Welcome to the Work from Home age.
The impact of the covid-19 virus has suddenly transformed the global workforce into largely a remote workforce. For some, their familiarity with technology has made the transition a relatively smooth one, with more conference calls and Zoom chats. For others, learning digital etiquette and use of technology requires some getting used to. Below are guidelines and helpful tips to follow and share with colleagues to collaborate better.
Designate channels for types of communication
And stick to their purposes. It can add to the stress to sort through emails, texts, Slack messages, voicemails and other forms of communication to find what you’re looking for. Having multiple forums for different types of communication –– such as urgent vs. long-term planning –– can help as long as everyone is clear which forum is used for which type of communication. Once a system is in place, it’s much easier to find what you need in a timely manner.
Remember the phone call
One rule of thumb is to have two or three email replies before you pick up the phone. It can be much faster and more efficient to have a 5-10 minute phone call to hash out details rather than 5-10 emails back and forth. It also helps to bring a sense of humanity into a conversation simply by hearing someone else’s tone and voice.
Take advantage of chat – wisely
Quick text chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams can be time-savers if you need a quick question asked without opening up and composing a whole new email. But it can also be a time suck when chat turns into a longer discussion that’s better for a conference call or email. Or it can splinter your focus time if you constantly get pinged. Feel free to on an away message or set your status as busy if you don’t want to be interrupted while you’re working on a project.
Don’t overuse reply all
With the best of intentions, people try to keep others in the loop by replying all to an email chain. But before you send a message to everyone by default, consider if everyone needs to read what you’re about to send. Overcommunicating in terms of replies to everyone can bury someone’s inbox, and hide some of the most important communication that needs addressing.
Technology can be a godsend when it connects us across locations or time zones when there’s no other way to reach out. But also can take over. Make sure when you’re working remotely that technology is your tool, and you’re not becoming a tool of technology.