Remote Worker English: Useful Expressions and Clever Tips
More professionals are now working online. Many companies also have started embracing remote working set up for their employees. Also, some entrepreneurs are building a fully remote setup and have been hiring individuals from different parts of the world, hence the increase of online jobs. For a remote company to succeed, maintaining effective communication is significant. However, communicating can sometimes be challenging when working online. Since delivering your messages rely heavily on using your gadgets, the exact body language might be difficult to read. To avoid misunderstanding, it is imperative to be careful with your choice of words when conveying your message. This article will provide you a list of expressions that you can use to convey the common experiences you face as a remote worker.
You may notice that most of the expressions you use in face-to-face meetings can also be utilized when communicating with your remote team. However, you may observe that there are some slight differences due to technical words specifically used online. Moreover, communicating with your distributed team is less formal and maintains a friendlier tone. Although you manage to sound professional, you also wanted to keep a fun and amicable tone to avoid misinterpreting.
“Let’s Zoom at (time) on (day)”
Zoom is a video communication app where people can have conference meetings. It is often used by teams working online to meet up with their teleworkers. When you wanted to talk with a person in the office, you will normally say “let’s talk” or “let’s have a meeting,” but if you are working online and invite others for a meeting, you mention the name of the app you would use to talk. Since there are also other communication apps available such as Skype, Google Meet, Viber, and Kakaotalk, the app’s name is identified. Moreover, using the specific term when inviting your remote team to meet up sounds more casual.
Also, notice that the time and day are mentioned. Since you are on a distributed team, your teammates might be working in different timezones. Therefore, it is best to tell them the time and date instead of just saying the generalized expression “let’s meet later.” By mentioning the time, your colleagues can arrange their schedule to be available during your specified meeting time.
“My connection is acting up.”
One of the issues that remote workers may face is unstable connection. It hassles you because it prevents you from being productive and attending your meetings. Informing your team members and immediate supervisor promptly is expected from you when you encounter this situation. Use this useful expression to inform your colleagues about your connection status. This will allow them to understand why you are not logged in, can’t respond to messages, missed a meeting, or have audio or video quality issues during your teleconference.
“Are you on mute?”
At the start of a video call, you typically expect that you will instantly hear the other person on the line. However, this may not happen in some instances due to audio problems. Either it’s because of your audio settings, or your headset is not plugged properly. Also, it could be because your colleague’s audio is on mute. So when you start to see your teammate talking on the video call but can’t hear him well, ask, “Are you on mute?” This will make your colleague aware that you are having trouble hearing him. Moreover, this expression is good to use because it hints to the other person the possible cause of the audio problem.
“Has (name) joined the meeting yet?”
If the online meeting should include several people, and you are still expecting some key people to join, it is natural for you to look for them. To confirm if a particular person has already joined the meeting, you can ask the above question. When you are just talking with one, two, or three individuals, it is easy to track who has joined or hasn’t yet. However, if there are more attendees, it is harder for you to notice all the individuals who came in, especially if you are busy presenting.
This useful expression definitely does not mean you are frozen ice. During meetings, you may encounter instances where you started with a smooth video call, but at some point, the person you are speaking with is no longer moving. In such cases, you can say, “you’re frozen.” It means that your video quality is suffering from the lag of freezing due to a poor connection.
“You’ll get the hang of it.”
You have to expect when you work online that you may be given a new task or be required to use a new platform or software. This means you have to familiarize yourself with the change. Companies make some changes in their processes to improve or keep up with the latest trends or demands. Since you are working in a remote setting, you have to figure out how to cope with the change. Although assistance may be given to you from time to time, you still have to learn and practice it until you can do it with ease. When your colleagues or immediate supervisor know that you have to stretch a bit to adapt to the changes, you may hear them say, “you’ll get the hang of it.” This is like one way of encouraging and telling you that you can get better with it soon.
“Can I pick your brains about something?”
