What approach for efficient remote communication with your family (part 1)

In this series of articles I will talk about efficient remote communication with my family. And to be more precise, I will focus on efficient communication for building relationship and for work on the go.

Moving from country to country and constantly changing work environment, I found my self with friends and family scattered in Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Holland and France. Moreover, in my work I need to communicate remotely with my colleagues. 

Therefore, I was always trying to find the best tool/approach for efficient remote communication. 

Somebody can say that today the problem is rather straightforward and the obvious solutions would be : 

1. Phone

2. Internet communicators (video calls, textes) 

And yes, using these tools is quite convenient. But to be efficient in my communication I had to find the right approach to use theses tools.

Build relationship with my family

Phone calls

At the beginning when I started to travel I’ve begun to call some of my family members on weekends. I was eventually spending a significant chunk of my weekend on the phone with each family member separately.

Below you will find some of the improvements that I’ve put in place with time.

  1. To maximize the number of calls with my family with zero additional time spend I identified all those moments when I’m already doing something that I need to do but I can also call at the same time. There is why I started to call my family members while going from work to home, while being at the sport gym, while ironing my shirts or doing the laundry. Therefor I went from couple of calls on weekends to >10 calls per week and majority between Monday and Friday (of corse with little additional time spend).
  2. To minimize the cost of these conversations I will always use some kind of internet communicator mobile phone application with a call option (ex. Facebook messenger calls, Skype calls or FaceTime). My favorite mobile application is Facebook calls because whenever there is a connection problem you can hear a special sound. That is why you can avoid the situation when you talk for a long period of time only to understand afterwards that the other person didn’t hear you because of the poor connection. Finally, I’ve installed mobile version of Facebook Messenger to all family members who didn’t use it. And I explained how does it work. 
  3. To maximize the quality of these conversations 
    1. I started to privilege the places with the best mobile phone 4G or 3G connection. For example, for  the calls while going home from work I will avoid underground metro lines with Edge internet connection. I will take a bus or select metro lines with the best internet connection. 
    2. I’m always calling with earphones so that I don’t need to hold my phone to my head and I can use my hands for other tasks. 
    3. I’m always calling with wireless earphones so that the wire doesn’t limit my moves 
    4. I’ve got the noise cancelling earphones so that while I’m marching on the street I don’t hear all the noise from the street. 
    5. Finally, I’ve found earphones with a very good mic so that the person on the end on the line can hear me well and hear less the background noise.   
  4. To maximize the chance that I will call somebody who is available, we shared our gps coordinates (of course this option has been unlocked only for those who wanted it). In this way I can see where are family members that I want to call at the moment, and they can see my position. In this way, when I see that somebody doesn’t reply I can try to understand why he is not available from where he is. For instance when I see my parents at shopping mall I will tend to call somebody else as I know for my mom it’s difficult to take a call cause she need to hold here phone while carrying a basket. Please find here the link to the article about how to configure GPS sharing feature via Google Maps.

Chats / text messaging

At the beginning, with those with Facebook account I was chatting (text messaging) on Facebook Messenger. And to others, I was sending SMSs or emails. But rapidly I started to feel that I waist a lot of time and that the one-to-one chat conversations are not being shared with other members (ex. sending SMS to my mom is not visible by my sister or a Viber chat with my cousin is not visible to my dad. So eventually I need to repeat to my parents what I’ve told to my sister etc.)  

Little by little I’ve put in place some improvements listed below : 

  1. To avoid the situation when I had a chat conversation with one family member and other is not aware of it, I started to create large conversation groups and use them very often. For instance, I’ve created a chat conversation group between my dad, mom, sister, her husband and my girlfriend.  Another group is my dad, mom, sister, her husband and my girlfriend, sister of my mom, brother of my mom, and 5 other family members from my mom side. 
  2. I’ve started to use theses chats groups very often with simple messages. Sometimes I take a photo of where I am at the moment and send it to theses group with short comment. For example “beautiful weather here in Berlin“. Usually somebody with react with his photo or a short comment.  My mom will often start a conversation on something that she saw on one of the photos posted on the group. Usually one photo or one simple comment can foster a medium or long conversation in the group. In this way I can follow this conversation without the need to replay (since group members are talking between them) and learn what is happening with in their life. 
  3. For my family In order to facilitate the use of all those services (Facebook, Skype, Viber,…) I changed all phones, tablets and computers of my family members to have the same system and to be sure that whenever somebody have a problem I know how to repair it. Moreover I’ve I made sure that everybody ( at least those who need it) have access to 4G, 3G plan and I bought couple of terabytes of storage for photos that I can share with all my family so that I they don’t need to manage their storage space on phone for photos. 

End on part 1

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