Working from home, whether as a remote worker or virtual employee, is pretty common these days.
Having employees in different locations is not only a way to get things done round the clock, without commuting, and with hard-to-find skill sets but is also a way to meet the needs of employees who don’t want to or can’t live near a company's headquarters.
But consultant Meghan Biro notes you must "know thyself, know thy culture" to make it work:
As an entrepreneur who works with virtual teams, I need a somewhat different set of skills to manage the remote players. I need to maintain a corporate culture supportive of – and with technical and communications systems in place – to enable remote employees to be successful. Here I must be self-aware, in tune with my skills, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. It also requires me to be empathetic, emotionally intelligent, sensitive to what others need, and willing to provide the tools necessary to success – not just a mission statement and goals, but the communications and technical infrastructure to empower virtual teams.
As Rich Thompson writes in the Harvard Business Review, self-awareness is the key to a more flexible workplace:
Rather than detailing a job description and looking for someone to match it, companies should look for people with the right fundamental qualities and then allocate tasks in such a way that they apply their talents productively and develop important new ones. Furthermore, companies must acknowledge that those people may already exist within their own ranks, and implement processes to make the best use of existing talent.
Building a collaborative workplace with remote workers hinges on understanding people – whether it be a new hire or long-time employee. But the best wasy to discover what makes people tick is with helping them understand themselves.