5 Lessons I Learned My First Year Working Remotely

November 10, 2016

_aus_samantha.jpgSamantha Smith was thrilled when she learned that she would be working from a home office in Australia for a U.S.-based global immigration company.

Pro-Link GLOBAL was the first firm of its kind to combine traditional bricks-and-mortar locations with remote or virtual employees. This hybrid business model continues to allow the company to attract and, perhaps most importantly, retain top talent across the globe.

Samantha joined the organization as a Global Immigration Consultant in January 2016 and shares the top five lessons she has learned from working remotely.

  1. Nothing beats the power of a phone call

Working alone can be isolating experience. When you spend all your time dealing with situations virtually, soon the situations themselves become virtual. When your interactions with others are primarily through a computer screen, it becomes very easy to deal simply with emails instead of the people behind them. We are not the only ones guilty of this – often clients and assignees are victims of the pitfalls of this way of working as well. By picking up the phone and just talking to the person you are assisting, you can change the tenor of your relationships. You humanize yourself and your correspondent and forge human connections. This serves the dual purpose of lessening isolation and strengthening relationships.

  1. Tone is key

When you are communicating primarily by email, misunderstandings are inevitable. Generally, these misunderstandings are easily resolved and inconsequential, but sometimes they arise when your intention is misinterpreted from your “tone.” By keeping your tone light and open to respectful dialogue, you can avoid this misinterpretation, and keep it clear that, regardless of the nature of the misunderstanding, you meant no disrespect.

  1. KISS (keep it simple, stupid)

Not everyone is an expert in Global Immigration, and HR representatives and assignees alike may be dealing with multiple parties in relation to the employee’s upcoming move. If you give too much detail or high level information you run the risk that your important points will be lost. Keeping your emails in a simple, easy to read format, and refraining from showing off your knowledge with a long explanation of policy, is a great way to make sure your points are properly absorbed and actioned.

  1. Time is relative

It’s a real learning experience working with other cultures who attribute different values to “soon,” “urgently,” and “no rush.” Clearly defining dates for action and communicating your expectations in terms of follow up is a great way to  establish the urgency of any given situation. If you’re precise about your needs, the whole team begins a task with the same understanding of the necessary timeline.

  1. Only you know what you’re thinking, if you don’t communicate

It’s all too easy to work in a bubble of understanding that excludes stakeholders. You know what you’re doing and why: no one else does. Learning to communicate your thoughts and understandings is key to managing expectations and forging common goals.


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