6 Tips for Working "Virtually" with Remote Offices and Clients
With the increasingly flat world we live in, many people (especially those of us who work in the outsourcing industry) work with clients, teams or managers who are based in different offices and often different continents. This brings a whole different set of challenges to working in close proximity to your team with your boss sitting in the next room.
The biggest disadvantage of not communicating face-to-face is that you lose out on the non-verbal cues in a conversation. The same statement, without the context of tone or body language can be interpreted as an earnest suggestion or sarcasm, an honest apology or a defensive excuse.
Here are a few suggestions I have for how those of us in such a situation can communicate and work effectively. These are by no means exhaustive, and I'd love to know what you would add to the list.
Pay attention to language.
Given the absence of non-verbal use, the words you use are even more important. If the language you are communicating in isn't your native language (let's take English for someone in India or the Philippines), it's important to understand the nuances of the language, to catch the meaning of the words as expressed in context. If you aren't comfortable communicating in English, that's the first thing to work on. Take language classes, read extensively (especially news and popular literature of the relevant country--for me, of course, that's the U.S.), use a dictionary and ask someone to mentor you. If your work requires extensive written communication (by email or chat), business communication skills aren't just nice-to-have, they are important for survival.