How to Improve Communications When You Work Remotely

Working remotely comes with twists on the usual challenges of work due to distance. These new challenges call for new solutions. Whether you are a team member or a team leader, sometimes you just need another perspective. Our new feature, Ask Sophaya, provides professional advice for working professionals. Reach out with your questions, and we’ll provide you with proven techniques and tips that we’ve used ourselves or learned from our colleagues. 

Contact us today with your questions concerning remote work and being on or leading virtual teams.

“Dear Sophaya, How can I increase my visibility with my colleagues when I’m one of just a handful of remote workers in my company and everyone else works together in one location?”  Signed Jennifer, working with a software start-up

Hi Jennifer,

This is a tough one. When you are a one of a handful of “remoters” in any organization it can be a daunting task to get people’s attention, but it’s NOT impossible. First, we suggest you negotiate routine check-ins with key people like your boss, key associates and such. Once you get time with them, keep the meetings productive and on point so everyone feels the time with you is worthwhile. Organize the meeting agendas so you get what you need out of the interaction – take the lead because these meetings will be VERY important to you and you want to tailor the agenda to get what YOU need from them. The fact is, as a remote professional, it’s really important that you take the initiative and drive interactions. Obviously, you don’t want to be a pest, but it’s up to you to go the extra mile to make sure people think about you when you aren’t in the room.

Second, in these meetings, negotiate communication protocols with people – ask them the channels they prefer, the time of day that’s best for them, the best ways to stay in touch and what to do in an emergency situation when you really, really, really need their help. Once you know what people prefer, then adapt to their preferences. Yes, it’s extra work, but people really appreciate it. When you work remotely, if you become “channel literate” – this means ambidextrous and comfortable using with all channels – then it not only shows respect for others, but it makes it more likely they will answer you because these are the channels they monitor most!

Third, use video chat whenever possible for your routine status meetings with people. Video adds an additional layer of nuance and visual that means people can SEE your face. It helps make you more real to your colleagues and also allows you to see a person’s body language. If you haven’t used video much in the past, give it a try, especially with your boss. With practice, you’ll get comfortable and the visibility it offers is just too good to pass up!

Best of luck!


Photo by Dan on Unsplash