When working with colleagues from a remote setting, a text or email can be suitable for quick chats, such as setting up a meeting. But for more serious discussions, a phone or video call is probably better.
Video calls can get tedious, so they should be used sparingly and primarily when there is a clear purpose for the video, says Dr. Simon-Thomas. It could be a meeting with visual aids in a presentation. Or introduced to a colleague for the first time, seeing a happy face.
Dr. Simon-Thomas adds, whether at the office or at home, if you’re going to write a letter to your colleague, be careful. Avoid short notes and add nuance and context to your messages. Whenever possible, show curiosity when discussing solutions to problems to avoid becoming a harsh critic.
“We don’t have the intonation, facial expressions and postural cues we rely on,” she says. “The most mundane feedback possible means a universe of things to a person who receives it.”
Regardless of our rank in an organization, our time is precious. According to one study, when our work is interrupted by digital distractions like texting, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the original task. Tiffany Shlain, a documentary filmmaker who wrote the book “June 24” wrote “June 24” for a book about how important it is to unplug from technology.
There are powerful tools, such as email scheduling and status messages, that you can use to let others know you’re busy and to set boundaries.
Let’s say that you do a job from 9 to 5 pm and at 7 pm you have an idea you want to share with your colleagues, so you write it down in an email. If you shoot out of email, two things will happen. One, you’ve removed your own boundaries by letting others know that you work during dinner time. Two, you have the ability to interrupt co-workers during their downtime.