Interaction Styles and Working Remotely
by Susan K. Gerke and Linda V. Berens


Adapted from Susan K. Gerke, Linda V. Berens Quick Guide to Interaction Styles and Working Remotely 2.0: Strategies for Leading and Working in Virtual Teams *Used with permission.


Leading and Teaming

book cover

The workplace has changed. We can no longer assume that the people we need to work with will be in our same location, let alone the same time zone. These people include our managers, peers, teammates, and direct reports. When we are not in the same location or working in the same time zone, we are working remotely.

This booklet is designed with two purposes in mind. The first is to help you understand the issues associated with working remotely. The second is to provide techniques for being successful when working remotely.

Some of you are in leadership roles and some are not. Some of you work on teams and some don't. We've put emphasis in three areas: leading, teaming, and individual contributor.

What Is Leading?

When we talk about leading, we are talking about the role you play when you are responsible for someone else's output. This could be a manager, a project manager, a team leader, or some other type of leader particular to your organization.

Leading can include a number of activities such as setting goals, providing feedback, assigning tasks or projects, managing projects, and so on.

What Is Remote Leading?

Remote leading occurs when the person who is leading works in a different location (country, city, building, floor) or at a different time (shift, time zone) from one or more followers. When the leader or a follower travels extensively, the relationship between the two may be a remote relationship even though they may have desks in the same location. What often defines the relationship as remote is whether there is a need to schedule time to meet versus counting on casual opportunities for interacting.

What Is Teaming?

Teaming describes the activities two or more people engage in to do work together. They may be on a formal work team or project team, or they may just have the need to accomplish something together.

Generally when people are teaming, they have a common goal or objective as well as an interdependence on each other to accomplish the work. They may be teaming on just a portion of their jobs, but that portion requires them to interact.

What Is Remote Teaming?

Remote teaming occurs when two or more employees are working together on a common work product, problem, or task and one or more of them is working in a different location (country, city, building, floor) or at a different time (shift, time zone).

What Is an Individual Contributor?

Any employee who isn't part of a team is an individual contributor. Some employees participate in teams sometimes and work as individual contributors the rest of the time.

What Is a Remote Individual Contributor?

A remote individual contributor is an employee who works in a different location (country, city, building, floor) or at a different time (shift, time zone) from his or her manager.

Interaction Styles and the Strengths of Working Remotely


The independence of working remotely is natural for people of this style. Their natural planfulness is an asset in this environment. They like time and space away from interaction and electronic tools that allow them to give thought to what to do. E-mail suits their desire to have a choice of response time and work with the content at a comfortable pace. For conference calls, they like to think things through ahead of time and create an agenda. They look forward to disengaging to get their work done.


People of this style have patience for the slower gathering of information and like the opportunity for multiple sources of input without pressure to speak-especially on conference calls, where they are less likely to be judged for not speaking. They naturally tend to do a lot of listening and tend to be adaptable to varying work ethics, cultures, and time zones.


The remote environment lets people of this style accomplish work at their own fast pace in situations where others are not involved. Their drive to accomplish and get things done may override some of the issues and obstacles others experience when working remotely. These remote challenges are experienced as nuisances rather than show-stoppers. They will tend to keep the group on task in conference calls and work to keep videoconferences on track. They adapt quickly to new tools when they see how the tools will help get the work accomplished.


People of this style will work to get the involvement of everybody. They get others engaged on conference calls, using their facilitative style and enthusiastic voice. They recognize the importance of face-to-face interaction so are likely to be willing to go the extra mile to make it happen. They will let others know what’s going on, in their own minds or with the project.



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