In recent years, working remotely has gained popularity. In fact, it has grown 91 per cent over the last 10 years, according to Global Workplace Analytics, and we can expect these numbers to continue to rise in the future.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has led to a massive influx of business owners working from home in a way that we had never seen before. This shift could potentially change the future of how we see remote work as a nation.
One common challenge to remote work is to maintain strong interpersonal competencies. When interacting with coworkers in person, this can be difficult, so when doing so from afar, even more difficulties can be expected.
This all means to do our best individual and team work we have to give priority to improving remote interpersonal skills.
Here are some interpersonal communication skills you should concentrate on as a remote worker, whether you are new to the concept or not.
It is crucial that you do so with clarity when communicating while working remotely. While you might consider this a no-brainer, keep in mind that your nonverbal signs aren't as strong when you're not in person. Therefore, telephone communication, video chats, emails, collaborative apps, etc., must be even better.
Three ideas you want to keep in mind when communicating are to:
- State your message without using unnecessary words, which can make things more complicated.
- In your communication, do not be too brief or vague, which may lead to others having to interpret what you mean (and getting it wrong.)
- Have challenging or emotional conversations over phone or video call.
Build a strong voice
When working remotely, the strength of your voice is an interpersonal skill you want to hone in on. Although you want to communicate clearly, you want to talk to some force, too.
You're going to be on team phone calls and video chats as well as other forms of communication where your voice is the only way you show up. Show up at every interaction with clarity and confidence.
Just as you build in person relationships with your colleagues, you want to do the same when you work remotely. That may take some time to get used to, and while it may not feel quite as natural, it's possible.
Consider doing simple things simple, such as
- Check in at the start of your workday as you would if you worked in person
- Ask how others are doing or how their weekend/evening was before diving into conversations and tasks related to work
- Before you sign off remote work at night, check in with colleagues and wish them a good evening, just like you would at the office.
Another important interpersonal ability to work on in the remote workplace is the timely response to emails, telephone calls and other contact efforts.
This is not only generally more professional, but it also keeps everyone related to the task at hand on the same page. Unlike working in person, when they don't get a response from you, no one can stop by your office or desk to see why not, so your written reply to them the only way to get the details they need is.
Learn how others prefer to handle communication
You'll find that not everyone you interact with remotely has the same preferences for work communication, and, in fact, not all circumstances need the same method of communication.
Some people tend to use a video call to tackle immediate problems while others tend to prefer an e-mail or a phone call. If you take the time to learn which your team members prefer you are likely to get better results in general. So, for example, if you notice Sally texts back in seconds, but never seems to answer the phone, text's the best way to go, even if you'd actually prefer a chat.