How to Communicate Effectively When Working Remotely

Cindy Makita

By Cindy Makita

Cindy Makita

Cindy Makita

Career Coach

Within teams, we are tasked with maintaining high levels of productivity, motivation, and “workplace” morale; and as individuals, we are required to produce our best work while, again, being part of the team and showing up as our very best consistently.

Effective communication when working remotely is not easy. As a remote intern, you want to communicate often and ensure you and your team are on the same page. You also want to make sure that what you’re communicating s received in the “right” way. For example, sarcasm is not always obvious via text.

To ensure you are communicating effectively while working from home, we’ve put together a small guide:

1. Make sure you ask these questions when you are starting to set the tone for effective communication going forward into your internship:

a. Who is my main point of contact when I have a question or concern?

b. What is our main form of communication? (Do we use Zoom, Slack, email, or a combination?)

c. What are my employer’s communication expectations? (Does my employer expect daily check-ins, weekly check-ins, virtual meetings, or to only contact them in case of an emergency?)

d. What is the policy for weekend working? Am I expected to answer emails on the weekend? It is very important to be aware of expectations regarding working “over time.” Setting clear expectations will help you avoid ambiguity and uncertainty.

2. Communicate clearly, openly, and frequently. Overcommunicate and don’t make assumptions:

a. ASK! ASK! ASK! Ask for more information and help when you don’t understand and especially ask for feedback each time you submit work or complete an assignment. Something as simple as the following can help you receive regular feedback and help you develop in your role:  “Please see the attached report as requested. I really look forward to hearing your feedback on how I can improve.”

b. Don’t make assumptions. If your supervisor has not emailed you back after 2 -days, don’t assume they are ignoring you or don’t want to help. They could be busy and might have missed your email. Simply send a follow-up email. It is important to not make assumptions but rather over communicate.

3. Be mindful of virtual body language: 

a. Researcher Albert Mehrabian found that “55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is the tone of voice, and 7 percent is the actual words spoken.” When you are getting on a video call remember that posture is key! Sit up straight and look at the camera. Smile and show you are excited to be part of the meeting. Your virtual body language says a lot. Don’t be caught slouching, looking disinterested, and not engaged. You are there for a reason and you can communicate your eagerness through your virtual body language.

Maintaining strong and lasting working relationships inside your team when working remotely is achievable through effective communication. These best practices can rapidly build trust, lead to productivity and output increase, and help you avoid awkward communication mishaps. Strive to set intentions for communication early, communicate openly and honestly, and be aware of your virtual body language.

About Cindy Makita

Cindy Makita is a Career Strategist & Coach, LinkedIn Career Expert, and founder of Hired Institute. Passionate about helping people take a strategic approach to their job search and land jobs that fit their skills and passions, Cindy is a fervent believer that everyone can and should love their work. She is also a global advocate for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

By Cindy Makita

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