Try these tips and tricks to keep communication open with your colleagues when working remotely.
One of the best things about today’s modern technology is the ability to work from pretty much anywhere in the world and still be connected to your colleagues. Workers no longer are restricted to offices or hotel business centers to accomplish their tasks and remain in the game. As long as you have an internet connection, you’re set!
Yet communication can still be tough to maintain. There are any number of factors that play into this—time zone differences, distractions at home, illness, and even just plain old forgetfulness. Here’s a list of tips and tricks to help you stay in touch with your colleagues no matter what challenges you encounter!
- Schedule communication
- Project management services
- Buddy up
- Connect and create community
Schedule Communication with Cloud-Based Services
Cloud-based services vary in complexity, but they can be as simple as using a shared doc. This type of tool allows you to collaborate in the moment because you can see editing happening in real time. Supplement that with chat and video services to greatly improve communication in a personal and immediate manner.
The quickest and easiest way to work on projects while remote is by using a cloud-based service like Dropbox. Sharing files with a service like Dropbox helps you monitor versions and updates anywhere you go. Use Dropbox to store, send and share large files that are too bulky for email and to promote collaboration through interactive commentary.
All of the work is easy to organize and progress is easy to track. Nobody has to hunt through messages or wade through pools of folders to locate the correct files. Any type of file is readily available and usable no matter what type of computer or technology the collaborators are using.
It works by creating and using links to files, instead of sending the actual file. Collaborators can comment on and download the linked file, but your original document remains unedited. All of your work is accessible, but you still maintain control.
Schedule & Maintain Communications
In order for remote working to actually work, you need to maintain communication with your colleagues and boss. To do this, you need to manage your time and organize effectively. If you’re finding that a challenge, seek out a refresher course. Your company may provide one, but local libraries are an often-overlooked resource (they’re also great location to work from remotely).
Set yourself a schedule and follow it. For example, schedule time every morning at 8:30 to call, video chat, or chat online with each colleague to recap the day’s tasks. At lunch, spend time discussing non-work related issues or office goings-on. At the end of the day, send a progress report to your team. Every Friday, send a progress report and recap to your team and your boss—even if it’s not required or asked for, this sets you apart as an organized and trustworthy employee who knows the 411 on the project.
Leverage every ounce of technology to keep communication going. Email is a bit slower than a chat or video call, but it’s still useful. Use it for communication that doesn’t need an immediate response, or to secure in writing a schedule for further communication.
Something else to consider: ask open-ended questions. Learning to rephrase your questions from closed to open creates space for dialogue and interaction—it also invites new perspectives on everything from the answers you receive to the ways in which you speak and write.
The difference this can make is staggering. For example, instead of asking “Is the project completed?” ask “Before we hand this in, what are everyone’s thoughts on xyz?” You can even practice this at home. Instead of asking your child “Have you cleaned your room?”—the answer to which has the potential to create anger—ask “Can you please explain to me why you haven’t finished cleaning your room?”
Be prepared to listen and validate all responses. If a colleague has a better way to accomplish a task, encourage them to try it. You both gain a reputation for innovation—and you for listening—which can promote others to ask you for advice. And as for your kid’s room, the answer could surprise you by leading to great teachable moments and a healthy conversation.
Buddy Up and Saddle Up
You’ve heard of the wonders that finding a workout buddy can do. It’s the same with a work buddy.
Now, you should be building a rapport with all of your colleagues. It’s not favoritism to have a closer connection with one or two over the rest. Make these closer connections your work buddies.
Work buddies work for the same reason a workout buddy does—accountability. Each day, you won’t want to let that person down. Each day, you reach out and work together. Each day, you inform each other about what worked and what didn’t and you compare notes to create a solution.
Think about other ways to leverage this connection with technology. For example, try screen sharing! You can immediately see each other’s actions and work together more seamlessly. It also avoids the need fo a long chain of emails and comments.
Having an in-office work buddy also means that if you can’t make it to a meeting, someone is there to speak up on your behalf. You should always try to be at the meetings via conference call, video conference, or online chat. But if you absolutely can’t attend—or if your presence is not required—having a colleague present in the moment who is familiar with your ideas and views ensures that your voice is heard.
Outside of meetings, if you’re in the office, there's a good chance that other coworkers won’t be able to put a face to your name. They might not know who you are, but they know your work buddy! A good workplace friend will speak up about you in casual conversation and identify your accomplishments to others. This will familiarize them with you and your role and make them more likely to feel comfortable coming to you with questions.
Connect and Create Community
When you work out of the office, it’s important to find opportunities to connect outside of the work realm. Your colleagues will appreciate the opportunity to get to know you better, and it can solidify your presence for them in a way that video chats just can’t offer.
This is especially effective if you travel frequently or if your colleague(s) also works remotely. If you’re in the same area, stop by for lunch or a coffee—even if its a weekend. Do things together that aren’t office-centric.
In office-speak, this is team bonding. And it works—you’ll all feel a little differently about each other at the end. Building community doesn't have to mean organizing elaborate paintball matches or laser tag competitions. It can be as traditional as a company picnic or as simple as walking your dogs together. Other easy and fun things to do include taking a cooking or crafting class, forest bathing, ghost tours, book clubs, mani-pedis, or even tending a spot together in a community garden. You can also volunteer together.
Whether working remotely is a privilege you’ve earned or a lifestyle you’ve perfected, it’s important and key to success to maintain connections with your colleagues.
If you have the ability to work from anywhere, make the most of these tips and tricks to stay connected to your colleagues.
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.