I’ve been “working from home,” as Filipinos would say, or doing remote work, for several years now, and I have seen the pros and cons. But this post isn’t about the benefits or issues of working virtually — it’s about what I’ve learned so far while working for Wings4U as a Production Manager. Here are my top lessons.
I recently found an article about the Philippine Senate drafting a bill to encourage companies to adopt a “work from home” policy. This is not surprising, as wanting to work remotely is a sentiment I’ve been hearing a lot lately as traffic continues to worsen and more disasters hit the country, which can make commuting risky or downright dangerous.
I’ve been “working from home,” as Filipinos would say, or doing remote work, for several years now, and I have seen the pros and cons. But this post isn’t about the benefits or issues of working virtually—you can read more in this Forbes article or even see statistics and insights in the Global Workplace Analytics report on telecommuting to generate your own opinions—it’s about what I’ve learned so far while working for Wings4U. Here are my top lessons:
1. I've learned how to communicate better.
In remote working, communication is done mainly via calls, chat messages, and emails so you must be clear, concise, and direct to the point. I’ve had to be more vocal during calls, as you don’t have non-verbal cues, and I always double-check anything I’ve written to make sure that the recipient will understand what I mean. As a production manager, I need to be super clear in all my communications with colleagues, clients, and artists to avoid misunderstandings that can cause mistakes and issues.
2. I've learned to manage my time and to be mindful of it.
In Wings4U we are spread across different regions, so we usually find the most common “waking” time possible for our meetings across the time differences. To be sensitive to my colleagues who could be taking the call in either their early morning or late evening, I make it a point to be punctual and mindful of everyone’s time. This also holds true when talking to clients.
It is also important to be mindful of your personal time. It’s ironic, but if I don’t keep track, I work more hours at home than when I used to work in an office. I now schedule my work and non-work activities, and do “rituals” to help me transition from work to leisure time, such as working only on my “office” desk or exercising to let me know that “work time” has ended.
3. I've become better at being resourceful
In this Harvard Business Review article, being resourceful is “redefining the possible,” wherein resourcefulness is not only working with what you have, but also being able to optimize with less. I’ve learned this kind of resourcefulness while remote working, as I confer with my colleagues not only to troubleshoot, but also to use the “issues” to innovate and come up with new ideas, approaches, and opportunities. I’ve learned how to develop an innovative mindset because of these experiences.
4. I've learned to trust
Managing a team you see face-to-face is hard, so one would think that managing a virtual team would be harder. For a control-freak like me, I thought it would be extremely difficult, and I am not alone: 75% of managers say that they trust their employees, but a third still say that they would like to see them just to be sure that the work is being done. I’m happy to say though that I was mistaken, and I find it easier to work with a team online. It’s not the amount of face time or looking over your co-worker’s shoulder that gets the work done: it’s having a working relationship based on trust and respect that does. Although it helps to have a clear performance system in place, it still boils down to the kind of people you work with, whether online or offline. I learned to be trusting, and to develop professional relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
Wings4U Co-owner Maria Sztarovics said that “remote working is not for everyone,” and I agree. It takes discipline, resiliency, and a great deal of self-motivation. But virtual work does help you become more self-aware, as I’ve come to realize, and you work more on developing your character. I’m not saying that a virtual workplace trumps a physical office, but it’s good to have options and still be your best self wherever you decide to work.
What lessons have you learned in your workplace (whether virtual or not)? Let us know in the comments below!