The Virtual Individual

Dana Sednek Bowler specializes in eLearning, virtual meetings/collaboration, project management, analytics tools & strategies, and leadership facilitation. She puts these skills to work at Interaction Associates as the online learning manager.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Working Online

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:     Take the person who works online, all the time. Let’s say, out of their home, or they’re always virtual. What are some of the challenges they have? We need that human contact – can that be done just virtually or not?

Dana:    Definitely some challenges that folks who work from home can face in terms of that human connection and feeling like they’re connected to the workplace. Especially if they’re one of the lone few who are working remotely and everybody else is in the office, right? They’re going to miss that opportunity to have some of that time to be able to get to know their colleagues and their coworkers beyond just the work that they’re doing – get to know them on the human level. Like, the stuff that they like to do outside of work, or build friendships and relationships in that type of working situation. However, I don’t think that it can’t be done.

I actually have a lot of my colleagues and great collaborators whom I have never met face-to-face, and yet have built such a deep relationship with them because we have spent time virtually getting to know one another, beyond just the work product. We take the time out to say, “Hey, how was your weekend? What did you do?” You know – what are the things that you like to do that really recharge your batteries when you’re outside of work. What are some of those things – and be able to take that time in the front-end of meetings to check in with each other beyond just the content or the results that we’re trying to achieve. If you have too much focus on results, you’re not attending to your personal relationships, or the relationships that actually help build and foster trust. That’s a critical component there. I think the other challenge that I’ve found myself – if I spend more than three weeks at my home office, not really interacting with anybody face-to-face, I seriously feel like I have atrophied skills with, like, networking and seeing people face-to-face. So I go out – if I’ve spent too long in my home office, then I go out to a networking thing or I go out to meet some people that happen to be work-related. I forget – what kind of questions should I be asking to get to know one another, like, I just forget about it, right? So, my skills atrophy, and I feel more awkward when I’m in a face-to-face environment. In order to combat that, I feel like, for me, it’s every two and half weeks is where I pretty much hit my mark where I actually need to have a human, face-to-face, contact in order to keep my skills sharp.

Joe:     So, you really should plan some type of business activity, or – can I go out with my bowling team and bowl, OK? I mean, would that be good enough?

Dana:     You know that’s interesting. I think that making sure that find time for both of those things when you’re working remotely is really critical and important. When I used to work for a company whose headquarters was on both coasts, and I was here in Denver – we actually had an office here in Denver, but I didn’t know anybody. Finding that collegial connection with others helps you become a continuous learner in your job and in your profession. So, I really do suggest taking time out for the types of things that you like – like going to bowling with your league, or, like I like to do, riding my road bike. That’s really critical because that gets you outside of the box of the stuff that you’re working on at work – but, similarly, it’s so important to be able to make connections in your network so that you can have conversations about stuff that you’re working on in general and get some kind of other expertise, or other expert insight into the work you’re doing so that you can maybe get a fresh perspective. At the same time, building these relationships for your network that are close to home, because you never know what happens in these days – one day you could find yourself working from home, and the next day you could find yourself not at that job anymore. What are the connections or networks that you fostered that can help you get your next job, or your next gig, or your next project.

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