If you work remotely from home and have an employer with the administrative office in another location, you may find that your main form of communication is email. This can be a dream come true in that you can get a lot accomplished without the pitfalls of lengthy conversations, distractions and small talk. The following tips can help ensure a more effective and productive work from home email experience:
1. Be VERY specific and descriptive in your emails. Don’t assume that the recipient knows exactly what you’re referring to. Remember, emails can often be interpreted in different ways. It may seem obvious to you but the recipient may be on a different page. Also keep in mind that your co-workers are in a busy office environment with interruptions, meetings etc. They are probably juggling more than just your emails. For example, instead of saying “Please send Bob’s numbers” be more specific like “Please send Bob’s December 2012 Sales Numbers ”.
2. Respond promptly to all emails. In my experience, I’ve noticed something very interesting. The key professionals always respond promptly. Some people are selective in the emails they prioritize. They may ignore the office clerk, but respond immediately to the V.P. This can backfire on many fronts. You never know. The office clerk may need your response in order to get back to the V.P.! Personally, I value everyone’s time. It’s a good habit and besides, you reap what you sow. Never allow an email to go unanswered for more than 24 hours.
3. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. It’s so easy to fall into a comfort zone by relying solely on emails to communicate. Let’s face it, some issues are best resolved by picking up the phone and having an actual conversation. It can eliminate confusion, save time and give you an opportunity to actually get to know your co-workers. Emails should also never be used to resolve a conflict.
4. Never talk negatively about a co-worker via email. You never know where that email can end up. I know of a situation where a manager was complaining about a co-worker to one of her team members via email. They went back and forth several times. The team member forgot about the long email trail and forwarded the email to that very co-worker her boss complained about. Needless to say, this didn’t end pretty!
These tips should help you work your emails, so your emails can work for you!