How Do You Keep A Strong Presence In An Increasingly Virtual Workplace?

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© frank peters -

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As I’ve talked to other folks who work remotely, especially those who work for companies with a traditional office presence, one of the main concerns seems to be this: how do they stay front of mind when they are so far away? Relationships are formed in hallway conversations, water cooler chat, and impromptu lunches.

And certainly, they can be forged online too. But working remotely presents its own sets of challenges. If you’re an HR pro who deals with remote workers or are one of the people who works remotely, there are some steps you can take to help.

The changing landscape

I was able to talk to Patty Azzarello, a frequent contributor to TLNT and also the author of Rise: How to be Really Successful at Work AND Like Your Life. And during our podcast interview, we talked about how the changing landscape of work is impacting some of the things we used to take for granted.

“I know a lot of people who have never even met their boss,” says Azzarello. So those people ask, “How do I make an impact when nobody sees me?”

This trend isn’t going away either. As companies look to cut travel and relocation budget,s and workers demand more flexibility, the future is going to see more, not less, people engaged in work outside of the office.

How do you cope?

When other folks in the office get much of the face time with bosses and other influencers, it’s important to make the most of the opportunities you do have.

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Azzarello says, “You have to make yourself more present and a conference call is a great time to be present. If you put your phone on mute and do your email, you aren’t engaged.”

She also says that you need to take responsibility for something during those calls, even if it is small. “If you raise your voice and take the responsibility to follow up on a project, that’s something you can do easily,” she says.

Sometimes, it is more than taking charge of a conference call. It can be as simple as a five-minute phone call to touch base on something that you might normally do over email. The remote employee needs to be the one to initiate this. “Take the responsibility to exert your presence. Call people. Make that connection,” she said.

In our interview, Azzarello goes over several more techniques you can use to be more present, even when you can’t be there in person. Take a listen and let us know how you deal with being a remote employee or dealing with remote employees yourself.

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Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.