How To Communicate Effectively as a Remote Work Employee

October 3, 2017

After much web browsing and a little soul searching, you did it. You landed a sweet new gig as a remote employee. Congratulations! Remote work is a game changer for military spouses.

 

We believe you have the skills to kill it in your new role. But we do have a few tips for tackling the nuances of remote work that you may not have considered. Let’s dive in and set you up for success.

 

 

Establish Expectations Early

When it comes to communicating with your boss and your team, it's important to be as black & white as possible. Don’t leave anything up to assumption or interpretation. The most important factor here is your time. Between multiple time zones, deployments, crazy spouse schedules, crazier kid schedules and more, there are many, many things grabbing for your attention. Let your new company know your working hours and exactly when you will be available.

 

Be sure to pin down a time for regular check-in meetings, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Use this time to review your schedule, anything foreseeable that may throw a wrench in the plan, and make sure it’s working for you and HQ.

 

Set up a clear plan for feedback and turnaround times. The corporate team should let you know when you can expect to hear back on specific tasks such as emails, approvals, calendar invites. For example, at my company, we are to respond to emails within four hours. If we receive an email late in the day, we get to it the next morning.

 

Buy Into the Technology

There are many project management & communication tools used by companies today. Here are a few examples:

  • Asana

  • Basecamp

  • Slack

  • Trello

  • JIRA

Maybe you’ve never heard of these, or you’ve used them in a previous role or even to manage your personal life and projects. (I’m seriously considering creating an Asana board for an upcoming PCS, but that’s another blog for another day.) Either way, get on board with these early! If your team uses multiple cloud-based tools, get familiar with the best practices for using each one. Know when to send a Slack chat and when to send an email. And if you’re not sure, ask. The point is, you need to make an effort to get on the same page.

 

Take Initiative

It’s possible that you are the only or one of the few remote employees at your company. In this case, you’ve got to take the initiative and speak up to make the role work best for you. Introduce one of the tools above or video conferencing. But don’t casually mention a new tool in a meeting and expect it to take off. Do your homework. Find the best tool for your situation, make your case, and be prepared to train the crew on how to use it. Take the initiative and then provide them with the support they’ll need to make it a success for everyone.

 

Take Care of Yourself

To communicate and perform effectively, you have to be sure to take care of y-o-u. It’s like they tell you on airplanes, “Secure your oxygen mask before assisting someone else.” You must take care of yourself so that you can be a powerhouse employee.

 

Recognize when you have a mental block or burnout starts to set in and act quickly. Make a plan to leave the house at least once a week. Yes, we realize the point of working from home is to do just that: work from home. But wearing the same PJ set for weeks at a time and eating ice cream for lunch each day will start to make you feel restless. Trust us on this one. Join your local co-working space, or pop into a coffee shop. Attend networking events regularly, and establish a workout regimen that gets you out of the house.

 

Taking steps like these to fight burnout will make you a better employee overall.

Communicating effectively comes down to one thing: being proactive. Know yourself, know your time, and take action accordingly. Are you looking to kickstart your work from home routine? Drop into edge co-working for a day and feel the difference!

 

 

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