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How Working In An International Virtual Team Improved My Life

by Nina Kovacic on October 22, 2015
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Virtual working culture is a part of my life since 2012. Starting to work only like that was a big change. After years of going to the office and working face to face with people, I was suddenly alone in my house and I was supposed to work in an environment where I usually only rested and had fun.

It was a change and a challenge. On Friday I left the office I was working in and on Monday I turned on the computer in my room and started to learn my new job for Wings4U. Since I already had side projects in the past that I had done from home, my transition from onsite to virtual was smooth.

Looking back, I am glad I made that decision. These are the six most important things that virtual culture brought me:

1. Meeting some great people and having friends all around the world

It was very strange in the beginning to work with people you have never met. But, after some time, even though you’ve never seen these people in person, they become your friends. You work together, talk about different things, you learn from each other. And the feeling when you meet for the first time people you already care about is really hard to describe. Today, I have friends from all over the world.

2. Overcoming geographical boundaries

In the country I live in, it can be very challenging to find a good job. And working virtually means there are no boundaries and borders and there are no limitations in landing a great opportunity. There are so many great companies that offer awesome jobs that can be worked from anywhere in the world. A lot of startups who build amazing products have virtual teams. With some effort it is possible to live in one country and work for a company on the other side of the world.

3. Embracing the Digital Nomad lifestyle

It sounds amazing that you can work from anywhere in the world, right? Well, it is. I am able to travel and to work from anywhere I want. That feeling of freedom is something that motivates me every day. I don’t have to plan a vacation to travel, I just pack my laptop and I am ready to go. In October I plan to visit Rome and Brussels. In December I will spend few days in Barcelona. In January I will spend a few weeks on a mountain. These are the perks I would hardly give up for an office, no matter how fancy the office is. Also, there is the fact that I can plan my trips months ahead and travel more with less money.

 

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4. My cultural awareness rose to a whole new level

I like to read. I read about different cultures but it’s only when you actually have a chance to meet someone who lives in a different culture that you can understand and embrace the wonderful diversity. I became more aware of my own cultural values. Being able to listen to different stories from all around the world and learn about people, cultures, values and their way of life is something that shaped me into the person I am today. I am developing more and more cultural sensitivity every day.

5. I started feeling like a citizen of the world

When you have friends and colleagues all around the world, global events are not just something you hear in the news with little or no emotions. Being able to hear about world events first-hand means I can deeply understand what is going on. I see myself as a dot on a map connected to the rest of the world. And I feel so happy for that.

6. I am constantly improving my skills

No matter if you have a strict or loose hierarchy in a virtual team, there is no boss over your shoulder. Sure, there may be a manager or a team leader, but in a virtual team it’s really up to you to get your job done. It was a big change for me to suddenly have some targets and tasks and no one to ask me if I had finished them. Sometimes I felt the need to send an email at the end of the day to say what I had done, so my team would know I was working! But now, I love this aspect of my work! Virtual teams are about trust, the trust you have in your colleagues and vice versa. Virtual culture is about constant learning and self development; I always search for ways to be more productive and more organized.

Virtual culture means that communication is mostly done via emails or chats. A person who is reading an email or chat will read what you write, but their understanding is also influenced by their mindset and current mood. Being clear and transparent in communication is beyond important. Thinking twice before hitting enter is crucial. If you are writing an email to a person in your office you might keep it short and official. In a virtual culture, communication is about showing your emotions in written words without using emotional words.

One hint: Never, ever write an email if you are not feeling positive and happy. And smile while you write.

Of course, virtual culture is not a match for everyone. Some people prefer strict daily management, others feel isolated and lonely without going to the office and some need strict distinction between the place they live and work. But, looking back I can say that this was the right choice for me. It gave me a chance to learn new skills, meet new people and grow as a person.

And that’s why I love talking about it and sharing my experiences.If you have some questions or want to talk about this topic, don’t be a stranger!

This great article by the lovely Nina can also be found on LinkedIn.

 

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