The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of communication as a critical job skill for getting a remote job, if you are on the job search. Or, to improve your chances of keeping your remote job and hybrid working arrangement if you are gainfully employed.
A related articls of importance:
Before we delve into the heavy subject of abilities, job knowledge, career experience and remote job skills, let’s be clear about remote work. As the opportunities for working at home have increased substantially over the course of three years, the limited definition of working from home has expanded also to keep up with the times.
Use of information technology critical aspect of remote jobs
In 2021, terms to describe remote work involved: telework, virtual teaming and telecommuting. The European Industrial Relations Dictionary defines this umbrella as: “. . . a form of organizing and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the employers premises, is carried out away from those premises on a regular basis.”
The Australian hub of Indeed defines remote work as the execution of work projects on a daily basis without the need to report to an in-office setting each day.
Technological communication acumen a chief factor of remote jobs
Seyfarth and Shaw LLC, global providers of legal advice updated its definition of remote work in its “Remote work update in Latin America” report as providing service outside of the employer’s campus. It further clarifies that remote working arrangements can occur in instances where the remote job is predominantly carried out off the grounds of the employer’s campus and also in situations where it is not.
Here’s a post on a similar topic:
Seyfarth indicated in previous guidance in the absence of a majority of the remote job tasks being completed offsite, the criteria for remote job classification (telework , telecommuting, virtual teaming) will not be met.
Another key factor to the remote job classification, Seyfarth advised, was the observation that remote work was heavily subjected to technology for supporting interactions with colleagues, supervisors and clients.
And, this last sentence alone is contains the prime element necessary to be successful with teleworking, telecommuting, and working from home. After reading it quickly, if you blinked and missed it, like I did, here it is. Technological Communications.
Challenges of communicating digitally when working from home
Technological dispatches of information when working from home, in a nutshell, creates these challenges for the remote worker to:
- modify one’s traditional in person, face-to-face and in office interactions to virtual (McLarnon et al., 2019),
- select the appropriate digital tools at the right time, and conveyed on the best platform to give contextual clues to support the intended message,
- manage, coordinate and express job task performance and work project progress among and across colleagues and multi-functional working groups (Van Zoonen et al., 2021, Babapour Chafi et al., 2022).
Internal dialogues to resolve in the day of a remote worker
Having discussed these challenges related to technological transmission of communique, its clear that the resolution to these challenges may rest with the individual remote worker, digital nomad and online entrepreneur and business warrior him/her/themselves. As remote workers we must take upon ourselves (almost subconsciously) to independently figure out the answers to these questions:
- Is this message that I am hoping to convey best sent in a chat box, posted to a forum, sent by office email, or chat?
- Do I refrain from typing and sending colloquial terms of endearment (like “rock star, buddy”) by chat, email, SMS, or group forum that can be saved in transcript and used against me in the future?
- Do I post blocks of ‘out of office’ times on my office calendar to not be disturbed even though I am taking the time to work on a comprehensive work project requiring high levels of cognitive functioning?
- When do I post job task completion in the status bar when my other colleagues are still working on theirs as denoted by ‘still in progress’?
- Should I send copious, highly detailed, written questions of constructive critques to virtual team members when seeking clarifications on a project going array or to raise concerns about unrealistic expectations and goals?
So, with the added layer of the need to be proficient with technological tools used to converse and interact, employees working virtually must also demonstrate adeptness in selecting the right words, identifying the appropriate tools and platform from which to send, and determining whether (and if so when) or not to send a particular message electronically.
Negative impact on job performance when communication issues unresolved
Unfortunately, there may exist a few employers and their requisite managers and supervisors blind to these challenges related to the exchange of information. If the challenge isn’t identified as something that needs to be addressed, then there may be no need to search for best practices or establish guidelines and recommendations to direct positive actions of employees.
Why is it important to address these possible challenges related to technological communication for your remote workforce?
- remote workers may suppress rather than express negative and conflicting emotions related to interacting and communicating with colleagues (Glikson and Erez, 2013),
- telecommuters may inadvertently send transmission using technological tools and on platforms “where the intent and emotionality of their communication are at great risk of being misinterpreted” (Cheshin et al., 2011),
- tele-workers may lack a complete and accurate understanding of employer expectations related to digital exchanges of information.
Employer impacts for failure to address teleworker communication barriers
As these problems of transmission of information misfire and bubble to the surface, employers of virtual team members may in turn:
- fail to notice potential barriers to individual success or worker productivity as it relates to lack of resources to support healthy exchanges of information,
- misinterpret or improperly analyze the root cause of a virtual workers less than adequate job performance,
- make assumptions that the teleworker is slacking when they may be mentally overtaxed.