Human Resources

Telework and Telecommuting Series – Pt.8

Hey Compliance Warriors!

This section will go over communication and why it’s vitally important to your productivity. We don’t want to be doing overlapping work or change up projects and not know about it, right? Read on…


Part Eight: Communication

Communication is one of the most important tools in the workplace. Whether in the same office or several miles apart in remote locations, communication is the key to having a successful team. With so many options available in the workplace (email, instant message, phone calls), the team should be aware of the best way to communicate with each other and stay in constant contact.

Stay in the Loop

One of the challenges teleworkers face is not being able to be in the same location as other coworkers or managers. Some people find this difficult when they cannot reach out and physically touch the person they are trying to contact. Therefore, ensure that you always feel ‘in the loop’ and connected with your colleagues. Allow forms of communication that give instant responses, such as instant message or video phones, when they are needed. Inform every one of various ways they can communicate with each other for various needs, such as email, IM, SMS, and direct extension numbers. Check in with every one periodically to check on their progress and inform them of any changes or updates.

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Use the Correct Medium

Every form of communication has a certain way it can be shared and used. Every piece of information that needs to be sent has an appropriate channel it can use to ensure it is reached. The medium in which people communicate mostly depends on whether the information is considered formal or informal and what kind of response is needed. Informal methods of communication, instant message or a text message are great when a person needs quick and short answers rather than a long and drawn out response. Team members can quickly exchange questions and answers without much interruption to their work. However, formal methods, such as group meetings or phone calls, are better used when the person needs a longer or more in-depth answer. It also gives recipients a chance to ask questions or give their input. To choose the best medium, determine how urgent or necessary the message is, how quickly an answer is needed and what kind of response you are looking for.

Be Clear and to the Point

When team members are communicating across a distance, words or meaning can often be lost in long phrases or extended stories. Emails can rattle on and phone calls can begin to drone out when people are unable to speak face to face to keep the attention. So when speaking with other employees keep the topic short and clear and try to go right to the point. Don’t beat around the bush or try to have a long ‘introduction’ story. Your colleagues won’t have a chance to stop you when they get lost or ask you to repeat what you said when communicating over email or instant message, so think about what you want to say or get across. State the purpose of the communication and then follow up with questions to ensure comprehension.


  • Be clear about what you want/need
  • State your point from the beginning
  • Follow up to make sure the other person understands

Virtual Communication Can Be Impersonal

With the growing popularity of electronic communication, people are finding more ways to communicate without actually having to be in front of the person. Although this can be convenient in many cases, in others it can cause people to feel impersonal with one another. Emotions can be misread or ignored when communicating virtually, causing phrases to be taken the wrong way or tones to be assumed. With a lack of body language or visual cues, virtual communication can seem flat and lack personality, making it harder for employees to build trust among each other.

When possible, try to hold face to face. If the distance is small enough, try to arrange a group meeting periodically to keep employees sociable. If distance is too great, try to use some sort of video message service that allows people to see each other, such as Skype or Google chat. Virtual communications is a great tool for teleworkers and virtual teams, but never underestimate the power of talking face to face.

Practical Illustration

Zach was communicating with one of his teleworkers, Bob, about upcoming projects and assignments. When he gave the original assignments, he spoke with Bob in person to go over everything in detail. He continued to speak him by text message or email when they had questions for each other. He didn’t want to seem too impersonal when communicating with Bob, so he made sure to speak to Bob openly and up front with anything they had to talk. Bob expressed that he was feeling left out since he is so many miles away and worried he may not be able to keep up with everyone. He told Bob the key is to stay within the loop of the whole group, so they set up protocols and plans to talk regularly and socialize, such as video messages and conference calls.


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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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