It usually starts the week of Thanksgiving. Everyone seems to switch off from work mode and go into vacation mode. The holidays are for professional types what summer break is to kids. Between the varying vacation schedules, the holiday hustle, and the increased social mixers that spring about this time of the year, the underlying question becomes: is it possible to stay focused during the holidays? I would argue not only is it possible, but it’s absolutely crucial. Staying on top of a work schedule during the holiday season not only gives you a competitive edge, it also smoothly gets you running into the new year without the steep recovery and regrouping period that everyone else will undoubtedly require. In the process, we also find two key things most companies completely forget about during the holidays.
First time remote workers might have some difficulty with the freedom, the lack of boundaries, and the inevitable distractions. This is also a good time to map out expectations and develop a communication and project management strategy between team members – leading us to our second point on strategy mapping. Michael Watkins from Harvard Business Review recently wrote a great article on this, entitled “Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles.” In it he suggests teams physically get together early on to get on the same page from the start; reconnecting regularly at a scheduled time also helps everyone stay on track. Watkins recommends committing to a ‘communication charter’, designed to outline how a group will communicate and what’s expected at that time. [Here I’ll interject to remind you that different people have their own way of communicating. For example, some people prefer a call to email and some don’t email a confirmation response, which others might require or prefer so they know a message has been received. Now is a good time to gauge how people prefer to be contacted and what basic levels of communication are expected from one another. Communication tends to be the biggest pitfall when it comes from working remotely, especially through the holidays]
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