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BettyB

Greetings from long-time telecommuter in MN

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Hi everyone!

For those of you recently entering the world of telecommuting - welcome! 

I have been home-based for 20+ years in various forms and in my current position as a freelance Administrative Assistant for the past 5 years.  Our company provides accessibility services to the Deaf community, primarily in the academic arena.  As you can imagine, activity has slowed considerabily in recent days but I'm hopeful we will see a return to more normal levels in the near future.  I'm taking advantage of this lull to catch up on projects, both professional and personal.  

I am always grateful for this lifestyle and even more so in the current landscape of life.  

If there are any tips or encouragement I can offer, I'd be happy to do so.  No, I have never worked in my PJs!   🙂 

Stay well, stay safe, stay strong.

Cheers,

Betty

 

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Hello Betty, 

Thanks for putting yourself out there!

I am one of the office-based admins who  has recently been plunged into the world of telecommuting. Supporting my team virtually is far different from supporting them in-person. Some of my colleagues are now more responsive, and some seem to have disappeared to an undiscovered island. 

Do you have any advice for effective communication with long-distance colleagues, or on how to encourage greater responsiveness? I would appreciate any pointers. 

Thank you,
Tressa

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Hi Tressa!

Personally, I wouldn't mind being on an undiscovered island -  with electricity, indoor plumbing and a good internet connection, of course! 😃

Our team uses Slack for real-time communication and collaboration. We began using Slack well before the current environment, having switched from Skype. I love Slack! It is much more versatile with more features such as file upload, etc.  Channels are created for different topics, eliminating the need to wade through a long stream of irrelevant conversation. We do have a "water cooler" type of channel for sharing items unrelated to work. Slack has not replaced email, but our small team finds it to be very productive for working together in real time.

We also do a check-in fairly regularly via Slack just to see how everyone is doing during these uncertain times. While some folks may not feel comfortable sharing personal feelings and challenges, it is one way to reach out, take a moment and just say, "How are you doing, really?" Perhaps during these days taking that moment to interact on a personal level is even more important and can foster team cohesiveness just knowing others are experiencing the same feelings, challenges and, yes, joys both professionally and personally.

We have a team meeting via Google Hangouts or Zoom once a month. While we interact and collaborate with each other daily, we get together in real time for a video chat for regrouping as needed, addressing any ongoing challenges, celebrating positive moments, plotting a way forward and, in general, taking a "pulse check" on where we currently are with regards to the business.

Additionally, we have a periodic virtual happy hour where anything goes - except work! 🙂 

Another platform that has increased productivity and focus (and that I really love!) is Asana. I personally like it not only for goals and projects assigned to me and the ability to collaborate, but also for the capability of creating Asana tasks for myself that serve as reminders for recurring routine responsibilities. I have found it to be a tremendous help in prioritization, staying focused (which can be difficult in this environment) and, again, for collaboration.

I've lately been including something like, "On a personal note, I hope you and yours are safe and well." in business emails not only to people I have interacted with before, but to those I have not. I've received so many responses and lovely email conversations have started from that simple line, that reaching out to the "person" and not just the name or email address. 

We are not all in the same boat, but we are weathering the same storm. 

I hope this has given you some ideas, perhaps even for a simple "Haven't heard from you in a while. How are you doing?" check-in to some of the elusive members of your team. Perhaps they're doing just fine - fishing and soaking up some rays on that undiscovered island!

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay strong.

Betty

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On 4/24/2020 at 6:03 PM, BettyB said:

Hi Tressa!

Personally, I wouldn't mind being on an undiscovered island -  with electricity, indoor plumbing and a good internet connection, of course! 😃

Our team uses Slack for real-time communication and collaboration. We began using Slack well before the current environment, having switched from Skype. I love Slack! It is much more versatile with more features such as file upload, etc.  Channels are created for different topics, eliminating the need to wade through a long stream of irrelevant conversation. We do have a "water cooler" type of channel for sharing items unrelated to work. Slack has not replaced email, but our small team finds it to be very productive for working together in real time.

We also do a check-in fairly regularly via Slack just to see how everyone is doing during these uncertain times. While some folks may not feel comfortable sharing personal feelings and challenges, it is one way to reach out, take a moment and just say, "How are you doing, really?" Perhaps during these days taking that moment to interact on a personal level is even more important and can foster team cohesiveness just knowing others are experiencing the same feelings, challenges and, yes, joys both professionally and personally.

We have a team meeting via Google Hangouts or Zoom once a month. While we interact and collaborate with each other daily, we get together in real time for a video chat for regrouping as needed, addressing any ongoing challenges, celebrating positive moments, plotting a way forward and, in general, taking a "pulse check" on where we currently are with regards to the business.

Additionally, we have a periodic virtual happy hour where anything goes - except work! 🙂 

Another platform that has increased productivity and focus (and that I really love!) is Asana. I personally like it not only for goals and projects assigned to me and the ability to collaborate, but also for the capability of creating Asana tasks for myself that serve as reminders for recurring routine responsibilities. I have found it to be a tremendous help in prioritization, staying focused (which can be difficult in this environment) and, again, for collaboration.

I've lately been including something like, "On a personal note, I hope you and yours are safe and well." in business emails not only to people I have interacted with before, but to those I have not. I've received so many responses and lovely email conversations have started from that simple line, that reaching out to the "person" and not just the name or email address. 

We are not all in the same boat, but we are weathering the same storm. 

I hope this has given you some ideas, perhaps even for a simple "Haven't heard from you in a while. How are you doing?" check-in to some of the elusive members of your team. Perhaps they're doing just fine - fishing and soaking up some rays on that undiscovered island!

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay strong.

Betty

Thanks! There is quite a bit of gold in this, and I appreciate you taking the time to write it! 

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