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Virtual Harmony: A remote worker’s guide to effective internal communication [Part 3]

11. february 2024 · 8 minute

If you're a regular reader of our blog, you probably know that we've been offering insights into effective internal communication within remote work environments through our ongoing series titled "Virtual Harmony."

The main focus of the guide is on widely used communication tools such as email, Slack, and Zoom. It's divided into six categories, each of which addresses different facets of internal communication.

  • Tools
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Team management
  • Mental health
  • Online meetings
  • Email 

If you haven't had the chance yet, you can catch up on earlier segments of the guide by checking out the following articles:

As a continuation of the previous part, this post contains tips on "communication tools and personal communication skills." Read on to further improve your communication effectiveness and self-awareness.

 Part 3 - Flatio

Communication tools and personal communication skills 

Communicating your material needs.

When you work remotely, you might feel less confident and insecure because you can't show off your skills in person.

This might make you hesitant to ask for things like a raise, a new laptop, or a subscription to a product or service, even if you really need these things to do your job well and these requests are acceptable based on your contract or other agreements negotiated with your employer.

But it's important to ask for what you need, with respect of course.

When you ask for something, be sure to explain why you deserve it. If you want a raise, show how your work has gone above and beyond. If you need a new laptop, explain how it will help you work faster and better. If you need a subscription to a product or service, communicate properly why it's necessary. 

Don't ask from a place of weakness or desperation. Instead, be confident and strong.

And if you're a team leader, consider meeting these needs before someone has to ask.

Letting go of your ego

Having too much ego can make it hard to communicate effectively because it stops you from expressing your true feelings and needs. But having a big ego only ends up hurting yourself.

For example, someone might not ask their coworkers for help even though they know it could make their job easier. Their ego gets in the way.

A balance between independence and asking for help is good for everyone. It helps you become a better person, reduces stress by letting you ask for help when you need it, brings you out of your shell, makes your coworkers feel important, and benefits the team in the long run as things become more efficient.

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Admitting mistakes

In virtual workplaces where we use modern communication platforms, it's easy to hide after making a mistake. With so many messages flying around, you might think you can just let it slide and not admit to your error.

But avoiding honesty and integrity can hurt your career and make others trust you less over time. Being professional means owning up to mistakes openly, right where they happened.

Avoiding over-apologizing

It's common to apologize too much, especially when you lack confidence, are insecure, and worry about how others see you. But it's important not to say sorry for every little thing that isn't your fault.

For example, if you accidentally CC someone in an email and this hasn't caused any harm, there's no need to apologize. Just send a message saying they were mistakenly CC'd.

Or, imagine you message a colleague on Slack and they reply saying they're on vacation, without telling you before. You could reply:

  • "Sorry, I didn't know you were on vacation. I'll follow up when you're back."
  • "Thanks for letting me know. I'll follow up when you're back."

The second reply is better because it's professional and respectful without unnecessary apologies.

Avoiding over-thanking

Having good manners and being grateful is important, but thanking someone too much can send the wrong message.

It might make others think you're insecure, lacking confidence, insincere, or exaggerating. It could even suggest you don't feel you deserved the favor.

So, it's crucial to find a balance between feeling good about yourself and showing appreciation.

This can be hard for people from cultures where over-thanking is common. But those who can adjust their behavior benefit the most.

Not imposing your assessments on others

Sometimes, messages like "Can I call you real quick?" or "Write a quick article today" might seem harmless. But using the word "quick" can be tricky because it means different things to different people.

For example, 15 minutes might be quick for one person but too long for another. And what's considered a quick amount of time for one task might actually take longer for someone else, depending on their skills, experience, and workload. 

It's best to avoid assuming how much time something will take for someone else.

However, there are times when it's helpful to communicate how much time is expected for a task, especially based on its importance.

For instance, instead of using the word “quick,” a team leader can provide specific instructions, such as: “Please spend no more than 45 minutes on this assignment.” 

This gives clearer guidelines without imposing subjective assessments on others.

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Complimenting a co-worker to their boss

Everyone appreciates a compliment, but its impact can be even greater if it's made in front of their boss or separately shared with them. Alongside praising the person directly, it's good practice to ensure their boss knows about their excellent work.

You can do so by CC'ing their boss in emails containing the compliment, praising them during video calls where their boss is present, sending a private message to their boss, or complimenting them in a shared private channel on platforms like Slack. 

Believe us, they'll feel flattered and remember this kind gesture for a long time to come.

Being flexible

In today's world, being flexible is key to success, especially in teamwork. This also applies to how we communicate within our teams.

It's a good idea for everyone to be open to flexibility when it comes to scheduling online meetings or setting times for regular calls.

For example, if a colleague asks to adjust the meeting time by 15 minutes, it's better to accommodate their request rather than sticking strictly to the usual schedule.

Their reason for the request could be personal or work-related, but being flexible is important regardless.

However, it's essential for individuals to use this flexibility responsibly and not take advantage of their team leaders' accommodating attitude.

And remember, if you want others to be flexible with you, you should also be willing to be flexible with them.

