As a remote worker, one of the key elements to focus on day in-and-out is your communication. Communication is the main link between you and the rest of your work environment. Email communication in particularly plays a big role for any remote worker. Your ‘presence at work’ will be simulated through your email communication. Learning how to handle your email communication effectively makes you a better, more productive remote worker. Effective email communication is vital to avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding. This is important when working remotely. Here are some tried and tested email best practices.
A cluttered inbox will clutter your day! You waste time finding that important email. You miss responding to a critical message. And spend time reading unnecessary emails. All these because your inbox is not organized? So an Organized Inbox is a must have for any remote worker (or for anyone actually).
Create a few folders as seen fit to your situation and sort all your incoming emails into these folders. Delete immediately any emails that are not required for your work. Use the flagging option available in your inbox to flag all important emails that you need to address. If possible tie up a date for these emails so that you know by when you need to address them by.
Always strive to reach inbox zero and complete your flagged items for that day. Trust me! These simple things will ensure that you never have to waste your time looking for missing emails or miss actioning any emails in the future.
Prompt Email Response
Use this simple rule always – If an incoming email can be responded to immediately, go ahead and do so. This definitely saves you time in the long run. You might need time to action an email. Reply back to the sender immediately saying so and if possible state a follow-up date as well. As noted earlier, emails are the remote workers’ link to the rest of their work environment. If you were in office, colleagues would just drop by your cubicle to ask you a question. When you work remotely, instead they would send you an email. If you were in office your response would be immediate. So replying promptly to any email, emphasizes your responsiveness as a remote worker.
Use the KISS approach
When it comes to email writing always Keep It Short and Simple. Emails should be short, clear and concise. Avoid writing many long paragraphs in your emails. List out the key points so that the receiver understand the context quickly and clearly. This helps to avoid misunderstanding and also to drive quick action from the receiver.
Drawing the line
As a remote worker emails would be your main form of daily communication. Yet there would be situations that simply cannot be handled through an email. Identify and accept these instances. And use the appropriate alternatives (phone call or video conference) to communicate as needed. Knowing when not to use emails is also an element of effective communication.
Sometimes emails can also pose a major distraction to getting your work done. Say you need to work on creating a report. And your inbox keep beeping every few minutes with new incoming emails! As our natural instinct is to view the emails as they come, this results in continuous peeks in and out of the inbox. So we will end up wasting time and also taking more time to get the report done. To avoid situations like this, close down your inbox for a couple of hours and attend to your important task at hand. So sometimes bulk processing your emails every couple of hours gives you more productivity. It helps to find a good balance between your email communications and the other work.
Small things that make a big impact…..
The above facts establish good processes around effective email best practices. Yet there are also some minor checks that one can perform to ensure good email etiquettes.
- Add a specific and concise ‘Subject’ to the email. This will grab your audience’s attention promptly.
- Check if the right attachments are in place. Avoid using emails to send large attachments. Instead please use an alternative file sharing service. Clogging someone else’s inbox is so not professional!
- Be mindful when using ‘Reply’ vs ‘Reply All’. This can cause a lot of embarrassments if not carefully used 🙂
- Add the correct recipients to the email. There are hundreds of contacts in your mailbox and many with the same/similar name. The chances of using an incorrect recipient are quite high these days. Thus always double check the ‘to’ field before hitting the send.
- Make use of the auto-responder feature in your mailbox when you are off work. This is a simple, yet quite powerful tool which helps enhance your email communications. Make sure you turn this on when going off work and also turn it off once you are back.
My advice to any remote worker is to try and make use of these proven email best practices. These will help you to thrive in your day-to-day email communications. The fact is effective email communication, makes remote working a do-able reality.