Party mode!

How To Keep The Remote Workplace Harmonious

Don’t let remote work turn you into a remote jerk

April 04, 2020 | 3 min. read

Whether you like working in your PJs or not, we all know it’s difficult to get your message across when you can’t speak face-to-face. And it doesn’t take long until weeks of remote working takes its toll and turns minor misunderstandings into full-on clashes. Here are some ways to stay friendly with colleagues and avoid office conflicts entirely.

Understand the differences
Even the briefest face-to-face conversation has much higher levels of communication than an hour-long all-staff briefing on Zoom. Keep that in mind when someone might come across a bit harsh – it could be the technology talking.

Chances are that it would never have happened in real life, so be the understanding one in this case. Saves a lot of energy.

Always be clear
It’s really important to be clear in your communications, whether they’re on video, text or – hey, old school! – phone.

Don’t just assume that you’ve got your point across – you’re missing out on those little nonverbal cues, so make sure that you confirm understanding. It’s also a very good idea to share what you’ve discussed in an email or instant message afterwards.

Disagree early
Disagreements are part of any discussion, and it’s a really good idea to draw them out at an early stage. It’s one way of defusing any potential conflicts before they have a chance to fester.

And don’t wait until a major issue arises – get comfortable with disagreeing on minor things, as long as you have a valid point and are able to calmly get it across. If you get used to raising your concerns when you’re unsure, it will quickly become a normal part of the process.

Respect people’s view…
Remote working can feel very remote at times. Always remember that there are actual human beings with genuine feelings on the other side. Virtual working can instil negativity or passive-aggressive tendencies in people – yourself included. So make sure that your challenges are made in a non-aggressive and supportive way.

Use non-threatening phrases like ‘Will this cause issues?’, or ‘Let me know if we need to make any changes’. It will open up the floor for constructive discussion.

…and their time
Think twice about whether something really needs the whole team on a video call – maybe you could just put it on the team’s chat group or send a group email with the details.

But if a meeting needs to happen, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be ready and signed in on time. Make sure you’re prepared and all your tech is working properly. Nobody wants to have to sit in a video call, waiting in awkward silence.

Use (but don’t overuse) humour
Every team or workplace has a different dynamic, and injecting humour can break up the tension. Even if Silly Hat Tuesday isn’t your thing, joining in will elevate the spirits of team members who love that kind of thing.

And it can be a useful tool too. Automation business Zapier used a pomegranate emoji as a ‘safe word’ that meant ‘I have a bad feeling about this’. With everyone clued into the meaning, it became a humorous way to kickstart a serious discussion – and an effective one.

Learn as you go
None of us walked into our first job fully equipped with the tools to manage conflicts, but we learned. Dealing with online frustrations is new and different for most of us – but it’s in everyone’s best interests to discover how to do it. Stay open-minded, be curious about how other people are feeling and always be nice. It’s easier than you might think and will always get you the best results. Give it a try!

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