No matter how good you are at doing your job, you may still encounter some challenges and roadblocks. Since you are working remotely, you typically try to figure it out on your own. If you still haven’t succeeded after several attempts to fix it, then it’s best to seek some advice. When a colleague has shared with you a good strategy or a brilliant idea on how to overcome the challenge you are faced with, you can tell the person, “can I pick your brains on this?” This shows to the person that you appreciate his suggestion, and you commend his knowledge or skill. Also, you can use this if you want to ask for help to learn more about something.
“Share with us your small wins this week.”
Small wins help to achieve big goals. Since you are working on a distributed team, it is important to update your colleagues about progress. This is to ensure that everything can be monitored well and track if objectives are being met to achieve the goal. This means talking about the tasks that you were able to complete or have commendably performed. To ensure that everybody is effective, efficient, and productive, teams would like to talk about small wins. If you wanted to know what your colleagues have successfully worked on recently, you could ask them to share it with you by using this question.
“Let’s ramp up our efforts to achieve (goal)”
To ramp up means to increase something. If you want your team to meet a specific objective, you encourage them to work harder. A more casual way of saying work hard is to “ramp up your efforts.” You can say this if you want to meet a certain deadline or quota. Also, you may use this to encourage your team to double up their efforts to achieve your department’s goals to enjoy incentives and rewards.
“I still have a backlog of work to do”
=Backlog means work that still needs to be completed. Although you are working on a remote setup, it doesn’t mean that you work less. Actually, there are instances, where you’ll be assigned to do different tasks and even have a backlog. However, the challenge is that even when you are not procrastinating, there will be times where you will still have pending work because the task or the project you handle is tedious and time-consuming. Due to the company’s daily operations, new tasks may be assigned to you on top of your previous assignments. If you can’t accept additional tasks for a while, you have to communicate them to your immediate supervisor or colleagues. Since they cannot see what you are working on, telling them that your work is still piled up will make them realize that you are not just making excuses as to why you can’t accept the new task.
“It has an easy learning curve.”
Learning curve means the period it takes for you to learn a specific system or activity. When a new task is given to you, or you have to use a new system, your boss may describe the learning curve to know what to expect. By knowing the learning curve, you will be able to identify if you are progressing fast, slow, or just enough. To describe the learning curve, you can use the word “steep” if the activity or system requires a longer time to learn. Meanwhile, use the word “easy” or “shallow” if it is only a quick learning process.
“Just minor feedback today.”
Giving feedback is important, especially if you are working remotely. This helps to maintain transparency and healthy communication. Moreover, you get to identify your strengths and the things that you still need to improve on. If you are going to share your observation, you can introduce it by describing the feedback that you are going to give. Phrasing your message with “just minor feedback today” makes it sound softer. Although you will point out some flaws in the person’s work or performance, he won’t feel the negative blow that much as you were able to soften your message.
“If you have any queries, you can always ping me.”
While ping is typically translated as a sharp sound, it also means sending an electronic message to someone. We typically say this to individuals who are not close to yet or do not get to talk often. To let others know that you welcome their questions, you can say that they can “ping you.” Also, you can use this expression when you are communicating with your networks online to represent your company. You say this to establish rapport with them and build a good community online.
“Sorry, I need to step out in (number) minutes.”
Since you are working on a distributed team and your colleagues may be working in different time zones, you may not all work simultaneously. In some circumstances, you may experience talking with your teammates just before you clock out. To courteously excuse yourself in this kind of situation, notify them that you are about to leave in a moment. Specify how much time you still have to talk to them. This will make them aware of your schedule, and you won’t be surprised when you have to end the call.
With the changes in technology over the past decade, common expressions have evolved. Also, more words have been added, and alternative meanings have been assigned to some words. While others have remained the same and can still be used today. The provided expressions above are useful since they can be used not only for telecommuting but also for office-based working if you tweak them a bit. As remote working and teleconferencing have become the norm these days, it is good to update yourself about the expressions and terms used when communicating online. This will help improve your English language fluency and keep you competitive in the job market.