Tips to strengthen relationships among remote workers
It is more important than ever to be organized, a clear communicator, and considerate as we all navigate this difficult time.
With many businesses and offices temporarily closed because of the new coronavirus pandemic, entire companies are seeking out tips for working remotely. It can be difficult to have all of your meetings over the phone and video, and to send what feels like hundreds of emails and messages throughout the day to your fellow remote workers. It is more important than ever to be organized, a clear communicator, and considerate as we all navigate this difficult time. Doing so will help you strengthen your work relationships.
Strong work relationships are key to getting ahead. You will have people who want to help you succeed and will give you advice, pitch in when you are in a pinch, and advocate for you. Whether it is virtual or IRL, the workday goes by faster and is more fun when you like and respect the people you work with. This is how to be a good remote co-worker.
Communicate clearly and concisely
When you are emailing your co-workers, maintain clear and concise email threads. That means using new (and descriptive) subject lines when a new topic is introduced, and being mindful of who really needs to receive the email.
Make your emails more readable by formatting with shorter paragraphs, bullets, or numbered lists. Always have a clear call to action if you need something from someone. Reread your emails for typos and errors, have the right dates and times, and attach the correct documents. When you reread the email, make sure that there is enough context for someone who is less familiar with the subject matter.
If you use Slack or another instant messaging tool, make sure your communication has a professional tone even if you’re working from home. If you are in a more formal office that wouldn’t normally send GIF and emoji responses, don’t start now.
Before calls and video meetings, think about what you want to share and prepare a few talking points in advance so you sound more confident and composed.
Anticipate people’s needs
One of the best ways to impress your boss and other co-workers is to anticipate people’s needs in advance. Will someone want a summary of the next steps after a meeting? Is there a way you could make things more efficient for yourself or make a bigger impact for the team? Be on the lookout for problems you can solve for your team, your boss, and your co-workers. It could be as big as offering to lead a marketing campaign or as small as offering to proofread a colleague’s presentation before the team Zoom meeting later that day. Look for new ways to collaborate across teams to alleviate each other's stressors.
Having a keen sense of patience and understanding are among the top tips for working remotely. Avoid sending emails on the weekends, early in the morning, or late at night when people are with their families and trying not to think about work. Be cognizant of people’s time. Instead of sending 10 to 20 emails or chats throughout the day, send one email at the start of the workday with what you need to move forward, plus any questions you have.
If you know someone is home with kids (because you keep seeing or hearing them in the background of your meetings), try to stick to emails and chats instead of calling. If you are scheduling a meeting or are in a thread about a group meeting, ask what works best for everyone else. If you are planning the meeting, be mindful of different time zones and times like early dinners and bedtime if someone has young kids. You could message a co-worker with young kids separately and offer to take notes during the meeting and send the notes along.
Check in on others
We are collectively going through a difficult time, and it’s more important than ever to be supportive and empathetic. People are likely more stressed than usual and may be having trouble focusing—especially if they are a working parent or caring for an elderly family member. Although you normally might not start your emails by asking how someone is doing or saying that you hope that they and their families are doing well, this isn’t a normal time. If you are close with someone, ask how they are holding up.
If someone does something to brighten your day, send them a meaningful thank-you emails that emphasizes why you are grateful—it means more than simply saying “thanks” at the end of a long email. It can make a big difference to do little things to show your support and appreciation of your remote team.
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