically would, but wasn’t seeing your colleague in their lounge wear, matted hair obviously uncombed, distracting…and just a little awkward?

To keep our remote-selves as focused and productive as possible, here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Make sure you are now completely familiar with the technology you are using. Delaying meeting starts because you regularly use the wrong link, fumbling around to mute/unmute your microphone, and not knowing how to share a screen so everyone can see an important document you are working on is a nuisance and a time-waster. It also increasingly tries everyone’s patience and creates unnecessary stress.

2. Communicate more, but in briefer bursts. Since we no longer bump into each other in the office kitchen, we need ways to catch up regularly. That said, no one wants yet another hour-long video meeting. Try a brief “check-in.” One, or possibly two, daily 15-minute get togethers. Check-ins allow everyone to share, rapid-fire, quick updates about what they are working on and where they need more information or feedback. Check-ins are also great forums for making making small group decisions that help keep a project moving forward.

Also useful are brief, unscheduled “meetings” between two or three people held spontaneously, as needed. The remote equivalent of “can I stop by your office for a couple of minutes to discuss something?”

3. As you would at the office, please arrive at your remote meetings on time, and be completely present at the meeting (no multitasking — don’t be checking email or eating breakfast while you are zooming). 

4. Yes, people are seeing you in a casual top. And who knew that Jason in accounting collects miniature ceramic lighthouses and displays the entire collection prominently on the wall of his den? While we are all being kind, patient, and making the best of working from our homes, let’s be mindful about what we are subjecting our colleagues to.

No one wants to see you wearing your favorite, frayed, circa 1998 comfy sweater. Comb your hair. Don’t sit with a window behind your back — appearing as a silhouette in the federal witness protection program. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but be aware of how you are coming across on the camera. This helps everyone focus on the work, not on what you may or may not have on a shelf just over your left shoulder.

5. Critically, the executive coaches at Arden Coaching urge you to take the initiative and seek additional ways to support each other. Reach out more than you normally might at the office. Email and call your team members to connect. Ask each other how you are doing and how you can help.

Depending on our circumstances, we’re all challenged in different ways. A colleague with a working spouse and two middle-schoolers is likely to be having a very different work-at-home experience than a divorced empty-nester who lives alone. How can you help them deal with the stress of their particular situation (even if it means simply being a good listener)? Can you pick up a portion of one of their assignments or deliverables? How can you contribute? 

Maintain your sense of humor and your perspective and work to be the best remote-team version of yourself. Reaching out to help your team members during this stressful and uncertain time will pay huge dividends — for you, your team, and your organization.

To learn more about team performance and leadership, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.