How To Have A Successful Working Relationship OnlineElance_Alex | Dec 08, 2009
One of the most crucial elements in creating or receiving the highest quality work is having a successful relationship with those you work, collaborate, and share with. As technology and communications continue to evolve, more and more people are moving to the online world to get the work they need done. However, many of the timeless tips that were once used offline still apply today, albeit slightly differently, when working online.
Before you hop back on your PC and get back to work, check out these six tips to have and maintain a successful working relationship online.
Build a Human Relationship: Considering that most people conducting work online spend a good chunk of their time behind a computer screen, it’s easy to forget that those on the other side of the network are human just like you. Be sure to spend some time building a more human relationship with those that you work, online or off. For example, when exchanging Workroom messages, it doesn’t hurt to add a friendly greeting or ask how the other is feeling for the day.
You’d be surprised at how much a simple “thank you” can affect attitudes as well as your business. According to a study conducted at The University of North Carolina Business School in 1999, people that “experience rude behavior on the job quit their jobs (12%), lose work time (52%), and deliberately decrease their work effort (22%).” (via Smashhits)
And this one goes for employers: Give your provider the trust and freedom they need to complete job tasks. The people that you work with are the experts in their respective fields and have the credentials to prove it – it’s the reason why you hired them in the first place. And remember, over-micromanagement is almost always counterproductive for both parties involved.
Set Up Office Hours: This is a big one. Just like any other brick and mortar business or office, both the provider and employer need to have a standard set of office hours that they can be consistently reached. Having this will not only help facilitate smoother communication on jobs in progress but will also allow you to rest a bit easier at night knowing that the other is just a phone call/chat/Workroom message away. Remember: You don't necessarily have to be working in the same time zone or same continent for that matter -- just be sure that there is a set time that both parties are aware of.
Speaking of communication, be sure to let those you work with know your preferred method of communication, whether it is Workroom messages, chat, Skype, webcam, email, or phone. Some might call me old fashioned, but I still love calling someone up on the phone and hearing someone’s voice regardless of if it’s business or personal, but the choice is yours.
Stay In The Loop: Setting up checkpoints, or Milestones as we like to call them, is a great way to establish a timeframe surrounding the work that will be completed. Think of it as a general map that will provide guidance and set up appropriate expectations for both employers and providers.
Also, make sure that those you work with are in the loop with what's going on in real time. Setting up succinct, consistently-placed communications or meetings to go over what was accomplished and what’s on tap for the following week is a no-brainer. On Elance, you can accomplish this by using our weekly Status Report or Timesheet tool. However you choose to get the point across is up to you, but the main takeaway is that the success rate of the job largely depends on both parties staying on the same page.
Additionally, a good way to make sure both of you are on the same page is by using documents like Non-Disclosure Agreements, Change Order Agreements, and Contracts. These documents will protect both parties in case there is any sort of dispute. For sample versions of these documents and more, visit our help portal here.
Know Your Tools: Take time to familiarize yourself with tools that are available for you to utilize online. On Elance, there’s a wide variety of tools that are integrated into our Workroom, like a 500 MB-per Workroom file server with version control, integrated real-time chat, and a message board that will continuously log all chats and messages that can be reviewed at any time. There are lot of key benefits to utilizing the Workroom’s robust feature set – learn more about it here.
If there are other tools that float your boat out there, like video chat, online collaboration suites, IM, or even standard email, spend some time researching what tools will help boost your productivity when working with others online.