What does it mean to be a colleague in a digital workplace?

We’ve heard the term digital team circle around for the past few months, but have we really talked about it on an individual level? Shouldn’t the same thought process also apply to being a digital colleague? Today I’d like to coin the term and what it’s all about!

As a digital age offspring, digital methodology is deeply rooted in my work and way of communicating. From over emoting just to make sure no one is pissed off, to simply thinking everyone knows that a “hmm” means I’m thinking and will respond soon. The latter was actually the inspiration that spawned this week’s topic. But overall it made me think that it’s more important now than ever to actually discuss what it means to be a digital peer to cooperate well with your online teammates.

So, to get started I tried to write a list and kept coming back to the following;

  • Being a team player
  • Being independent
  • Being a strategist
  • Being open minded
  • Being creative
  • Being a digital tool enthusiast

Being a team player

This is a given in any situation, but it’s all the more crucial in a remote office to connect and communicate well with your team. Not only does it create a positive social environment, but it helps everyone sync with their current tasks. I find that it’s best to actually overshare if it’s a bigger task online and actively go through what you’re currently working on or where you’re at. For example, while working on a recent task – what I’d usually do is just quickly brief my colleagues, and then get to work. This time around online, I tried to make sure that I briefed my team, updated as the project came along and let them know when the results were delivered. Not only did it help my colleagues get a better understanding of what kind of work comes with the specific task, but it also helped everyone to operate around a busy schedule. But being a team-player doesn’t just mean that you share your work, you also share your ups and downs together. And the same goes to say when you’re working remotely. Make sure you reach out and give kudos to those who do well or provide feedback and help to those who need it. This is the time to show that you can really work together towards mutual goals regardless of where you’re at.

But more importantly, let’s not focus so much on the me player, but the team player. The usual cue of frustration like a sigh at the coffee machine or fiddling with a pen just doesn’t exist in the digital environment. This is the time to be a little extra proactive rather than reactive. Try reaching out to your colleagues on a regular basis to see how they’re doing or if you can help each other out. Maybe they’re struggling with a task that you didn’t know about, and maybe they in turn know the exact answer to your tricky question!

Being independent

When you sit next to your colleagues every day, it’s easy to just turn around and ask what an incomprehensible telecom term is in Swedish. But while working from home, no one wants you to call to just ask for the translation of a simple phrase. This mentality also applies to chatting. One or two times is ok, but when you’ve sent away 5 words in different strings, they’re not going to be ecstatic to help out. So, when you’re working from home and you can’t use your jeopardy lifeline one more time, try to jot down all your tasks and organize them accordingly. Challenge yourself and show that you as well as your teammates can rely on what you do. This is the time to put your problem-solving cap on and try to figure out the solution yourself rather than directly turning to your team. And if you do have questions, write them down, research, and send away that really long email when crisis is imminent.

Being a strategist

In relation to the topic above and with no one to immediately turn to, it’s crucial that you structure your work as well as your questions well. Plan all your daily tasks in a strategic schedule, and leave some room during the day for questions and concerns. Collect all the questions as you go along your workday, and make a note of what task the questions belong to. And when you do have the time, organize the questions so it’s easy for your colleagues to understand, respond and provide feedback. This will not only help you approach difficult questions in a strategic manner, but it will also facilitate the feedback round with your colleagues. Because it’s far easier to respond to questions and take the time to provide proper feedback if you’re not being spammed with a message every hour like the example above. Plus, when questions are sent from all kinds of mediums during different hours, it’s easy for some to fall in between the cracks.

Being open minded

While at home you can’t just call over your colleague to look at your presentation. So just sending it over through an e-mail leaves more room for misunderstanding, or missing something overall. This applies to any work managed online. But the important thing here is to be open minded to different kinds of responses. You never know, maybe someone actually feels more implicated to give you decent feedback that makes you presentation a lot better. Because for some it might be intimidating to say it right to your face if you have naturally wobbly eyebrows like me. Being open minded about things, will not only save you some frustration caused by misunderstanding, but might help create an open dialogue that allows more room to communicate an error. This is also the perfect time to get a little creative of how you go about things at work. Maybe try to create a fun and colourful anonymous survey that collects all your feedback.

Being creative

In addition, this is a time where you might not be able to do your tasks as you usually would. So try to use your creativity when some tasks are tricky or questions are left unanswered – and do your research online. Also, a pro tip from our team; Youtube is your friend. Maybe this is also a great opportunity to try a new digital tool to facilitate work between you and your colleagues. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to take the time to try a new digital graphic tool if you work in marketing like me. What’s important here is to have an open minded and creative approach to your daily work when all tools aren’t available. And if you find something great, don’t forget to share with your colleagues. Who knows, maybe you’ve found an awesome new strategy that can be applied to remote work as well as in the office for your team.

Being a digital tool enthusiast

As a CPaaS supplier we have a bunch of great available tools to help all teammates stay connected and work as effectively as you would in office. Therefore I also want to raise awareness of how digital tools can help you transition more smoothly to a digital office. If you currently don’t have a system in place, discuss with your team what you actually would need on a day to day basis to connect and work together. The same also applies to your individual work, do you have everything that you need? As the current situation is most likely to span throughout the rest of the year, this is a great time to invest and get started with the right digital tools. If you’re not completely sure of what you need, you can always reach out to our support and they gladly will help you figure out a good solution for you!

What does being a digital colleague mean to you?

Coupled with this post, I asked different colleagues of what their idea of a digital colleague is. These were these responses;

“A digital colleague makes good use of all the digital tools available. A colleague that easily is able to switch between chat, call, video, screen-sharing and mail. All to use the right tools for the given situation and make work as easy and effective as possible”

– Ludwig J. Rydin

”To stay in touch and reach out. While working remotely you obviously don’t see each other as much and it’s more important than ever to stay connected. Since it’s easy to feel lonely during these circumstances, it’s vital to feel you are a part of a bigger context. It creates meaning in your work”.

– Anonymous

“To be socially involved, maybe in a form of group chat. To have fun, but also to help your colleagues out, is something I believe is important. If you’re not involved you miss out on the social aspect and maybe you don’t evolve as much. I work individually, but by being involved in my colleagues tasks, I gain more knowledge about tasks beyond my own.”

-John Säfvenberg

“Someone that is great at responding. People that work in the physical office have an opportunity to collect thoughts and sync ideas and situations by the coffee machine. A digital colleague needs discipline to provide that feedback without being ad hoc. It requires a different type of planning and a different approach to your chat and email.”

– Elin Gunnarsson

Conclusion

All in all, don’t be afraid of the times ahead, and see it as a time to challenge your work performance and team ethics. Approaching it with positive attitude, might actually bless your teammates with a digital colleague that is connected, aware, and prolific.

By Sofia Svantesson
Brand Marketing Manager
Unified business communication and collaboration is key to streamline workflow.

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