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5 Ways To Improve Your Communications With Remote Coworkers

Work-from-home professionals offer their advice for staying in the loop.

5 Ways To Improve Your Communications With Remote Coworkers
[Photo: Flickr user Elvert Barnes]

When we think about working remotely, we often think of it as a thing to be envied. After all, what often first comes to mind are the perks: setting one’s own schedule, wearing PJs to the “office,” and spending more time with family. But working from home isn’t all sunshine and daisies, and the communication complications that arise as a result of having a physically separated team can be frustrating.

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If even just part of your team is working away from the office, you’ve likely seen at least one message lost in translation. To avoid a repeat offense, take a tip from these five communication-savvy professionals—they’ve all been there before.

[Related: How To Stay Sane While Working From Home]

1. Stay professional.

One challenge of using one of the many communication apps available—some of which you probably already use to keep up with your friends far and wide—is remaining professional. Even though apps like Whatsapp and Slack are typically a less formal means of communication, keep in mind that you’re talking to your boss. If you’re meeting over Skype, dress how you would if you were meeting in person.
MacKenzie Reagan, freelance writer and social media coordinator for Gistory

[Related: These Apps Will Make You The Master Of Productivity]

2. Follow up frequently.

I generally have a rule that if I don’t hear back about something in a week, I will follow up just to make sure my email didn’t get lost in the person’s inbox. I’ll also send out an email to different managers I have freelanced for before about once a month, asking if they have anything that they need me to do if I haven’t been assigned something in a while.
Mollie Barnes, freelance writer

[Related: The Right Way To Send Emails]

3. Keep everyone in the loop.

Automatic notifications are key. Make sure you decide with your team which notifications are considered important, and read every single one of them. And if something important is decided in a spoken conversation, make sure you send a summary of the decisions to the affected parties. Or better yet, update the relevant documentation system so an automatic notification is sent out.
David Butler, director of software engineering at Levo

4. Make your presence—or lack thereof—known.

When working remotely, it’s important to make sure you’re a good digital office mate. The same way people smile and say hello when they enter a physical office, you can say good morning and good night when you clock in and out for the day, and welcome your colleagues when they do the same. If you work in different time zones, announcing you’re in or out is a good way of clarifying when you’re going to be reachable online. Similarly, if you’re off in the middle of the day, announce it in advance so none of your colleagues are panicking if they can’t find you.
Andrew Grosso, VP of product at Levo

5. Try to meet in person.

For me, it’s always been important to go out of my way to meet any remote managers in person as soon as possible. Grab coffee or lunch and get to know each other on a more personal level. It’s the best way to get a feel for your manager and establish a foundation for the relationship, even if it will be mostly via email going forward. If you’re too far away to meet in person, try to at least set up a video chat—it honestly makes a huge difference.
Kelsey Manning, freelance writer

This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.

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