Work culture has changed across the globe.Across economies and industries office is no longer just the brick and mortar structure you enter every morning. The possibility to work from home, from various locations and time zones has made the concept of work challenging, dynamic and in my opinion way more competitive and productive. It’s liberating to be able to work at your time and place.
Without relocating you can be a full member of a team. Your laptop and smart phone is sufficient to keep you in the loop.
Being a mother there was a period in my working life when being at home for my child was important but at the same time I wanted to continue my career and contribute productively. I was able to do so because I had the possibility to work from home.
Small to mid- size businesses employ highly competent workforce, who work from home and contribute brilliantly in departments like customer service, bookkeeping, content writing, graphic design, IT, research, to name a few.
While working remotely and not having face to face meet ups with your team, there are certain key skills that are required to be productive and achieve superlative results. They are as follows;
1. Self discipline
2. Comfortable work space and environment. Basic working tools; laptop or PC (with an in built camera), good internet connectivity, smart phone, a headset with microphone
3. ‘I am at work,’ mindset.
4. Great communication skills
I always felt the most important skill is communication and a lot depends on it. Poor communication skills, leads to misunderstandings and inability to get your point across. Writer and reader may perceive words differently.
Universal means of communication (official) is telephone and email. Latter dominating the work sphere.
7 things to keep in mind while communicating via telephone (Skype included)
1.If call is pre planned, share with participants a list of talking points. This enables participants to be prepared making the call more productive. Choose a homogenous list of topics. This is especially useful if it’s a periodic recurring call with your team, distributor, agent or supplier.
2.If documents are to be discussed see to it all participants have the documents beforehand. If you are discussing your quarterly sales with the sales team, each participant needs to have the quarterly report in front.
3. Focus first on talking points, do not divulge off topic.
4. Good to maintain a formal tone/ atmosphere during the call.
5. Agree on the call duration, so that time is used efficiently.
6. Keep the social talk till the end & keep initial greetings to a minimum.
7. In case the call is not pre-planned, and you are calling in, follow the above at your end.
13 guidelines to make an Email effective and productive
1. Emails need to be less wordy and to the point. Define your purpose before writing.
2. Use bullets to highlight main points.
3. Paragraphing, listing issues, underlining words, help to draw attention to the main parts.
4. Instead of lengthy explanation try using screen shots ( visuals are always better than words)
5. Referring to a contractual clause; insert the clause for quick reference.
6. Referring to a prior email, attach the same.
7. Begin and end on a friendly line. Don’t be over friendly and dependent on emoticons.
8. Avoid using harsh negative language. To make your point, emotions need to be out.
9. Spell check, check BCC and CC, before pressing the Send button.
10. Keep sentences short and simple. ( KISS )
11. If complaining or arguing a case, try & be balanced, illustrate the counters.
12. Trying to convince, explain with pros and cons.
13. Respond to your emails, even if it’s a one liner. If you need time, simply confirm receipt.
Throughout my career I have had seriously frustrating moments reading emails which totally miss the point, or being part of conference calls which at the end proved to be simply time consuming, expensive with no result.
I often get emails where though there is content, the structure is so poor that you miss the core issue and more importantly unknowingly you are formulating an idea about the sender.
“It’s irksome when people respond without reading the mail thoroughly.Also I like appropriate subject lines as this helps me in retrieving and prioritizing emails.”
Anuradha Mukherjee,Real Estate Country Head at a leading MNC
“What drives me up the wall in email communication is incomplete information: people assume you know what they are working on and ask questions without giving enough context, email is used as a chat. For instant replies, use chat or phone, not email. If you email, allow people to plan their response – use of emoticons belong to chat. Email creates a certain distance, no need to try and cross the bridge by using emoticons. If emails get too long, people don’t read well”.
Pam Brosens, E-Commerce Manager Paula’s Choice Europe BV
“I wish people read and analyze the mail before hitting the “reply all” button”.
Dayeeta Roy, Project Assurance Engineer, Shell Netherlands
Written byShayonti Chatterji
Founder of Our Frontcover. With a career spanning over 20 years, in supply chain management and business development, believes in dreaming and living the dream.