Undoubtedly, you must have come across myriad tales about operating with remote or dispersed teams. You may have even heard some tales about mishaps during conference calls, such as needing to remind a person for the tenth time that their microphone was muted.
Despite having a two-year experience to rely on, several organizations continue to encounter obstacles in working collaboratively from remote locations. Nevertheless, this has presented a favourable occasion for learning from previous errors and experimenting with new communication techniques.
Now, we shall delve into the different modes of virtual team communication, along with the most efficient methods for remote collaboration that can improve the dynamics within your organization.
The Best Platforms for Long-Distance Communication
As per the survey results by Owl Labs, a substantial majority (81%) of remote employees are confident regarding their company’s intention to retain work from home policies even after the pandemic is over. Furthermore, 59% of those who participated in the survey expressed their preference for working from home rather than an office.
It is now a widely accepted fact that remote working is productive. Therefore, executives’ present concern lies in devising ways of effectively communicating with their remote teams.
Now, let us discuss the most efficient approaches to coordinate with a team that is dispersed in location.
1. Clear Description of Procedures
In simpler terms, it means discussing the process of communication. It is vital to ensure that the team comprehends the purpose of each communication channel and when they should employ it.
Do we have any work-related information that demands our prompt attention? If not, kindly share any feedback or updates on Trello. However, if the matter is pressing, try reaching out to me through Skype and if it is an emergency, kindly call my mobile phone number.
If messages are not directed to the appropriate recipients, it may result in the implementation of incorrect strategies, or vital information being overlooked. Nevertheless, it is imperative to reflect on the utilisation of group channels, as this might take up the valuable time of all participants, even when a prompt reply is not necessary.
2. Acknowledge Idle Periods
The possibility to collaborate with colleagues working in various time zones is one of the major advantages of remote work. Nonetheless, if one is not adequately prepared, it could turn into an absolute nightmare.
At Works, employees are recruited from different parts of the globe, such as Canada, Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Portugal and Romania. We acknowledge the significance of being aware of everyone’s availability for remote communication and hence conduct meetings to ensure everyone is in sync.
One can easily detect time zone conflicts and avoid interrupting remote employees who may be occupied with other activities or asleep by employing a tool like World Time Buddy.
3. Daily Briefing
To keep pace with the ever-evolving software development industry, many enterprises are altering their operations to be more nimble. Irrespective of the approach, whether it be agile or the conventional waterfall method, routine check-ins are valuable and facilitate seamless remote communication without being excessively intrusive.
The results of incessantly pressuring a remote team for updates are predictable: none. Micromanagement leads to a decrease in morale and enthusiasm among team members. It is important to create a work environment based on mutual trust where employees are appreciated for their efforts.
A daily standup is a crucial aspect of Agile methodology and serves as a means of ensuring that team members are productive each day. Whether one chooses to follow an asynchronous or synchronous approach, all team members are kept informed of tasks and who is available to provide assistance. This guarantees the efficient utilisation of time and prevents wastage.
4. Adhere to the “Read Twice, Respond Once” Policy.
It is a widely accepted fact that a considerable section of our communication involves non-verbal cues. As individuals, we often rely on visual cues to comprehend each other’s intentions. However, texting as the primary mode of communication deprives us of this, leading to misinterpretations and misplaced offence.
In case you receive a message that makes you feel uneasy, it is recommended to utilise Hanlan’s Razor. Even if the person seems offended or angry, it does not necessarily imply bad intentions. If you require additional explanation, feel free to ask. Otherwise, try to comprehend the message better by exploring different interpretations of its meaning.
5. Be Cognisant of Your Language
It is imperative to guarantee that your writing is clear and precisely conveys your intended message. Remember that not all team members may be acquainted with cultural phrases and idioms, particularly when you work with international teams.
After drafting your message, it is crucial to analyse it from the recipient’s point of view. Pause and examine whether the message is comprehensible or not. If needed, revamp your writing for better clarity.
Despite some initial reluctance towards utilising emojis in remote work settings, many have witnessed the advantages of this practice. Emojis add a touch of humour and personalisation to communications. However, some individuals may consider it unprofessional. Studies reveal that approximately 50% of millennials have a favourable opinion of colleagues who use emoticons.
6. Virtual Gathering Space
Collaborating with a remote team has numerous advantages such as fewer disruptions that can enhance efficiency. Nonetheless, it is vital to acknowledge that the human connection holds irreplaceable value.
