With the growing freelancing trend, you pondered and tried your luck. You have established that remote work is for you. You landed your “dream” job. Now, you are location-independent and relatively free.
Is it all butterflies and rainbows from here on out? Not exactly. With this new setup, you will find that the workplace has new dynamics. Now, your coworkers are just headshots from your Skype app. How do you engage socially?
For instance, what if you suddenly have a conflict with one of your remote coworkers? How do you even solve this disagreement?
Online Communication Does Not Exactly “Read” What You Mean
When messaging online, sometimes that statement you typed might be read differently.
Unlike speaking face to face, most of the time, you notice their tone and their body language instantly. It is relatively easier to distinguish a sarcastic joke from an offensive statement right away.
But in the virtual workplace, this may not be the case. So what do you do?
Talk Over in Person or Video Chat
Proper communication is key to resolving conflict across the board. The first step is to set a personal meeting with your colleague.
Tell your workmate that you want to meet and talk because you might have some misunderstanding. Try to tell this nicely.
Or you can ask indirectly for the purpose of feedback. Like “Hi *name*! I’m challenged on this new remote working setup. I just want to ask for tips and feedback. Can we meet/talk over video chat about it?
There will be two outcomes with this invite: you will know that s/he is really angry, or you might have just misunderstood and they’re totally fine. Hopefully, s/he will be open to discuss the problems that have been bothering him/her as well.
Regardless, meet face-to-face. If it’s not possible, set a VIDEO Chat. With this, both parties can catch on the non-verbal cues when talking.
Do Not be Accusatory
Firstly, before you meet, try to understand your colleague. Before jumping to conclusions, think of his/her situation. Is it just a cultural thing? Is it because of a situation in his/her physical workplace? Just give him/her the benefit of the doubt.
When speaking, do not be accusatory. Don’t tell them harshly what you mean.Please No: “It was all your fault why we didn’t meet that deadline”. Rephrase and focus on how the action affected you. Also, listen to the side of their story.
Hopefully, after this meeting, you will have a newfound friendship. After all, reconciliation after a large fight can make bonds stronger.
Worst Case: Bring Someone Else if Necessary
If the rift is really deep, try to bring someone else, maybe a superior or a common friend. With their help, the conflict between the two of you might be resolved.
Or at the very least, you can find a common ground to still work together professionally.
These steps might not 100% heal your relationship. But at the least, you gave your best effort.
I hope you have a harmonious remote working experience!