In this new age of working from home, sweatpants seem to be everyone’s favorite “new normal.” We joke about it, but in reality most of usare cheating our way through video conferences with dress shirts on top and pajama pants on the bottom.
Remote work brings with it a host of new opportunities, as well as some added flexibility that many are not used to having in an office.
It can be good to take a break from the rules we are used to abiding by. However, getting a little too comfortable at home can spill over into the quality of your work. Even when you are no longer under your company’s roof, you must still represent them well. Especially when communicating on behalf of your organization, there are a few items to keep in mind.
Know Your Audience
When communicating with borrowers, or even fellow employees, it’s important to know how they prefer to connect. This is crucial regardless if you’re working from home or in the office. Even the best emails will go unanswered if your borrower prefers a phone call.
Be sure that you understand the best channels of communication for each person you’re working with and move forward accordingly. Let them know that certain information and documents can only be shared in a specific manner. For example, the loan estimate is sent via email requiring acknowledgement and the intent to proceed, but you may want to send a text alerting them to check their email and take action.
Keep Emails Professional
While working remotely, you may find that you are sending more emails than ever before. So many things that would have been communicated across your desk are now shared through emails or instant messages.
While you may be used to speaking to someone one way in person, email is a completely different ball game. The words you say are transcribed. They can be shared, saved and read again. With this in mind, be sure to always consider how you approach others via email.
Whether communicating inside or outside your organization, make sure your tone is always professional. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Be sure any attachments are correct before sending and determine if they need to be encrypted. All these small details can make a big difference when it comes to keeping a high level of professionalism at home.
According to a recent article by Contact Monkey, 40% of people read emails from their smartphone first, so be sure you are keeping communications short and to the point, as recipients are often scanning. This is especially important for subject lines, as many recipients may only see the first few words before they decide if it’s worth reading.
Leave Effective Voicemails
In the same way, you may find you are making more phone calls than usual. While talking on the phone is simple, it is surprising how many people struggle with leaving a message. Voicemails are usually the part of the call you don’t think of until you hear the tone that signals the recording. If you, as the caller, are unprepared, the tendency is to quickly ramble on and on. Not only does no one want to listen to a long message, but a sloppy voicemail may discourage people from calling you back.
Before you call, think about what you would leave as a message, in case they don’t answer. This way, the dreaded voicemail “beep” doesn’t catch you off guard. Briefly mention the reason for your call, leave your name, company and number – twice – and the good times to receive a call back. This gives the recipient all the information needed to reply promptly. Be sure not to include any Non Public Information (NPI) or sensitive information that could be intercepted by someone else.
Connect Via Video
Video calls are arguably the method of communication that has gained the most traction while everyone works from home. We still have a desire to keep employees, borrowers and prospects connected, and video is a great way to achieve some of that face-to-face time so many of us are missing out on. However, video tends to be the channel where many people mess up.
Aside from being mindful of how you look on camera, there is a whole world of information on camera right behind you. Is it messy? Is anyone else sitting in the background or walking by? What objects are lying around? Is there any sensitive information that people outside your organization can see? There are so many things to consider in the background, so keep a watchful eye on what your camera angles reveal.
While there are so many things to be careful of when communicating these days, it is important to view it as a blessing rather than a curse. All of the technologies we use to communicate on a daily basis are allowing many organizations to stay up and running in a time that would have otherwise been devastating to their operations. While working from home, it’s okay to be comfortable, but, when communicating on behalf of these organizations, we have to keep it professional.