The pandemic taught us many things, especially about maintaining a work-life balance. We learnt that commuting daily to a physical office isn’t as crucial as we once thought for some jobs. We also discovered numerous benefits of working remotely for both employers and employees. For instance, businesses can access an expansive talent pool by recruiting globally and employees can enjoy the flexibility of working remotely.
The traditional workplace serves as a medium for team members to bond and establish personal connections. For example, the spontaneous hallway catch-ups, the quick team huddles in the conference room, the coffee breaks and lunch room banter. With remote work, all of the things that were vital elements of the workspace’s communications have been replaced by personal computers and a toss-up between apps and online tools.
As it’s evident that remote work is here to stay, it’s essential to understand some of the effective communication strategies to implement within teams in a remote workplace.
This article highlights effective strategies that can improve communication for remote teams. Read further to see tried and tested remote team communication strategies.
How can remote teams improve communication?
Be empathetic and prioritize connections
Working remotely is unconventional. Unlike meeting your colleagues face to face at the office, remote work has hidden us behind screens. The best way to find out how your team members feel and what they need is to ask them directly. Being intentional about establishing healthy connections with remote teammates will help you avoid just assuming how they feel. One way to get to know each other better is by sharing user manuals - a simple questionnaire that contains questions like, “what part of the day do you perform the best?” “What annoys you?” “what motivates you?” and much more. User manuals are a great way to get insights into employees' working styles, preferences, and values.
Create a virtual watercooler space
Without a dedicated office space, remote teams often miss out on the fun and spontaneous watercooler chats about life or even a trending show that allows us to know each other personally. But with remote teams, most of the time, we end up talking only about work and the opportunity to bond is lost.
This is where a virtual watercooler space comes into play. A virtual water cooler is like a virtual break room for non-work conversations. It’s an online space where remote workers can relax, share memes, funny cat gifs, talk about the latest TV show you binge-watch, or a funny article you saw online. This wipes out the distance between team members and makes one feel connected to the community.
Carve out time to regularly check in with your team
Consider catching up with your team every week or two to discuss the tasks you’ve been working on. Not every meeting needs to have an agenda, but scheduling these short meetings regularly can break the communication barrier in remote work. During these meetings, check in to see how their week has been so far, and you’ll be surprised to see your co-workers soon become your friends even though you’re working remotely.
Do not micromanage
While working remotely, many individuals try to contact team members numerous times a day to monitor their tasks. While this may be essential when handling crucial tasks, it can be an invasion of privacy when it has little to do about work. It’s important to understand that your team members who work remotely are responsible individuals. One best way to achieve effective communication at work is to make your team feel trusted and valued. Another grave mistake to avoid in remote setup is bombarding your team with calls or messages regarding tasks. Very sooner or later, checking in on tasks might come off as micromanaging, which can be a stumbling block in remote communication.
Get regular feedback from employees
One crucial remote team communication strategy is to get continuous employee feedback on work, communication methods, roadblocks and understand what’s working and isn’t. When you collect feedback, act on it immediately. This makes your team valued and acknowledged. It’s vital to communicate openly and keep the feedback two-way. Feedback is a great way to ensure effective team communication and boost productivity.
Craft an internal newsletter to share insights
One of the perks of going to an office is that employees can stay informed about what’s happening in the company, essential projects, and just bonding with their colleagues. However, it can be challenging to keep abreast of internal and external news when working remotely. Hence, creating a dedicated space for remote employees to look for important information is vital for streamlining communication. One such is to send out internal monthly newsletters to the employees to communicate news and happenings across the company. This establishes a sense of belonging amongst the employees and serves as an archive to refer back to.
Use the right tool(s) and platform that work for you
With a steady upward trend in remote work, the sky is the limit when choosing apps and tools to communicate and organize your work. One thing you can do is to choose a comprehensive platform or an app where you can upload tasks, conduct meetings, and communicate with one another. This streamlines communication, work tasks and induces transparency within the team. It overcomes remote working communication challenges and keeps everyone motivated to work towards a goal.
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