Communicating From Home: 5 Tips for Showing Up Well
As our days working from home stretch out ahead of us (and perhaps our grooming and work habits become a bit lax), what we cannot afford to slack on is our communication. Your work wardrobe may have gone casual, but your communication style absolutely cannot. The current situation: stressful times, fluid information, and distributed teams, require all of us to be connected, informed, and accountable.
So what does that look like from your home office, or kitchen table, or the basement at your parent’s house?
- Over-communicate. Yes we’ve said it before, but it bears overcommunicating: Tell people when you’ll update them and then update people at that time…even if it’s to say “I’ve got no update to share.”
- Acknowledge every deadline. Do not let a deadline pass without doing one of three things: meet it, move it (in advance of missing it), or give a status that you are not delivering, why, and when you will. And then don’t miss the new deadline. Your colleagues and customers can’t see you. So when you don’t deliver, they don’t know it’s because you were called away to solve a critical problem. They can only assume you’re raiding the pantry again – like they probably are.
- Say something good. It’s true that when you work from home you need to appear as professional as possible. (Pajama bottoms are ok. Baseball caps are not.) But that doesn’t mean you need to be all business. Make an impression on the people who work with you by spreading some positivity. Reach out. Ask someone how they are doing. Extend an offer of support. Share a (work-appropriate) meme. Be a force for good.
- Proofread. We’re all on overdrive right now and many of us are managing multiple priorities – kids at home and in need of homework assistance, aging parents in need of care and support, roommates and partners sharing our workspace and the Wi-Fi. So we need to slow down before we hit send on any written communication we share. Proofread your emails and even your Slacks. Then proofread them again. Then, hit send. Quality and professionalism matter when people cannot see you.
- Check your background. And when people can see you – on Zoom or WebEx, pay attention to what else they can see. No one expects you to have a Pinterest-worthy home office set up in a matter of weeks, but they also don’t expect to see your unfolded laundry, a sink full of dishes, or your weird collection of, well, anything. Communication is not just what you say or write, it is everything you project. Be aware of your surroundings.
As our CEO Lee Caraher says, the only thing you can control is how you communicate. So, are you under control?