When you are working from home there is a good chance that email will become a bigger part of your communication diet. That is of course unless you are lucky enough to work for a company who has made the switch to a tool such as slack. At any rate, there are some great ways for you to succeed when working from home when you use email well. So here is the 3rd post on the 1 most important key to successful telecommuting.

Probably the biggest win you will have is when you treat email with respect. Start by assuming that the person who sent the email genuinely wants to engage with you. I have worked in an environment where managers routinely resorted to prefix the subject of an email with the words “please read”. This may sound funny, but all too often my colleagues would not respond, take action, or even read an email otherwise. Don’t be that person. Don’t be the one who is prompting your manager to send emails with that kind of subject. Let someone else be that guy.

email is great for showing engagement

With that out of the way let’s talk about engaging on email. There are plenty of emails that are just FYI or even noise. Those are not a great opportunity for engagement and you can just archive or delete them. Other emails will have content that gives you the opportunity to think and contribute. For example, when you receive an email about a recent problem, it gives you the opportunity to think about potential solutions. Take the time and respond thoughtfully. It’s remarkable how many of your coworkers will not take advantage of that opportunity. And when you are remote it is a great opportunity for you. It lets you make the point that you might be absent from the office, but not from the team.

Another great way to engage my email is to proactively reach out prior to a meeting. Many companies have periodic all-hands meetings where the CEO and other members of the senior management team will speak about the company. Taking some time ahead of the meeting to formulate some questions that go beyond your area of responsibility is another great way to engage. As an added bonus, you don’t have to speak up during a crowded meeting to try and be heard over speaker phone. It also gives the person answering the question some time to prepare the response, while you get to demonstrate your engagement other than just showing up for a meeting.

All this might sound a bit like just trying to look good. Not so. It’s about raising the bar on your visibility in a genuine and authentic way. Your engagement needs to be real. If this isn’t the case you are likely in the wrong job. Using email as I suggest is really intended to level the playing field with your non remote cohorts. While the folks in the office can jump in on a conversation, we remote workers have to take advantage of other means. Engaging via email is one of those ways.

Go ahead and give it a shot. It’s been working well for me.

Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

I love working from home.