Working remotely is increasingly the choice of employees from nearly every sector of the economy, and the rate of telecommuting isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Yet while technology enables more and more employees and managers to be away from the office at least some of the time, there are challenges inherent in maintaining healthy lines of communication within a work community. In this article, Dr. Mac Powell discusses six tips for effective communication with team members and stakeholders.
1. Think Much More About Communication Than You Would When in the Office
Working in a traditional office setting typically takes inter-office communication for granted. When we work in an office, we see each other in the hallways, in conference rooms, in bathrooms, even. Communication is ubiquitous and built into the physical spaces in which we work. Working remotely means that personal contact is limited or non-existent, and you absolutely must make a deliberate effort to check-in and communicate with others in your organization regularly.
2. Meet In-Person When You Have the Opportunity
Meeting in person may be impossible if you work quite far from your company’s headquarters, but, if you have the chance to meet in person, you should do so whenever possible. Your remote communications will be much more meaningful and efficient if you have personal relationships with your co-workers. Sometimes, the context of an email can be lost if you haven’t had regular face-to-face communication that helps convey a sense of shared values, humor, or perspective. If you haven’t already done so, consider off-duty meetups for remote and in-office staff.
3. Spend the Necessary Money for Reliable and Functional Tech
One of the most significant drawbacks to remote work is that there is no on-site technical support! You’re it. Having a fast and reliable internet connection is obvious. I also recommend some high-quality headphones, cameras, and microphones to help ensure that you are clearly heard (and can hear). Finally, one of the things that I always notice is the surroundings in a videoconference. Create a space that conveys a professional environment through the medium of communication you use with peers.
4. Take the Time to Learn Your Company’s Collaborative Software
Most companies that have remote workers will have some collaborative software and apps that make remote working more efficient. You will likely get some training, but additional self-teaching on the apps your company uses will be time well spent. Furthermore, your increased efficiency will reflect well on you. Most companies have software that facilitates communications, conferencing, file sharing, project management, and cloud storage. Be sure that you have access to all of these tools and are using them correctly.
5. Use All the Communication Tools Available to You
Don’t limit yourself to using email to communicate with your office. Instant messaging systems allow you to take advantage of text communication to talk quickly and efficiently without cluttering up your inbox. VOIP phone calls work just as well as traditional calls or intercom systems. Video conferencing and screen sharing are also very effective at getting ideas across clearly and quickly.
6. Work on Your Writing Skills
The communication channels we’ve discussed typically require written text. Work on concise and clear written communication, and craft your writing for the intended purpose and audience. When you are sending quick messages to a co-worker who you communicate with throughout the day, an agreed shorthand system can also be handy. When talking with a manager or someone you do not message regularly, try to use standard business writing to get your thoughts across clearly and professionally.
About Dr. Mac Powell
Dr. Mac Powell has authored over 100 articles on the importance of higher education and has given speeches around the world to encourage self-improvement and peak performance throughout all areas of a person’s life. Educational access, transparency, social diversity, and inclusion are all very close to Dr. Powell’s heart. He mentors other LGBTQ professionals to help them advance in their professions and helped John F. Kennedy University transform into a service-learning and Hispanic serving institution.