The Long-Distance Teammate

Executive Digest

Remote working is nothing new, but in the last year its popularity has skyrocketed as it became a necessity instead of a commodity. Written by the founders of the Remote Leadership Institute, The Long-Distance Teammate is the most authoritative single resource for helping remote workers get work done effectively, build relationships that are both productive and satisfying, and maintain a career trajectory when they are not in constant close contact with their leaders, co-workers, or the organization in general.

The book tackles three important issues: navigating the personal and interpersonal aspects, growing the skills to be productive, and communicating effectively—all from a distance. After all, there is a big difference between simply working from home, and being a productive team member. 

In this summary, you will learn:

  • The 3 P Model for remote work success
  • Strategies for staying motivated when you work alone
  • The importance of ethical visibility
  • To lead great remote teammates
 

Working remotely is not just a new normal, it is an opportunity to work in new ways that can provide improved operational and productivity results. Being a long-distance teammate covers a variety of situations. It could mean being part of a team that will never meet face-to-face, or a team that sees each other a few times a year. It includes hybrid teams, where some work in the same location, and others work elsewhere. The mindsets, skill sets, and habit sets you need to succeed as a part of a team in any of these situations are more similar than different. 

 

Three Key Words

  • Teammate
  • Engaged
  • Connected
 

A true teammate is very different from just a team member. A true teammate implies a deeper level of connection with who you work with. Being engaged is not something that is done to you, it is something you choose to do. Engagement is much more than employee satisfaction. Are you or your teammates putting heart, soul, and effort into it? Are you satisfied with the minimum or do you usually go the extra mile? Are you connected to your teammates?

The 3P Model for Remote Work Success

  1. Productivity: Getting tasks done is not the same as productivity  At the end of the day, real productivity is about getting more of the right or best things done—not how much time you spent doing it.
  2. Proactivity: Research shows one word that both managers and workers agreed best describes a great remote teammate: proactivity. Proactivity isn’t just about tasks; it’s also about your mindset. It requires bravery, trust, and engagement, and may be the single most important component in your long-term success as a remote worker. 
  3. Potential: Finally, do you consider the long-term implications of your work and the choices you make? This is perhaps the most difficult thing about working remotely, and often contributes to feelings of isolation and disengagement over time.

A critical part of your ultimate success is recognizing your role on the team and making it part of your work every day. 

 

Your job = your work + team work. 

The teammate mindset starts with clearer expectations of yourself and others. Until you see your work in this way, you can never have the kind of success and impact that is possible.

Getting and Staying Motivated When You Work Alone 

Make sure you set boundaries on how much you will allow yourself to engage with work from your phone during non-working hours. 

Here are some other tips for keeping your energy level high:

  • Take breaks.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get exercise.
  • Talk to people.
 

Building a Healthy and Productive Morning Routine

  • Allow yourself time to wake up before reaching for your phone. 
  • Be mindful of starting your work before you actually start your work. 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • End your day as mindfully as you begin to make sure your brain knows you are off work.
 

Getting Clear Expectations for Your Work

While it might seem obvious, when we don’t know what is expected of us, it is nearly impossible to succeed. Unfortunately, unclear expectations seem to be the norm more than the exception, especially for remote workers.

If you are ready to be more clear and be kind as you do it, here is a series of steps you can take to create clearer expectations for yourself (and the other people, too):

  • Ask for time to have the conversation.
  • Create a series of questions.
  • Be clear on what you need.
  • Have an open conversation.
  • Write the expectations and metrics down.
  • Agree and commit.
 

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Feedback, or the lack of it, play a crucial role in individual, as well as team performance. Providing feedback empowers you and your team to evaluate your performance and understand how things can be improved. 

Tips to make feedback effective:

  • Make it a two-way conversation.
  • Use the phone or the webcam.
  • Slow down.
  • Stick to the facts.
  • Make it meaningful.
  • Be specific.
  • Be kind.
  • Be timely.
 

Taking Care of Yourself 

What about you? If you’re not healthy, motivated, engaged, and relatively sane, it’s difficult to be productive, be proactive, or think about the potential of your work. There are two key areas where you need to take care of yourself. 

Physical comfort and well-being: 

  • Are you sleeping enough? 
  • Is your work environment comfortable and functional? 
  • Are your habits healthy? 
  • Are you taking breaks? 
 

Balancing your Work and Home Life 

With our homes and offices being essentially merged, it becomes hard to differentiate our work life from our home life. In order to do this it is essential to set some boundaries and take some additional steps. If possible, try to get a separate space for your work; this will ensure that once you are outside of work space, you enter your home space. If this is not possible, try to stick to a schedule and avoid going back to work outside of it. 

Spend some time on yourself and your family, and remember not everything is work. If you allow work to take over you home, it will be very hard for you to be proactive, productive, and to work to your full potential. 

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