This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Valerie Chua.
The pandemic changing the modern workplace is not so much breaking news anymore. Instead of companies having traditional offices, many were forced to adopt a remote working model to continue with their tasks. This transition has been good for some companies as businesses are thriving.
One of the biggest challenges of having a remote company is communication. Gone are the days when you can casually stroll up to your colleague’s desk in the adjacent aisle—now, you need to ping your team members via chat. Face-to-face meetings have been replaced with video meetings, and because your team is not in one place, several things could be happening to them all at once during work.
With that, it only makes sense to adapt to changes and develop a communication plan that will ensure that you and your colleagues get to talk to each other and relay information the best way possible. Here are some tips.
1. Get straight to the point
When crafting messages, be concise and get into the mindset of a writer versus a speaker. Include all relevant information in your text and lessen the usage of filler words. Not to say that you should be robotic—but if you want to get your point across, there are ways to do so. For instance:
- Long version – Hello! Sorry to bother you. Would it be alright to move our scheduled meeting from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM? I think I will be busy, and I wouldn’t want to keep you waiting.
- Short version – Hello! Are you cool with rescheduling our meeting to 4:00 PM?
Unless you need to explain yourself, you do not have to.
2. Set availability times or statuses
It is probably every worker’s pet peeve to send a message and wait for hours before getting a reply. Not only is this disrespectful, but it also breeds frustration and tension in the workplace. You would not want to break your coworkers’ trust or cause them to doubt if you are working on your tasks either.
Two simple solutions would be to set availability times or update your status. For example, you can commit to being online from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and be back at 1:00 PM until the end of your shift. This way, they know they can reach you within that window.
If you have a flexible schedule and your company chat groups have changeable statuses, you can simply toggle it to “away,” “in a meeting,” “unavailable,” and so on. If you have a chat group, let everyone know that you will be out, so they know when to expect you again. Of course, you must be available when there are tight deadlines.
3. Prepare well for video conferences
Just as you would fix up before going to the office, approach your video conferences with the same care. Wear something nice, fix your hair, find a good place in your home where lighting is excellent, and ensure that there will not be any distractions. This is basic courtesy to your colleagues and helps you get into the zone.
If you do not have an area that works as a good background, you can always download an appropriate background image as provided by many video conferencing apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. That way, you do not need to worry about people passing through behind you, which can be inevitable — especially in a coworking space.
4. Use technology to your advantage
In most cases, there is no need to bug someone about the status of a deliverable if you are using task management tools. You can just attach or upload your work there for easy tracking. If this is not available to you, having a manual tracker can also help.
5. Use the proper messaging channels
It would be best if you had proper boundaries defined when you need to send someone a chat versus an email. Similarly, know when you need to initiate an audio call or video call. Make it easier for the team, and use the appropriate tools when necessary.
For instance, asking a quick question or moving meeting schedules would probably be best done via chat. If you are sending lots of files, a brief, or implementing a new policy, emails are preferred.
If you are having a check-in meeting for the company, there is no need for everyone to have their video feeds turned on unless they will all participate in the discussion. If it is a 1-on-1 meeting or brainstorming session, you can have video feeds switched on.
It will all boil down to the context of what you are messaging or meeting about. Use these tools wisely!
Technological advancements have made remote work possible. It is only a matter of mastering the tools available to us and creating rules that make sense for everyone. The bottom line is you want to be a responsible member of the company. Seamless communication will not be perfected immediately, but with tweaks and proper company guidelines, you can get rid of the challenges ahead.
About the Author
Valerie Chua is a Content Specialist at Manila Recruitment, a company providing headhunting solutions for the recruitment of executive, expert, technical and specialist positions in the Philippines. Follow Manila Recruitment on Twitter @MNLrecruitment or connect with them on LinkedIn.