Communication

What’s the best type of communication to use when you’re remote?

TL;DR – Talking with someone will help you have a richer communication, and help short-circuit potential lengthy back-and-forth conversations. Email and chat win the day because you can refer back to them, even months after the fact.


As with many answers, it can depend on the situation, who you’re communicating with and how. When we recently asked a similar question to #remotechat, video conferencing didn’t come out even close to on top, due to connectivity and quality. Video was also cited as less of an option due to culture issues: if most people in an organization aren’t using it, then other methods stand out. The clear winners were voice, email and chat.

Voice

Talking with someone on the phone works well for interactions that’ll require several rounds of clarification. Have you ever been in email conversations that went back and forth more times than the ball in a tennis match? That’s when it’s good to schedule a meeting or simply pick up the phone. A lot can happen when you’re interacting in real time. Plus, you have the added rapport-building benefit of being able to easily talk about other things. You can start off a call with some casual conversation, especially if you’re waiting for others, or close down the call the same way.

Email and Chat

Digital forms have the added benefit of persisting beyond the interaction. Email and chat (Skype for Business) were mentioned frequently due to the audibability of the forums. For example, you can file away most emails that you think might be important in the future, and find them easily when you want to. Depending on your environment, chat clients like Skype for Business will save their transcripts right into Outlook, or let you download a transcript when you’re done. Chat is also good when you’re just asking a quick question and you know the other person will be responsive. Email and chat are also ideal when you’re not able to be online at the same time as the other person.

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