How do you keep in touch with your line manager/boss when working from home? I used to speak to my old line manager on the phone most days, I now have a new line manager and I’d say our communication is informal and infrequent. I email him if I need to chat and then we normally organise a Skype call. The majority of the time he just leaves me to get on with it, but then I have been a remote worker for a while and don’t need much support.
Samantha Gray is a work-from-home writer based in Houston, Texas, where she also volunteers as a tutor for a literacy organization. She received her bachelor degree online and enjoys advising others how they can do the same. She has written a post for us offering 3 alternative communication tools to email for keeping in touch with your boss. I’ve had a go with all three in the past and each has their merits, you just need to find which one works for you. Questions and comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working remotely, despite all of the advantages that it can provide, is more or less seen as an isolated working experience. After all, telecommuters are separated from their co-workers and don’t have the same opportunities to socialize by the water-cooler or have random encounters in the break room. But does that automatically mean remote workers are lonely individuals that feel “disconnected” from their teams? While it may seem that the answer is yes, according to American researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that’s not the case. In fact, researchers found that the idea of a disconnected teleworker is a complete myth — that is, unless employers are bombarding him or her with emails.
Excessive emails—which are generally sent by employers to keep their “lonely” remote workers “in the loop” in an attempt to make them feel like they’re part of the group— don’t help teleworkers feel any closer to their boss or co-workers. In fact, the excessive emails can lead to stressful interruptions, which can make telecommuters feel even less attached to their company.
“It is often assumed that teleworkers need a lot of communication and contact with the organization in order to diminish their sense of distance and to develop a sense of belonging,” said lead researcher Kathryn Fonner in a press release. “But we found that the more teleworkers communicated with others, the more stressed they felt due to interruptions, and this was negatively associated with their identification with the organization.”
As a remote worker myself, I know from first-hand experience that a flood of emails can be a distraction—especially when receiving emails that don’t even give me instructions for an upcoming assignment. Until I spoke up, I used to get a large amount of emails from my boss giving me links to inspirational articles, emails about lost keys in the office restroom, and emails regarding upcoming lunch potlucks (which I obviously couldn’t attend).
So what other methods of communication should you suggest your employer use if you too feel that unnecessary emails (such as those filled with irrelevant information) are distracting you from your tasks at hand? Researchers suggest bringing back the use of a classic—the telephone. Survey participants said phone calls seem less stressful than a bombardment of emails, perhaps since phone calls are much rarer these days. But to learn about some alternative communication tools that I use myself, continue reading below.
In a nutshell, Yammer is the “Twitter” of the business world. It’s a micro blogging social media site that was specifically designed to help business professionals interact with one another. Similar to Facebook or Twitter, each person has their own profile, can adds “friends” (whom are colleagues), and can post updates and statues. Generally, co-workers use the business social media site to post links to resources that can help their co-workers with productivity or to let others know what they’re currently working on. But some like to use the site to make happy hour announcements and tell a good joke or two. Those who have time to chit-chat can exchange conversations via Yammer instead of email or instant messaging. The basic version is free to use.
If your boss likes to email you frequently so that he or she knows that you are on task, an easier way to prove your productivity in “real time” is to create Google Docs within Gmail. Google Docs allows you to enter and check off assignments as you complete them. All you have to do is “share” the spreadsheet with your assignment title and your boss can open the document from his or her computer and see at what times you finish each assignment. Or you can create a document and simply log-in your work so that your boss knows what you managed to complete every single day.
Last but not least you can start creating (and updating) wiki pages. In short, a wiki is an online archive where your boss can submit large files and documents that you and your colleagues can access on a need basis. It’s especially useful since some email accounts don’t support extremely large files as attachments. If you get a new assignment every day, you can go to the archive and retrieve your needed documents without any fuss.
Does anyone else have any great alternative communication tools that they like to use?