In my transition to working from home due to COVID-19, something that's been heavy on my mind is how finicky online communication can be. It's so easy for well-intentioned messages to be read with the wrong inflection, for action items sent via an email thread to fail to make it to the slack channel, or for coworkers to, well, forget about each other's existence.
It's maybe more important now than ever to flex our emotional intelligence. Not only to keep our teams tied together or to keep our career progress moving forward, but to be an empathetic human being who comes out of all this with professional relationships that are just as strong as they were before. So, what does an emotionally intelligent person spend their time saying over Slack or email? These are the five conversations people with a high E.Q. have with their colleagues every day when they're remote.
Water cooler talk doesn't get less important simply because you're remote. Having casual conversations with your coworkers doesn't just boost morale — it also builds rapport and can be a great creativity boost. Setting times to small talk when you login and say 'good morning' or when you log off and say 'good night' also adds some much needed structure to your work-from-home day. Setting a clear log on and log off time sets boundaries in your own mind, while also clearly communicating to your coworkers when you're available.
Without walking by your boss' office everyday or talking stream-of-consciousness with them over lunch, it can be hard to tell where their mind is on a day-to-day basis regarding your team's priorities and goals. Make time to reach out and discuss how you are prioritizing your goals and how you're working towards them. Not only will you receive clarity on whether you both are working in the same direction, you'll also reassert your value, even from afar.
Checking in with your close team members everyday is a great way to build rapport and keep connections strong while you're working remote. The only thing that's better than sharing a meme or a thought on your video conference is sharing your time and insights with them. Ask if there are any ways you can help with their workload, especially during such a challenging time when people may be tackling personal barriers you have no idea about.
You know the after-meeting shuffle: the few minutes when everyone is leaving the room and following up with each other on how they're going to tackle what was just discussed? That's gone when you're working remote. Instead, remote workers with a high EQ take this conversation online and follow up with the members of the meeting with how they're tackling their action items and ask any questions they have — or that are lingering in the group. Taking the lead on this type of initiative, again, asserts your value from afar and sets you up for success on carrying out your project successfully without bothering anyone with a million emails a week later.
The workplace isn't most people's ideal space to talk about personal problems or emotions. But during these times, reaching out and asking how people are holding up can make a huge difference. Whether you ask someone how their day is going or how they're holding up, reminding them that there are humans on the other side of the screen is more important now than ever.