Post by International Military Life Community Manager, Courtney Woodruff
Working from home definitely has its perks. Being able to write this article at midnight in my pajamas after my children have gone to bed is one of them – but the set-up is not without its fair share of challenges. I am figuring out working from home takes a generous amount of self-discipline, strong time management skills and motivation to keep projects running smoothly. Being successful also requires us to make the effort to keep in touch and in sync with colleagues, even though we may have never met in person… especially when we are in different countries.
As the new kid on the block in the USAA Member Community, I am thankful to be on a team of talented writers who have plenty of tried-and-true advice to share as I do my best to learn the ropes. Earlier this week, I reached out a group of professionals to ask if anyone would be willing to share their top tips for staying connected while working from home. Several responded back with fantastic suggestions for keeping communication lines open and thriving over the distances.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Staying connected as a team is important when you work remotely. Face to face video calls are essential to keep personal connections. Also set aside time for team building activities that you can do virtually (online workouts, chat nights) anything that promotes personal connection with each other.” – Liza Rodewald of hiremadskills.com/blog
“My biggest tip for staying connected is to double check your notification settings for the platform you and your team communicate. It's really easy to multitask while working from home. It's easy to step away from your computer or phone and not realize your team members are pinging you on chat.” – Melissa Schreur of insuretheheroes.com
“I do an ad-hoc, 10-15 min weekly one-on-one phone call with different people in the home office. This is a great way to maintain personal connections, stay updated on ongoing initiatives, and ask for advice and support for your projects. Conference calls and email are for information sharing and gathering; personal phone calls are to build and sustain relationships.” – Chad Storlie of combattocorporate.com and USAA Going Civilian Community Manager
“Besides meeting with the team virtually weekly, individual weekly chats are helpful to fill each other in on what you are working on personally, as well as allowing that time to catch up with co-workers. Those personal calls are like a virtual “water cooler.” – Angela Caban of homefrontunited.com and USAA Community Manager
“I try to acknowledge (by instant message or text) or respond to an email as soon as I read it. Even if I don't have the answer, data or document that is being requested. I send a quick note of acknowledgement and provide a timeframe in which I will be responding with what they need. There is no opportunity from home to do a "drive by" to discuss the things the team needs; it is important to me to let my co-workers know I am present, listening and taking their item for action.” – Briana Hartzel USAA PCS Community Manager
“My biggest tip would be to make yourself visible and stay in communication -- send emails, IM, utilize the remote tools at your disposal. It's easy to get lost in a remote space so you have to take the initiative and reach out to keep the team connected.” – Jessica Howington of flexjobs.com
“I'm in love with Zoom.com... I'm building a team in Australia and there is nothing like face to face contact to not only pull your stateside team together, but make the world that much smaller! We also do a FB group page to get ideas out and incentives.” – Tania Dennis
“Our writing team at MilitaryByOwner has group texts and the company also communicates via Slack. We use GoTo Meeting for content meetings, and we also see each other in person every few months, though this will be harder now since a couple of us have moved farther away. Our manager, Sharon Clay Gran, is so great at building community and connections with all of us working virtually. We've had a surprise baby shower when we got together for a work meeting, and we typically do something fun in addition to work. I worked virtually for another company before this, and it definitely did not have that vibe!” – Jennifer McDonald of militarybyowner.com
Do you work from home? What are your top tips for staying connected to your team from a distance?
Check out the USAA – International FAQ
Courtney Woodruff is a military spouse, mom, writer, editor and web content manager currently living in Germany. She has a heart for our troops and their families and hopes to share what little she has learned along the way to help others overcome the unique challenges of military life. You can follow her adventures at her blog, Courtney At Home, or through her social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.