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The CEOs have said it: keep cameras on during WFH video calls to retain a face-to-face feel. But there’s not always time for Zoom. So how do you keep up comms when you can’t see their facial expression?
Is “OK” too passive-aggressive? Emojis too cheesy? This is a remote -working type-tiquette guide.
Don’t be short
So be conscious: “Take a few seconds to say thank you before starting your email,” and spell things out even when busy. “This brief looks great, thank you” is clearer and warmer than a possibly sarcastic or frustrated “great”.
Out-of-office mode is no excuse to stop asking your deskmate about their weekend.
Tea breaks and gossip are essential to keep spirits high, says Julian Jost, chief executive of event company Spacebase. He urges his team to “over-communicate” on WhatsApp, Slack and Microsoft Meet while at home.
Ask colleagues how their evening was before you start the nitty-gritty, and keep up the work WhatsApp group: how everyone’s finding isolation, how are the kids and the dog? At the least, it’s an excuse to see pictures of your boss’s poodle.
Know your audience
Consider personalities, says Isaacs. “If you’ve got a colleague who loves to know the details of a project, they’re not going to change,” so spell things out.
Big-picture person? Send bullet points not detail. The one who loves gossip? Start up a separate Slack channel and ask how they’re coping with that awful flatmate.
If your boss prefers direct emails keep that up.
Sharing emojis is a thumbs-up. According to Adobe’s latest Emoji Trend Report, 61 per cent of us use them at work and last year 59 per cent of workers saw people as “warmer and friendlier” when they used them.
Emojis are important to use when chatting to colleagues on instant message apps (Bernard Hermant / Unsplash)
The most effective? Faces, says Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge.
A new paper in journal Behaviour & Information Technology found use of emoji faces “produces neural responses that are similar to those that are observed in face-to-face communication,” add a smiley if you want your “OK” to seem less passive-aggressive.
Just as you’d tell your boss you’re off for a lunchtime run, do the same at home. The biggest tip from Slack HQ staff? Custom statuses.
“We set a custom status to let everyone know that we’ve stepped away, or offline, or on calls and maybe slow to respond,” the site’s new Covid remote-working guide explains.
Statuses can be set to automatically expire, so “at lunch” doesn’t accidentally last all afternoon.
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