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Being able to make decisions independently

Communication can get complicated when some team members can't make decisions on their own. They end up involving people who aren't related to the topic being discussed. This isn't just unprofessional and distracting, but it also makes the conversation longer than necessary.

Being able to think and decide without relying too much on others is an important skill for effective communication.

It doesn't mean you shouldn't ask for help or advice when needed. Everyone needs assistance sometimes. But it's important to be mindful not to involve people who aren't relevant to the conversation, out of respect for their time.

Similarly, if you get a message from a colleague that's not related to your work, it's okay to politely decline to get involved. If possible, you can direct them to someone who might be able to help them better.

Agreeing to disagree respectfully

People have different opinions about things, and just knowing this can stop arguments and tension. It's important to accept that others might not agree with you, and it's also important to disagree with others respectfully.

Keeping an open mind

A big obstacle to good communication is being too set in your own opinions. It's important to be open to new perspectives, even if you don't fully agree with them.

Being prejudiced or intolerant of different views can hurt you and make others lose respect for you, especially if you're a leader. 

Feeling responsible to report issues

You might have experienced situations like a power outage in a shared house. Often, people hesitate to report them because they assume someone else will take care of it.

This same pattern happens in workplaces, whether physical or remote. Issues like internet problems or important news about the company might go unreported because everyone thinks someone else will do it.

This assumption can lead to workplace problems lingering or never being addressed. It's important for all team members to take responsibility and report such matters instead of assuming someone else will.

However, if you're certain the issue has already been reported, like seeing a message about it on Slack, there's no need to report it again. Just follow up later if the problem persists.

Choosing the right settings when sharing Google Docs files

When sharing documents with colleagues, consider using Google Docs instead of sending them as attachments. Google Docs allows you to edit in real time, chat, and leave comments and is accessible from anywhere.

This means you can easily make corrections after sharing the document, avoiding back-and-forth discussions on revisions. Using Google Docs gives you more control over the content, reduces redundant communication, and minimizes distractions and misunderstandings.

Additionally, it prevents duplicate copies and ensures important information isn't lost.

However, some people forget to review the sharing settings of Google Docs files, which can lead to the person they shared the document with not having the necessary editing permissions.

This oversight can cause delays, as the other person must then request editing access and wait for the document to be shared again. To avoid this, always double-check the settings before sharing any file.

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Shortening URLs or using hyperlinks instead

When including a link in a message, it's best to avoid long URLs because they can make your message messy and hard to read. Instead, consider using URL-shortening websites.

Another option is to use hyperlinks, which allow readers to click on linked words or phrases to access the intended information. However, hyperlinks may not be ideal for platforms where they aren't very visible and can be easily overlooked. Before sending, always ensure that the link works correctly.

Reducing use of jargons

It's helpful to know the specialized terms used in your field, but it's crucial to use them appropriately and for the right reasons—not to show off, for instance—and in the appropriate context.

Especially when talking with someone new to the field or a general audience, it's better to use simpler words instead of technical jargon. This ensures your message is clear and doesn't distract from the main point.

Familiarizing yourself with common texting abbreviations

Knowing and using common texting abbreviations, like "EOD" for "end of the day," can make communication faster and give your fingers a break.

Using text-to-speech software

Typing long messages can be slow and may lead to wrist pain over time. To prevent this, consider using a laptop instead of a mobile phone for longer messages, learn keyboard shortcuts, and invest in ergonomic devices like chairs, tables, mice, and keyboards.

Another option is to use text-to-speech software to type longer messages, which can help maintain your physical health and speed up communication.

Not making too many requests at once

Every team member has the right to ask for reasonable favors or make requests in the workplace. However, it's not considered professional to make these requests one after another without pause.

To maintain professionalism, prioritize your requests based on their urgency and importance. This prevents others from thinking you're taking advantage of the situation. 

For example, let's say your company is giving out laptops, and you need one. Meanwhile, you've used up your paid leave but urgently need a few extra days off to finish a deadline for your thesis. In this scenario, it's best to address the more pressing request first and wait before making another request for the laptop.

Speaking with people, not at them

During group discussions, it's crucial not to dominate the conversation and ensure everyone has the chance to share their thoughts. True communication involves listening and speaking, not just talking at others, which is bound to fail. 

We hope these tips can help you communicate more effectively, particularly in a remote workplace.

Stay tuned for the next part of the guide!

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One more thing before you go! 

If you're a remote worker or a digital nomad exploring the globe and looking for flexible accommodation for rent, you've come to the right place. 

Flatio is the platform where you can find accommodation in over 300 destinations in Europe and beyond

Our focus is on monthly stays, ranging from rooms to apartments to houses, but we also offer short-term rentals from 5 days. For stays of less than 180 days, no deposit is required unless required by local regulations.

Our lease agreements include utilities and Wi-Fi and serve as valuable documentation for visa applications and proof of address. 

With a secure payment system, including the Bitcoin option, and round-the-clock customer service, including a 24/7 emergency call line, your peace of mind is our priority. 

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