Do office dynamics exist, even when the whole team is in a virtual setting? They sure do.
In my previous life at a world-renowned publishing company, office dynamics ran the workplace. It’s how things got done. If you needed a favor or information or even some gossip, you knew just who to go to and who to avoid. I was never very good at playing the game, so when I decided to become a Virtual Assistant, I was more than happy to leave that world behind me.
But six months into my new career, I’m finding that office dynamics exist in a virtual world, too. They may have been slower to catch me, but eventually they crept through cyberspace and ended up in my home office just the same.
The truth is, office dynamics aren’t always bad. Sure, there are always going to be “problem” co-workers and temperamental bosses. But like so many things in life, it’s not the problem per say, but how you deal with it. So what’s the trick to keeping office dynamics at bay in a virtual world? I’m no expert, but here’s what I’ve learned during the past few months.
- Build solid relationships with your co-workers early on when everyone is still on their best behavior and stress levels are low. Keep it professional, but learn about your teammates’ interests, pet peeves, hobbies, etc. Not only does it make work more enjoyable, but it helps to establish a solid foundation, so when you have a question or need an extra hand down the road, your coworkers are happy to help.
- Find out when your co-workers do their best work. Surprisingly, the piece of information that has proven most beneficial to me is learning what hours my co-workers are on the clock and when they do their best work. I have a client where the entire team works virtually, and two of us are just part-time. There are only four of us total, so we operate as a pretty tight group. Two of us work best early in the day (and by early, I mean that I wake up at 6am to a handful of emails). One works best in the late afternoon. And though I tend to be more of an early bird, my day allows me to be flexible. During a normal business day, we all function pretty well together, despite our various schedules. But when stress levels rise and workload is at a max, it’s good to know how to strategically tackle tasks (particularly ones that involve co-workers) to sync with others’ schedules.
- Learn what makes your co-workers tick. My boss likes tidy network folders. My sales guy has no attention to detail. My office manager is extremely knowledgeable and a true team player. Me? Being late stresses me out. The bottom line when I have a big project in the works? Push my sales guy early on for key project details, maintain orderly and accessible network folders so information is readily shared, work ahead so deliverables stay on track, and communicate often with my office manager to ensure nothing is overlooked. Knowing your co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses (we all have them!) keeps harmony and productivity at a maximum.
Every once and again, work-related issues are bound to arise. Office dynamics don’t need to be a pitfall, but they can certainly become negative if not dealt with in the proper manner. Be professional, communicate, and keep your end game in mind: you want to resolve the issue, move on, and nurture a successful, long-term business relationship.
What are the office dynamics where you work? We’d love to hear how you successfully resolved an on-the-job issue.
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