We all know that when we work remotely it can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s good that we can (to some degree) set our own schedules, put our heads down and work without Bob from Accounting stopping by our desk to bemoan the state of his Fantasy Football Draft. On the other hand, it’s also easy to get stuck in the details of what we’re working on and lose sight of the long term bigger picture. That can be a real problem.
In our upcoming book, The Long-Distance Teammate: Stay Engaged and Connected Working Anywhere, Kevin and I talk about the 3P Model. The components are Productivity (getting the right work done), Proactivity (not waiting to be asked to do things or contribute to the team), and Potential (thinking about the impact of your actions, and not just on what needs to be done this moment). Over the coming months, we’ll be looking at each of these in far more detail, but today we’ll focus on the factor that frequently gets ignored: Potential.
Why we should consider more than just our own work
- We find it difficult to stay engaged when we do the same tasks over and over again. When all you see is the same view, it’s easy to become bored and detached. When you consider the long-term impact of your work, you don’t feel so trapped.
- We tend to feel pressure to perform THIS TASK at THIS MOMENT. When that happens, our communication can become transactional. We only communicate with people who can help us get this particular job done as quickly as possible. Often this means we forget the importance of building relationships.
- We don’t take the time to build relationships. Every day we face questions that have longer-term impact on our work than we think. Who should you include on your emails? Are you staying in touch with all members of your team or the same couple of people all the time? Are you participating in meetings, or pouting because you have work to do so nobody really knows you’re there?
- We get caught up in what we’re doing now, and don’t develop new skills or learn new technology. When you are in the office, do you hear about new training that’s available? Do you see someone do something with the technology and ask how they did that? Are you more likely to hear about job postings or opportunities to take part in projects or special teams? Probably. When we keep our heads down and don’t participate in group activities and discussions, we often feel that there’s nothing beyond what we are doing right now, and that can be demotivating.
- Conversations with our manager can be very task-oriented and we forget longer term goals and plans. When you work with a remote manager, time is precious. Often the only time you get their attention is during scheduled one-on-ones. It’s likely you have a “boss list,” and they have a “worker list” and the meetings are designed to check off as many of those items as you can in the time allotted. As a result, long-term personal development plans and those goals you set at the beginning of the year are often ignored. Yet it’s often the big-picture goals that keep us excited and help us not get ground down by the day to day grind.
When we see more than just the task ahead of us we care more and put more effort into our work. The result is we’re more productive and generally enjoy our work more.
In addition to pre-ordering The Long-Distance Teammate, check out 12 Weeks to Being a Great Remote Teammate, one of our most popular learning programs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. You can pre-order Kevin and Wayne’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, now.