The Ultimate Guide to Working Remotely: Part 2/5

Second post in The Ultimate Guide to Working Remotely: The Series.

Email communication done right.

Everyone should have world class email skills

Have clear and concise subject lines. Sending an email without a subject line makes it more difficult to asses the urgency of an email message and setting the right expectations before opening it.

Write short email messages. One or two paragraphs are enough most of the time, but one line emails that spark conversation about a topic that requires a decision later on are also a good idea.

Finish with a clear set of next actions. Don’t only state the problem, but also propose solutions.

Only CC people that have to be involved in discussing the topic. Don’t CC everyone and fill up their inbox with replies and long discussions. Try to inform people of the decisions and only involve in conversions people that are part of the decision making process.

Every day all members do Inbox Zero

If email is expected to be a reliable communication method among team members then all team members should make sure all email messages they receive are processed on a daily basis. Emptying the email inbox daily and including the next actions in the right place (a GTD system hopefully) is a process that can enhance the general reliability of the team communication.

On the other hand, email can be a source of constant distraction if used in a wrong way. For people that need to focus for longer periods of time (developers, designers, etc.) email notification systems with pop-ups and BlackBerries should be avoided. Reading emails twice a day (before and after the work schedule) is enough most of the time.

Team should agree via email on meeting agendas

Meetings are expensive. Getting team members to participate in team meeting that don’t have a clear desired outcome and a meeting agenda, previously agreed by the team, can make the meetings ever more expensive, sometimes to the point of wasteful.

To avoid getting in this situations, remote teams will gather topics discussed via email and include them for a brief discussion (to agree on something previously discussed, not to create lengthily discussions on topics that can be had on email in the first place) in the weekly review meeting.

The next post will be about ‘Skype and how to use it properly’. If you like this series please share the links with your friends using the ‘Share’ button inside the post page.