This article on virtual employees landed in my inbox this week and I found it quite fascinating. It points out that 47% of Canadians spend at least some of their time working from home. However, since it was written the whole world has changed and that number is sure to have skyrocketed. Being a part of a virtual team is not currently an option that leaders can plan deliberately, with a lot of pre-determined structure. It is a structure that has been imposed on many of us and has it’s challenges.
Every good leader takes the time to know their team – what makes them tick, what motivates them, what are their strengths and weaknesses and how can we create an environment that allows them to thrive. We all want the type of team that is fully engaged and firing on all cylinders however this study indicates that virtual employees already experience much lower levels of engagement than in-office workers for a variety of reasons that relate to virtual work type.
The Six Main Types of Virtual Employees
According to the article, there are 6 main types of remote workers – all with their own individual preferences around work environment and team interaction. Which ones apply to your team?
1) The Natural – These team members slide into a virtual setting with ease and adjust to it quickly. Hopefully your team has lots of these – but ensure they have all of the resources they need to do their job or they can become complacent. If virtual teamwork is new to you, get input from someone who’s been doing it for a while and find out what they need in terms of set up to get their work done.
2) The Hybrid – These types like both virtual and office settings and enjoy floating between the two. In today’s virtual workforce, that option is not available for most so look for ways you can keep the Hybrid connected to the team. Schedule video meetings and be sure to spend a bit of time on the non-work-related chatter we all experience when we’re at the office.
3) The Honeymooner – Honeymoons are great….but they all end sometime. If you or someone on your team is a Honeymooner, it means that you thought the new work structure was amazing when it first started. After time though, you may have started to notice more of the challenges that accompany home offices and you may also be yearning to get out of said house and back to the office. It’s good to check in with virtual employees regularly – they may have been excited and engaged at the beginning, not everyone will sustain that energy. Finding ways to keep your team connected will take some creativity. Consider injecting some fun team building games on some of your zoom calls.
4) The Overachiever – This hard worker can seem to really thrive in a virtual teams setting. They don’t miss the office talk too much and prefer to work with few distractions. The danger they need to be aware of is burnout so regular check ins are a great idea to make sure they are keeping a good work-life balance and remembering to take breaks now and then.
5) The Solo Act – Autonomy is the key to the Solo Act’s success. They like being alone and can accomplish a lot without any help from anyone else. This isn’t all bad but it’s not what it means to be part of a team. Teams that have high levels of collaboration also experience greater creativity and make better decisions than those who fly solo. This type needs to have opportunities to interact with others on projects or work tasks.
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6) The Creature of Habit – It’s all about organization and structure for these types. Having things planned out and then followed are what makes them tick. Change is happening quickly to all of our teams though. Giving your Creature of Habit tools to help manage these transitions will help them stay on track and not get derailed by all that is going on.
So, what type are you? What types are your team members? What are you going to do about it?