Effective Telecommuting

The one and only thing that matters in making telecommuting work well, is effective communication.

I have found the best way to do this is to rather than write up an idea as a ticket or spec doc to convey it to other members of your team, instead, communicate the idea conversationally – via IM, voice, email – and have the receiving party write up the formal documentation of that idea.

This ensures a number of things happen:

  1. You learn if they understood the idea (most likely they got the gist of it, the devil is in the details)
  2. You will learn what details you missed, either because the other person fills in the blanks or because they ask you
  3. They have a chance to think through the idea properly to spot any pitfalls
  4. Most communication ambiguities will be straightened out before you send it through to the rest of your team.

Often what will happen is the writer will pen something different – perhaps not substantially so – from what you intended, but, perhaps through that you will either spot something you missed or find a different solution to your problem.

Either way, through this process, between two people you can typically hammer out all the necessary details needed to effectively communicate an idea, it’s needs and requirements, and a proposed solution to your team.