Finally getting around to writing this last post related to communication being the biggest contributor to successful telecommuting.
This one has probably been the biggest winner and has served me very well for nearly a decade.
It’s also a remarkably simple idea: send a daily update to raise your visibility when working remote.
Every morning I send an email regarding the previous day’s accomplishments. It’s generally very terse. For example
Subject: Accomplishments for To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Yesterday's accomplishments - reworked documentation - built module for self service - weekly status meeting - assisted with troubleshooting of web site Today's focus - prepare for presentation - follow up on web site issue from yesterday - interview candidate
I’ll admit that this doesn’t seem like a lot. However, I’ve found that it accomplishes two important things.
First, it raises awareness. That’s quite important when you are not working from the office. It provides a very quick beacon to others that you are indeed working. Additionally, it brings clarity on your day to day. As a boss once told me, “I really appreciate that I never have to wonder what you’re working on.”
This type of email will likely do the trick for anyone you’re accountable to. It could be a boss, a client, or a team.
The brevity of the email is intentional. First off, it makes it much easier to kick out in the morning. I doubt I would be as consistently successful if I was writing multiple detailed paragraphs. A long email also raises the burden of consumption for your audience. The key is to make it quick and easy for everyone.
Another benefit is that the shortness will likely leave some things quite vague. You might think that’s not a good thing. People shouldn’t be left with questions. In my experience the ease of digestion is more important, but it also allows for dialogue or an exchange. If there are genuine questions around one of the bullet points, your audience can always follow up. That in turn will further help to increase your visibility by having an exchange. Now I’m not suggesting you be intentionally vague, but you shouldn’t worry too much about trying to eliminate all possibilities for questions from the get go.
I’ve used this approach in various organizations and scenarios and it’s always been well received. Getting started should be pretty easy. Just let your boss/client/audience know that you’ll be sending that daily email to ensure you are moving in the right direction. I’ve never received a “no, thank you” to that.
Here’s to great communication and working uncaged!