The significance of having a digital platform for the entire team, like Slack, cannot be emphasised enough. Creating channels for personal topics such as parenting and hobbies can be advantageous. Additionally, dedicating some conference call time for individuals to share their weekend stories can be an excellent strategy to cultivate a sense of camaraderie.
It is crucial to acknowledge the significant role that amusing pet and meme content play in enhancing cultural progress and fortifying team unity. Thus, it is acceptable to engage in discussions regarding such topics alongside work-related matters in online group chats.
7. Contrary to Popular Assumption, Emails Rarely Contain Time-Sensitive Information.
When it comes to an urgent matter at work, sending an email is comparable to opting to go to the hospital after a car accident. It is illogical in every sense!
Remote team members are not required to and should not feel pressured to check their emails every 30 seconds. The pandemic-induced shift towards remote work highlights how excessive time spent on reading emails can be unproductive.
For effective remote collaboration, video conferencing using Zoom and chat systems like Slack outperform traditional phone conversations and emails.
8. Time Management, Holidays, and Time Off
If business activities are limited to standard working hours, contacting the receptionist over the weekend to locate a specific customer profile should ideally never be necessary.
When collaborating with a remote team, it is crucial that every member abides by the same boundaries. As a standard practice, it is advisable not to communicate with them beyond regular working hours, unless informed otherwise. Moreover, it is significant to honour their right to take time off and enjoy their holidays.
It is essential to have a conversation about working hours with new hires since these can vary based on the position. It is recommended not to anticipate a reply to calls, emails, or Slack messages outside of their working hours.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that achieving a balance between work and personal life is a mutually beneficial effort. If you want your team members to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it’s vital to be flexible and accommodating of any limitations they may have. Similarly, they should strive to keep you informed of any schedule changes and give sufficient notice of any prolonged absences. This should be a standard practice, as with any other employer.
9. End-of-Day Reports
Keeping a close watch on the progress of remote team members is not essential for ensuring successful task completion. Nonetheless, implementing efficient mechanisms and processes can help managers keep track of operations without resorting to micromanagement. While some may regard end-of-day reports as unnecessary bureaucracy, others may find them valuable in assessing the day’s tasks.
For businesses, this is an excellent strategy to establish trust and establish expectations with remote staff. If organizing regular team calls is not viable, an end-of-day report can be extremely useful. You can ease your concerns and get a head start on the next day’s tasks by asking all staff members to submit a short update via Slack or email.
Frequently Asked Questions on Remote Employee Communications
Firstly, how do remote communications function?
Remote communication refers to the use of technology to discuss a project. While it may seem straightforward, virtual communication can often be more complex than just exchanging information in organizations where employees are geographically dispersed. Team members may be working from different locations and time zones, so it’s crucial to schedule a convenient time and place for them to ask questions and offer their input.
Therefore, What Are the Various Modes of Digital Communication?
Asynchronous communication is a type of interaction where the sender and receiver are not concurrently present. Messages can be sent and received at any time regardless of the recipient’s availability. Common methods of asynchronous communication include email, Slack, Trello, and Skype for online messaging.
In synchronous communication, all parties are participating in a live conversation. This could entail a planned teleconference or a group video chat using services such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. Although the benefit of this is receiving prompt responses, the drawback is that this form of communication is instantaneous. It’s not always simple to coordinate schedules when team members are located in various time zones.
When possible, in-person meetings can help establish team cohesiveness. Events like company picnics, offsite retreats, or on-site meetings should be extended to remote employees to ensure inclusivity. While asynchronous communication is important for remote teams, there can be delays in replies when members are not available simultaneously. Synchronous modes of communication should be employed for sharing information that needs immediate attention.
What are the Top Five Effective Communication Strategies?
- Verbal communication, also known as speaking with other individuals, can take place in-person or online using tools such as Zoom.
- Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, body language, and eye contact.
- The written word strives to communicate information clearly. It’s all accomplished digitally through messages like emails, reports, Tweets, etc.
- Active listening enables us to involve the other individual in the conversation.
- The fifth form of communication is visual and encompasses memes, videos, photos, and any other medium that transmits a message.
It’s Time to Establish a Remote Team
As evidenced, remote work has become a permanent aspect of the global economy, and as the landscape continues to evolve, so must the workforce. In addition to a strong corporate culture, efficient communication is vital for establishing a thriving remote organization.
By utilising effective remote communication tools, your team can achieve remarkable results and productivity. Are you searching for highly skilled remote IT staff? We would be an ideal match. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.