As we approach ‘I don’t know which week we are on’ of the circuit breaker in Singapore, it looks like telecommuting is here to stay. So, it means more of the ‘Ums, Huhs and Sorry I could not hear you’ monologues we have with ourselves as we stare into a screen of different faces.
We miss discussing the many ideas and plans that we must set in place at cafes and in a meeting, room filled with people. While the human presence in our lives is much valued, the proximity that we so crave has become the very thing we have to avoid. Transporting us into a different dimension; one where we must find out how to ideate, create, design, and execute strategies without face to face interactions.
For many, this is a novel experience with many funny scenarios unfolding, but as time goes by, we will get better at it.
Meanwhile, here are some ways we thought helped our online work experience.
Keep it Actionable and Achievable
Remember the good old days, when people wasted time sitting in a meeting room discussing a plan for over an hour, only to execute it at the last minute? The agenda lost in translation with the many voices and minds in the meeting room influenced efficiency. There is no time for egos and office politics during an online meeting because you cannot avoid the person you see. So if they ask you a question, you have to answer! Aside to the lack of a physical presence, online meetings are, in fact, more intimate. You cannot hide behind a colleague or sit right at the back to avoid being called upon. The reality is right in your face during a remote meeting.
Just like any f2f meeting, it is essential to have an agenda during a remote session. This ensures that everyone goes in with the right outlook and expectations. When crafting the plan, instead of pointers, think about writing them as results. Thus, for instance, instead of writing ‘3 Articles a Month’, you write ‘Facebook analysis of 3 articles a Month’. This way, during the meeting, you are discussing the necessary actions to achieve the results you want to see.
Ensure that everyone in the meeting receives the agenda early on. This way, they can plan their questions and pointers ahead of time, making the best use of their time online.
Keep it Casual and Professional
When we work from home, we do not necessarily dress for work, we wear what is comfortable and get down to business. However, during an online meeting, what is comfortable is not necessarily professional. Wearing your PJs with Einstein’s hair screams ‘not making an effort’. Irrespective of where you are working, it is still a work meeting.
Mutual respect is the cornerstone of any working relationship, do you want to see your colleague in his or her home wear? You want your colleagues to respect your thoughts and ideas, which is a little hard to do if you look like you rolled out of bed.
So, set the tone of the meeting by wearing something work-appropriate. You do not have to wear a full suit. Business casual is great – throw on a nice blouse or shirt and tame the hair. Or follow newscasters and keep the top professional and the bottom casual! Unless of course, you are in full view!
I.S.S (Keep it Short and Simple)
In recent weeks, many people have shared that they do understand the benefits of working remotely. Well, so do we, travelling time between meetings, exchanging niceties for 30 minutes before plunging into the actual meeting and scrambling to cast into action all that was talked about during the meeting was time-consuming. Hence, online meetings have demonstrated to be efficient and productive because they are a better use of our time. All the same, without a physical presence, it is difficult to hold someone’s attention. They may lose interest in what you have to say very quickly.
So, keep the meetings short and straightforward. Online meetings are not an opportunity to catch up on office gossip or weekend activities. Prepare the list and share what you need within 30 to 60 minutes. Anything longer will have people tuning out and doing other things while they pretend to listen to you.
Keep it Going with a Post-Work Email
Your online meeting is over, but do not turn off the laptop just yet! It is essential to send out a brief post-meeting. Ideally, do this immediately afterwards so that you do not forget the details; this will help manage expectations, goals and tasks that discussed. It will also provide team members to put forward doubts they have after they read and digest the email.
Keep to Communication Etiquette
Unlike in real life, reel life can be a challenge when it comes to communication. Online communication makes it difficult to observe non-verbal clues that would typically influence our reactions and actions to somebody. Add background sounds, static feedback, connectivity issues and people talking at different times, and it can derail the engagement and authenticity of your meeting.
Therefore, it is best is to observe the rules of engagement, even during remote meetings. Begin by greeting each other; it does not mean that while communicating online courtesy can drown in the abysm of the internet – remember K.I.S.S.
Determine ahead of time if you are going to have the video setting on. Yes or no, let everyone know in advance. It is a shock when you log on to to see that some of you are on a video call and others are not. Isn’t the point of doing an online meeting to see each other?
To avoid too many talking heads, have smaller team meetings. Unless necessary, a maximum of five people per call works nicely. Any more tends to isolate some while others dominate the conversation.
Politely ask of your team members to turn off any background music if they have it on, during the call, ask them not to experiment with the video backdrops and most importantly, be understanding towards team members who may be at home with the young or elderly.
Keep It about the Team
Working from home can get lonely, so it does not have to be all work and no fun. It is still important to engage with your team members on a personal level and foster team spirit.
Organise a Happy Hour session once a week, grab a beverage of your choice armed with a snack and simply chat or play games like charades, taboo etc.
Trying times call for innovative ways to of working and living, authentic and engaging communication can still take place if we each play our part.
How are you working from home during this circuit breaker? Share your thoughts with us over a virtual coffee! Contact us at (+65) 8100-7064 or (+65) 9488-2725 OR write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About WriteHaus Asia
WriteHaus Asia is a Singapore based branding and content agency. Founded in 2016, we believe in accelerating brands through content, video/photography, digital media, and branding.