There’s one aspect of teleworking that I’ve found a little bit hard to get my head around, and that’s working extensively with a team I’ve never met.
Let me clarify: there’s my immediate team, and I’ve flown to Houston on a couple of occasions to meet with them. So that’s covered.
But a lot of my work involves projects, and for one of the projects I’m leading, I have met exactly 1 of the 10 people on the team. And this is six weeks into the game. It’s not a bad thing, per se, but it definitely requires a different coping strategy. Given that I can’t just trot over to people’s desks to talk to them when I see they’re off the phone, I find myself calling and leaving a lot of voice messages, or trying to carve out time in our calendars to talk. It takes away from the spontaneous camaraderie of the team, but it’s not insurmountable.
It certainly hones your skills at distinguishing people by their voices. You really don’t want to be that guy who, six months into a project, is still asking “Who was just talking?”
It also makes for one of my favourite experiences: the first meeting with someone you already know very well. I’ve already created mental images of what all these people look like, and at least 95% of the time I am so way off that I spend the first few minutes of our physical acquaintance just rubbing my eyes and trying to adjust to the reality. However, I really enjoy the goodwill and enthusiasm that accompanies a first-time meeting with someone you’ve worked alongside for a while.
It’s one of the small pleasures in life, and I’ll take it.