When you work from home, it can be easy to lose some of your social graces. After all, working in a traditional office reinforces good communication and positive interactions between staffers. So when you work from home, it may become harder to communicate effectively with the rest of your remote colleagues. Here are some ways in which you can foster better communication when you telecommute.

Keep a calendar. Your colleague has a question but isn’t sure if you’re around or not. By having an accessible calendar—such as a Google Calendar—your virtual office mates can always know when to reach out to you—and when you’re busy.

Be proactive. Let’s say that your boss sends you a terse email. While your first reaction might be to recoil (and then hit delete), it’s best to have a plan of action. You might need to get up from your desk for a minute to reclaim your thoughts and give yourself a breather. Then, sit down and reread the email. Perhaps you initially misunderstood the intent of the email or reacted too quickly. If after taking some time you still don’t understand why your boss is upset, you should pick up the phone and call—don’t email. Being proactive will not only help you clear the air, but it will also ensure that nothing gets lost in telecommuting translation.

Listen well. Most of our communication comes from non-verbal methods, such as the way someone is standing or the look in their eyes when they are listening to you—or not. When you have a remote job, all of that missed body language might cause you to misconstrue what someone is really saying. So whether it is during a Skype meeting, a conference call, or just talking about a project on the phone, take the time to truly listen to what the other person is saying.

Be accessible. A friendly tone on the phone and in emails can go a long way in establishing open lines of communication between colleagues. Also ending your emails with an invitation for people to follow up with any questions can also help bridge the virtual gap. You can also appear to be available on your company’s instant messenger as well.

Any remote worker can achieve excellent communication
among his or her colleagues. All it takes is some practice and your communication skills will rival that of any traditional office worker.

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