(This story was written by our very own Leandro and originally published on dev.to — a community for software developers)
Ever had that feeling that nobody recognizes your work? Well, that can escalate real quickly when you work remotely.
Communication is a key factor when working remotely, but you need to be ready for the nuances of remote communication. It is nothing like learning a foreign language for example, but it has its own methodology.
A parrot can talk too
If you are an extrovert, you may find it easy to talk directly to people in person, but when the person can not see you, or maybe sees you through a small video, it is hard to use all that unspoken communication. Hence the importance of speaking clearly, saying it twice, asking people what they understood if needed. Also, if you were not much of an email person you may want to practice reading and writing in formal business language. It is quite different from internet language and you will use it more often now.
Although formal writing may not be a problem for introverts, they have their own struggles too. People that don’t talk much can benefit from the increase in written communication, but suffer much more while bringing the in-person connections down to zero. In the office you would probably cross paths with many people and, whether willing or not, would talk occasionally. But remotely you can be left alone all day long.
But don’t get too cozy being all by yourself. Remember, to hide, in remote work, is the last thing you want.
Being seen used to mean you were working. What now?
Yeah, the focus changed and you need to change too. What you really want now is to use your communication skills to address only important matters in the best way you can. And to do that, you will start by keeping your status updated on the company calendar, on instant messaging platforms, on Jira. You will update your status on anything that can track status. Let’s say your company uses Skype, Trello and Outlook — well, you may want to keep those updated. You don’t have to write “went to the bathroom” on your instant messaging app, just keep it online when you are available.
“OK Leandro, but do I have to do that all the time?”
“Of course not, only when the status changes.”
Again, your boss can’t see you in your chair anymore. Make sure you communicate what you are doing, especially on long tasks where they may think you disappeared. And if you are the boss, create this culture and lead by example. People are not used to giving this type of feedback by themselves.
Believe me, it was easier to fool your boss before, when you were present
If you need to leave the “office”, for let’s say 30 minutes, let people know. They won’t get angry because you had to go out to do some personal stuff, even if it takes one hour instead of 30 minutes. But if you vanish, and they try to contact you in that moment when you were out doing something ‘real quick’, things can get complicated.
In the end, it is easier than you think. We are all humans and we know unforeseen events may happen. So, if you communicate all the foreseen events everything will be fine. You don’t have to mourn the passing of Grandma every time you go out and get caught 🙂
Last but not least: Check your communication channels, don’t let them let you down. Have a backup plan in case your internet connection breaks or a blackout happens in your neighbourhood. A simple charged smartphone can do the trick.
Now tell me, do the people that work with you know what you are doing right now?