Adapting to remote working

Remote working - it's our thing

The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has swept the world in a global pandemic, upsetting the plans and patterns of businesses and personal lives everywhere.

We are all having to adapt and find new ways to work and communicate.

Over the years, many companies have adopted remote work as a norm; however, working remotely is still a new concept to many.

GPSL focuses on customization and innovation within our field. Given that specialization, we search for talent around the world to serve our customers.

This requires us to be a mostly remote company.

While some staff are in offices around the world, most of us work remotely and, over many years, have learned lessons (sometimes the hard way) about virtual offices and working online.

Since we enjoy sharing our expertise to our customers, we thought it would be beneficial to offer some tricks for adjusting to the virtual workspace.

Below are our top five tips for working remotely that may help for those who are new to the online office.

1. Over Communicate

There is something different about communicating face-to-face that does not carry over to emails or instant messages.

Non-verbal communication is lost when the communicators are not in the same room. You can gain some of this back through video conferencing, but that is often reserved for formal meetings and comes with its own awkwardness.

With routine, everyday communications, take extra time to read emails (and even instant messages) thoroughly before sending.

Check for tone and possible misinterpretations.

Think through instant messages.

An extra minute or two reading over written communication can make all the difference. Adding a smile emoji at the end of an internal message can convey the right tone.

If there is a topic of substance, remember your smartphone is still a phone.

Calling someone or scheduling a meeting can replace a day of trading emails. A good rule is that any email longer than a paragraph would probably be served better with a phone call. Or if you have kicked a topic back and forth in more than two emails, it might be time to just hash it out in a call.

2. People Exist

While this current situation may not (and hopefully will not) last long, people who are accustomed to being in an office surrounded by others may feel isolated or even forgotten.

This may be a difficult and unsettling adjustment for many people. If you are a team lead, supervisor, or manager, take some time to check in on your employees. Ensure they are transitioning well. Ask if they need anything. Let them know you are open to chat anytime.

More often than not, your employees will not require anything. However, just knowing that they have cover from you in case something comes up or that they have the outlet available to vent if needed improves moral and prevents remote workers from feeling “left out.”

3. Are You Around?

When in an office, it’s easy to see if someone is available.

You can walk by their office and see if they are there on the phone or simply heads down in the middle of something.

However, you can’t (or shouldn’t) drive by a coworker’s house and see if they are home without being a bit extreme...if not creepy.

To keep your coworkers appraised of your availability, be sure to keep your calendar up to date.

Use the Scheduling Assistant found in most email applications to see when people are open and to schedule meetings when all participants in your organization are available.

Use the status messages found on any instant messaging application to let people know if you can chat. Look at coworkers’ status before jumping into a conversation. When in doubt, send a message asking, “Are you around?”

This may sound simplistic, but little details like this prevent frustration and help to plan the day.

4. Ask Before Calling

Speaking of instant messaging, there is an etiquette that is worth mentioning.

It may sound strange, but instant messaging has different rules about calling someone than using the phone. (Again, remember, your smartphone does make phone calls.)

Many instant messaging apps like Microsoft Teams, Skype, or WhatsApp have calling features.

It’s tempting to just hit that call button and get an answer, but this is not well-received behavior when using these apps.

Instead, with instant messaging, it is proper etiquette to ask before just making an online call. As previously mentioned above, a coworker’s status may not be readily apparent when you are not in the same office. They may be on another call, in another meeting, wrangling a toddler, eating a meal. It is always good practice to confirm a coworker’s status before sending that call.

5. We are in This Together

The most important thing to remember is that working remotely is very different from being physically present in the office.

Virtual offices may be the norm for your organization, and you’ve worked this out. That’s great! If it is new to you, it will be an adjustment.

Whether remote work is new to you or you have done it for years, remember that everyone is doing their best.

Most people are not intentionally trying to offend or irritate you. Sometimes, people may be busy and could not take the time to reread that email or check your status icon. Be patient with others and give them the benefit of the doubt. It is easy to get yourself worked up alone in your home office.

If (when) misunderstandings happen, use that phone.

Call and work it out. Reestablish your common goals. Remind yourselves that there is another human on the other end of the communication who is also trying to adjust to this new way of working.

We hope these tips are helpful.

As a solutions company, we try to meet our customers’ needs beyond just implementation. If you have other questions about how GPSL can help your organization with projects in these strange new times, feel free to reach out.

Our status is always Available.

You can get in touch with us here.

Stay safe and healthy.

The GPSL Team


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