Have you ever been working on a project and thought, I could be doing this at home? Well, that’s probably because you can. For creative professionals especially, it can be beneficial to be able to work from a space that is designed to facilitate your creative process, like your own home. If you are a freelancer, you probably have experienced the luxury of being able to work remotely. But you also may have developed a feeling that you weren’t part of your team (if you’ve had a team as a freelancer).
More and more companies are letting their employees work remotely for the enormous benefits to the business and its employees. In recognition of virtual teams increasing in the digital workforce of today, the U. of Southern California states that, “50% of all workers are based overseas.” However, when working remotely, you can lose the sense that you are working as part of a team. Feelings of isolation can decrease your motivation, productivity, and overall satisfaction. So, how do you make yourself feel like an integral part of your virtual team when you’re working remotely?
Below are some tips on how a creative professional can enjoy the perks of working from home while feeling like you belong and are a part of your business’ culture.
When working remotely, you have to create your own workspace that you’ll be productive in. That means minimizing distractions and supplying yourself with the tools necessary to work remotely. The bare minimum you’ll need for working remotely is a strong internet connection and a laptop. However, for a creative professional, you might want to consider more than internet and a laptop for your setup.
Consider a large desk as a base for projects if you’re working from home, a graphics tablet if you’re a graphic designer, even wireless headphones if they help you focus. Anything you can do to make it easier while working on your project(s) for the day and be productive. Finishing up projects in a timely manner will create a sense of accomplishment that will help you feel part of your virtual team, as when they need finished projects from you, you’ll be able to present it to them — creating a cohesiveness over your virtual team and demonstrating your value to it.
The only way you’ll feel a part of your team is if you make yourself a part of the team. You can’t expect to build relationships remotely if you don’t do some things that make you feel a part of the team. Perhaps the major drawback from working remotely is the fact that you are isolated from everyone else in the office. This can be overcome if you have the necessary communication tools to keep in contact with people.
A virtual team should have an instant messaging software for real-time messaging, not only for talking through business operations but to also foster chit-chat within the team; chatting with your co-workers will give you a feeling of fellowship even though you are working alone. For example, you could send any co-worker a small message encouraging small talk, and then you’re on your way to developing a friendship.
For face-to-face interactions, consider a webcam. Messages in the form of text can often get misconstrued, and a face-to-face meeting will help eliminate accidental tension and confusion. Webcams used for conferences, either with a client or a manager, can help you pinpoint exactly what a client wants in a project or what your managers would like from you. There are many teleconferencing applications, with the most notable being Skype. At the end of the day, a face-to-face meeting is quicker and more efficient for business operations.
Ultimately, your level of interaction is up to you. Even if you were onsite, you could still feel apart from your team if you don’t actively participate and communicate. It is true that it is harder for remote workers, but the above information can help alleviate many feelings of isolation. In any business, communication is key. It’s up to you to make yourself available for conversation, meetings, and any other ways you can involve yourself and feel connected.
If you work in the same city as your place of employment, it is recommended that you attend company events. Appreciation events, team building exercises, and other meetings will give the interaction you need with your team members — even if that means you have to wear pants. If you are working remotely and far away, think about going to a couple large events that your company may be hosting, such as trade shows. It will help people put a face to your name (if you haven’t held Skype meetings with them) and vice versa.
The perks of working remotely are great, but perhaps the biggest perk is also a drawback. Remote workers, especially for creative professionals such as a freelance designer, may enjoy the peace and solitude and may even find that they are more productive in this setting. However, without the tips above, you may find yourself in a place of isolation and disliking remote work. The information above will give you the interaction you need with a virtual team of your coworkers, allowing you to keep your peace and solitude without it turning into feelings of seclusion.