The pandemic has reshaped the schedules and working of the teams, globally. Believe it or not, communication has become an important key and it’s even harder when your team is suddenly working from their homes. And to create a sense of warmth that transcends remote work, most of us are looking for better alternatives to improve remote communication.
Let’s face it, while most of our work communication is through emails or Slack, that alone doesn’t take us anywhere.
What is the need to communicate?
We rely too much on face to face conversations. In the office, we can simply walk over to a coworker’s desk to chat, schedule a meeting in-person, or call someone up for a quick project update. We have no reason to try and change that.
If someone wasn’t in office, they were of course missing out on this and hence would be out of loop. This also happens to be the primary reason we cling to the traditional working from office culture too.
Ease of communication is something that many office workers take for granted. They can. For remote workers, time zones and distance make communication much more difficult. Not only does it require more work to ensure everyone is on the same page and understanding each other, remote employees need to make more of an effort to build a rapport with coworkers.
When you cannot simply phone a team member for an impromptu update, or stroll by their desk to ask what they’re doing this weekend, our communication suffers as you probably already noticed.
How to improve your remote communication?
For a team to function effectively, there must be open channels of communication. However, active participation from everybody spurs ideas and resources (team members’ effort) can be used more efficiently and therefore things move faster.
Here’s how we can change that.
It starts with the people
The first rule of team communication is that everybody should be able to voice their thoughts and ideas. People are central to communication. Working from remote locations needs good communication skills. Take a few minutes to make sure your team is on the page and move towards the same goal. Assign each of yourself with the tasks to be done.
Get rid of the out of sight, out of mind attitude. Communicate proactively. Companies are going as far as saying overcommunication is the key to remote work. And, they are not entirely wrong.
Embrace the tools
When your team runs remotely, the tools you use to connect your team sets off your office.
We don’t have to stress on how important it is that you choose your communication channels carefully. The tools you pick can impact not just how you communicate but can define your very culture.
Imagine having to call a colleague, every time something comes up. By not choosing the right channels and tools, you’ve chosen to interrupt and intrude on your coworker all the time. You might as well say you have no respect for the other’s time and trade.
Find the right pick of the tools you need in Appendix A.
Schedule regular Catch-ups
Of course, regular catch-ups could minimize FOMO. Either you talk in groups or make plans, collectively discussing ideas always brings more on the table than doing it solo. Conduct meetings but try keeping them short, concrete and frequent. Bring enthusiasm and try to add value to the conversations. Having enthusiasm is contagious and gets your team going faster.
Adopt Asynchronous Communication
Build an asynchronous communication channel that has all the information that associates need. Asynchronous communication takes up less work time, and increases efficiency. Also, not expecting immediate response generally leads to more thoughtful insights and discussion, on the cost of waiting time. The waiting time isn’t really a cost, but an asset – there is always something else to do.
There are several tools for different purposes – slack for messaging, asana for project management, Dropbox for file sharing, which can make asynchronous communication possible.
Prioritize public chats over private messages
Try to keep most of the information to be public knowledge. Share as much as you can with your remote team. Build public relations instead of keeping a tie with one. Create certain Whatsapp groups and make use of Gifs, stickers to encourage conversations. We all come from different beliefs and have different perceptions. Why not share the same and grow together?
Remember, communicating in the open nurtures an open, collaborative culture that encourages people to chime in and innovate.
Weave it into your culture
Remote teams need to cultivate a special culture that will help the remote workforce to stay productive. Many companies have virtual meetups and chat sessions and strong mentorship programs. It’s important to make sure that the remote employees don’t turn into silos.
Culture is about how the team works together as a cohesive unit. Hence, the way your company performs has a direct correlation to culture.
We humans often think with our emotions and feelings. As the mandate for working remotely continues, verbal communication can only replace in-person interactions. And now, the workplace is no longer just one office or location.
If your own team is becoming more dispersed, look for the areas where communication and engagement is falling apart. Do not forget to broadcast remote employee accomplishments to the whole team or even the whole company. It’s just another way to encourage your employees when it comes to their performance and career progression.
Surely, we all need to communicate well but remote work requires a little more attention. Be wise and adapt these communication guidelines to build better relationships with your friends, clients or employees.