oh the weather outside IS frightful and has resulted in me spending an entire week marooned at home: too nervous of the wintry weather to venture onto the treacherous roads and even more treacherous pavements.
Has this affected my ability to do my job? Added to the several £billions lost in productivity during the cold snap? No! of course not... I am a teleworker!
This week I have:
- followed up a marketing lead for a new post graduate course (by phone & email)
- conducted an informal appraisal of a new member of the tutor team and provided him with a number of resources to support his teaching (phone and email)
- checked with the team on progress with the marking of the programme's final module (Blackboard, phone, email)
- held tutorials with a student (via Skype)
- collaborated with colleagues on documentation for the validation of a new Module (email)
- found out about a really interesting up and coming conference and booked onto it (via Twitter and Eventbrite)
- organised some appointments for next week (Outlook calendar)
- read the current edition of a great journal about e-learning (on line)
- discovered a fantastic file transfer site (via postingon Twitter) and used it to send some huge files to a colleague whose email provider kept on rejecting them
- taken part in a research study conducted by an academic based in Brazil (via Twitter and Googledocs)
- started to write up the findings from some research of my own (conducted with distance learning students via Googledocs)
- used the rest of the time to re-work the Virtual Teams module based on that feedback, students' assignments and a personal review of what has and hasn't worked this time.
- taken part in many fun and thoughtful conversations on Twitter and through reading others' blogs
I have also been giving some thought to what the Virtual Leader should be focusing on in times of inclement weather. For the most part, it's the same as usual, but more so.
Making sure the team members are safe and well and not taking unnecessary risks - maybe even issuing some guidance about home working/travel safety and ensuring those who have to be out and about, because of the nature of their jobs, check in regularly.
Keeping in touch - not to check up that those stranded at home are being properly productive, but to discuss with them what they are able to do, what they could be catching up on, checking what support they might need in rearranging commitments, and even just being a friendly ear if they are going stir crazy after a few days stuck behind a wall of snow!
Even more importantly, if just one or two team members are stranded whilst others have made it into the team meeting, look at how you can involve those who have become temporarily disconnected - with teleconferences, Skype or even just an email to fill them in on what is happening. Encouraging team members to buddy up and chat on the phone to keep each other up to date is also a good idea: it's not just the boss who should be oiling the social wheels of the team but all members can share this responsibility.
The great thing about Yammer, Twitter, even Facebook contact with my colleagues this week is that it has given me a sense of continuing to be part of the work community and afforded a few classic "water cooler" moments where we share news and a joke. Continuing to feel included is important for teleworkers.
An "out of sight, out of mind" attitude is just plain lazy leadership, whatever the weather!