Communication is key
Most job postings say they’re looking for someone with “Excellent written and oral communication skills”. It’s like there is a job listing template that has this and everyone says, “yup, need that”. But the truth is, this is essential as a remote worker or telecommuter.
When you don’t work in a traditional office, you are neither seen nor heard (mostly). Your work, and how you communicate about your work, is what establishes and maintains your worth and reputation. It’s a lot harder to simply be the loud voice in a conference room during a team meeting when you’re not physically there. In fact, you may get only one shot to express your opinion and ideas, so you need to make it count. Plan ahead if you can, and craft your message to be clear and concise, without the need for your audience to key off of non-verbal cues. Even in a video conference, you should focus mostly on your words. They will be what counts.
Email Communication for the Teleworker
As for email communication, less is more. Kristin Yerecic suggests in a blog post on the OU ImPRessions blog that you should batch your submissions and requests to your manager into as few emails as possible. I really like this advice because it reduces the amount of clutter your boss sees from you. Since you can’t personally drop the work off on her desk, you need to make sure that your work (and you) are seen and heard. A few well written emails in a week should do the trick. If you’re emailing your boss 10 times a day, what you have to say will not be received well, and your manager will put less importance on everything you say.
Pick up the phone
Finally, don’t rely on written communication for anything that can be nuanced or easily misinterpreted. Pick up the phone and make a quick call. You can (and should) follow the call up with a confirming email, but when it is important enough that you need to make sure the other party understands, voice to voice is always the way to go.