Because all of my work is done through telecommuting, I have developed a great routine that allows me to stay in touch with my clients and coworkers (especially the team at Search Engine Journal) on a regular basis so I continue to be an awesome freelancer. While it doesn’t feel exactly like I’m right there with them in an office, but it’s definitely the next best thing!
I have used UberConference and Skype in the past, but Google Hangouts is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It doesn’t have any bugs (like I’ve experienced with UberConference, which sometimes won’t let me enter conferences or the voice is delayed, which makes me sad because I loved UC!) and the extra features, like integration with Google Apps and the ability to add a mustache to myself at any time, makes it fun. I also like using screen share when I need to explain something to the person I’m talking to.
I used instant messaging every day, whether it is to talk to clients, coworkers, or just my friends about what is going on for the day. I like using instant messaging over using the phone because it allows me to have conversations with multiple people at once and to do other work while I am talking with someone. Some of my favorite instant messaging services are Brosix (which is a client of mine and allows me to use multiple IM services at once) and Google Hangouts, which is embedded in my email. I like using an external service like Brosix every once in a while because I can get to distracted if I keep my email tab open.
Another Google service– what can I say, I’m hooked! I really like Google Docs because I can access my files from everywhere: my phone, iPad, and computer, and everything is synced. I like using this for communicating with my clients and coworkers because we can collaborate on a document all of once and it is updated automatically. I like being able to view others’ comments about the document to the side and to track changes to see who added what.
Even if I didn’t have to talk to any clients, I’d still use Google Docs because I like being able to access the same newest version of a document or file, no matter which device I am using.
Of course, this is my most-used tool. I send and receive over 1,000 emails every month. It is much more efficient than phone calls because it usually takes less time to read and respond to emails than it does to call everyone I need to communicate with. I also like email because it’s another thing I can access from anywhere; this means I can read and respond to emails while I’m waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting on the couch, watching TV.
Just like with everything else, I try not to check my email after my “regular” working hours of about 9-3, but can be hard when it’s so easy to check. 🙂
Even though all of the above are my most-used ways for communicating with others as a telecommuter, I will admit that occasional meetings can be more productive than attempting to solve something through dozens of emails. I have a weekly call with the SEJ team and also with a few clients. Being able to talk on the phone for 15 minutes or so also helps create that personal connection that sometimes just doesn’t translate the same through email!
What are your favorite telecommuting communication tools? Let me know in the comments.
image via Shutterstock.