Good communication is key when it comes to working effectively and happily. So how can you make sure that you keep it up when working remotely?
As many of us continue to work from home, whatever our situation, it’s possible to experience feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, doubt, guilt or worry. This rollercoaster of emotions, especially while there is still such limited contact with work colleagues or friends, can all threaten the balance and wellbeing of our positive mental health.
Here we look at how effective communication with your boss can contribute to the success of your new normal, and help ease the uncertainties and doubts that create your own unique experience of home working. I’ve shared my top tips on how you can effectively communicate to ensure you feel as happy, comfortable, and as certain as possible going forward.
Understand your bosses’ needs
They are also likely to be working from home and may have similar demands or frustrations to you. Ask them how they want to be updated. What would work for them? Do they prefer email, a telephone call, weekly reports, or group calls? How regularly do they want to be updated? While openly considering their current needs, you also create certainty for yourself. You know exactly what you need to do in order to fulfil management expectations.
Get clear on what you should be working on
Make sure your objectives are clear and that you are certain of all deadlines and priorities. If you are not sure, ask for detail and get clarity around the specifics of what you need to do. This will eliminate a high percentage of the common working-from-home anxieties.
Take responsibility for your needs and communicate them openly
Outline your general daily obligations with your boss and let them know of any scheduled breaks or any ‘off-line’ time you may need. Explain any flexibility you can offer as you ask for what you want and always check that what you are proposing would work for them too. Taking responsibility for your own needs and communicating to reach an agreeable solution will erase the natural tendency to carry guilt or self-doubt when you need a break to home-school your children or attend to family obligations.
Trust on both sides is important when working from home
Take personal responsibility for communicating with and updating your boss. If they are not clear on where you are with things, they may conclude that working from home is not working for you. If they are not contactable to talk to, email your updates and let them know you are free to discuss things further when they have time. Bullet point your update points and keep your explanations succinct and clear. Clearly state your next steps, proposed action points, or planned objectives so they get a clear sense and picture of how things continue to progress forward.
Ask for regular feedback
Giving and receiving feedback is important to everyone’s sense of achievement, motivation, and security. Ask for feedback to ensure any internal feelings of uncertainty, or self-doubt about whether you are doing enough, are kept as low as possible. Proactively seeking reasonably phased feedback will also display a high level of conscientiousness and care about your work.
Not sure how to express yourself remotely?
Use these powerful, inclusive and cohesive phrases in your conversations:
To your boss – “It is important to me that you are happy with how I am working from home, is there anything specific you need from me to help make this all run successfully?”
After expressing a reasonable request to anyone – ”If I did this, would that work for you?”
To anyone you are working collaboratively with – ”What do you need me to prioritise so that we can achieve this?”
To manage others’ expectations – “As far as I understand it, my current priorities are...”
Always remember, open and honest communication is key to any new situation being successful for all parties. Taking ownership and personal responsibility for your own feelings and pro-actively communicating to provide certainty, reassurance, and peace of mind for everyone involved is both empowering and effective.