When managers say what they most want from remote workers, they repeat one word more than any other.
It isn’t skills, initiative, time management, or even productivity (though all of those are critical).
The word is “communication.”
The issue of communication isn’t unique to remote workers. On-site teams struggle with it too. But it’s especially easy for communication to drift when people are separated by time zones, language, and product focus.
The good news is effective communication can be learned. Here are tips for improving remote communication habits.
UNDERSTAND PREFERENCES: Know the expectations about communication frequency. Many remote managers prefer over-communicative workers. Others are wary about too much of a good thing. When in doubt, ask directly.
BE PROACTIVE: People who don’t communicate don’t exist. Make a schedule for keeping in touch. It could be a progress update or a comment on something you saw on Slack. And let your team know if you’re going to be out of touch for any reason.
KEEP IT BRIEF: This is especially true in emails. Keep the BRIEF acronym in mind —Background, Reason, Information, End, Follow-up—to help you keep your written communication short and effective.
ORGANIZED: This relates directly to above. Create a note about what you need to know, ask, and say before reaching out or getting on a call or chat.
ENGAGED: There’s no escaping the fact that excellent communication requires engagement. Learn how to ask great questions. Summarize and repeat what you heard the other party say or share.