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How to Communicate with Your Team When You’re Working Remotely

20 March 2020 

A lot of responsibility is placed on team members that are trusted to work remotely. They are expected to perform at the same level as their colleagues in the office. They also have the additional burden of having to stay “in the loop” and manage the expectations of their team members and supervisors. Here are some tips about communication that may come in handy when you’re working remotely.

Over-communicate, but don’t spam people with information

Some call it “transparency” – making sure that other team members are aware of what you are working on and maintaining open lines of communication. Transparency helps to avoid duplication of work and allows team members to identify and correct small issues before they become big issues. In an office, you are much more likely to know what your fellow team members are working on because you are constantly over-hearing the cross-cubicle conversations. When working remotely, though, you need to go out of your way to make sure to stay in the loop.

Keep it high level

When trying to decide between over- and under-communicating, it is wise to always err on the side of over-communication. However, this can be a balancing act. Too much information can be just as useless as not enough. If you send a weekly report to your team (or your client) with a high-level view of what you are working on, they will surely come to appreciate it. However, if you send five emails a day outlining every small detail, they will stop opening your emails.

Define your channels

You need to define communication channels where you can outline all of these necessary details without being obtrusive. The goal is not to make sure everybody sees all of the details when you report them, but to make sure that the details are there and can be found if and when they are needed. This can be facilitated with technology, using project management and team communication solutions such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoho Projects, Asana, or others. In fact, there are too many to list. Even Facebook has a team collaboration solution available.

Collaboration-tools

The above list is by no means comprehensive and includes tools with different feature sets. There are many possibilities and no one “best” solution. It is important to find a solution that works for you. In the language services industry, many of the tools we use every day have built-in collaboration features. To see which translation management systems include team collaboration, you can check out the Nimdzi TMS Compare Tool and TMS Overview.

Show how you are following through on your commitments

Something that remote workers should realize is that even the most trusting of managers will have bad days. When they have those bad days, they may start asking themselves questions such as “what is this guy even doing all day, anyways?” Is this a constructive question for a remote manager to ask? Sometimes, but often not. But it will be asked.

Your job, as a remote employee, is to help your manager to always have an answer to that question. This doesn’t mean doing “busy work” or sending dozens of emails to make it look like you are super busy. Managers can see right through that. What it does mean is that your work is tracked, your hours are logged, your files are on the server where they are supposed to be. 

Mostly, though, it means that you are delivering as expected. This should go without saying, but the best way to keep your (remote) manager’s confidence is to make sure you are following through on all your commitments. Basically – do your job!

Curious about remote working in the localization industry? We collected feedback from 185 professionals working in language services to better understand their remote working practices. There hasn’t been a better time to visit the report, which we made available to the public.

Remote Work by Experience

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