It’s no secret that Kevin Eikenberry and I are working on a new book to follow up The Long-Distance Leader- Rules of Remarkable Remote Leadership. This one is all about being a great remote teammate. Not a team member. Anyone with a log-on password and an employee number can be part of a team but not be a real teammate. What’s the difference?

In researching all the latest information on why some people work remotely and burn out, while others remain engaged and successful, we realized that there are three factors at work. We call these “The 3Ps of Great Remote Teammates”:


I know, you’re thinking, “nice picture, what does it mean?”


No big surprise, one of the first things we think of when consider doing good remote work is, well, actually getting the work done! Productivity is important, but it’s not enough. Doing enough not to get fired can keep you on the team, but it won’t keep you engaged, connected, or promoted over the long haul. Also, if you’re not careful, you may be productive while eating into your personal time, or working too many hours, which can result in burnout. Completing your work on the right things in the right way is just the start.


We’ve been writing about this a lot lately, because  in our research with leaders and remote workers, it is the one word that appears more often than any other. Proactivity is perhaps the single greatest sign that you are an engaged member of the team. Why?

For two reasons: First, If you are engaged and connected, you’re more likely to be proactive. If a teammate needs help, you’re there. You participate actively in meetings and contribute to brainstorming and collaboration. This creates a virtuous cycle: you are perceived as valuable and helpful, which means people treat you that way, which enhances your engagement and satisfaction, which makes you try harder and so on.

Secondly, if you care about your teammates, your manager, and the organization, you will do the hard work of actively seeking clarification if you have a question. You will check that you have the same priorities as your manager when it comes to tasks. You’ll risk momentary loss of face for the long-term effect of doing the right work the right way, and it will be rewarded.


The third “P” means that you work with the big picture in mind. Sure, you can keep your head down and not contribute in meetings, but what’s the long-term impact of that? You might get that email answered, but your teammates and manager may think you’re not contributing.

You might get your work done faster if you don’t answer your colleague’s Slack request for information, but what will that mean when you need help from them?

And what are your long-term goals?  If you envision working for this company and getting promoted, are you doing the things you need to do in order to stay on the boss’s radar screen, develop the skills needed for the future, and network effectively (and ethically)?

Doing the work can make you a member of the team, but if you focus on the 3 Ps,  Productivity, Proactivity and Potential, you’ll elevate yourself to being a great remote teammate.

If you’d like to learn more about being a great remote teammate, or developing those skills in the people who work with you, check out our new learning system, 12 Weeks to Being a Great Remote Teammate.



Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
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

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.

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