Remote team communication is tricky. A lot of problems can arise when miscommunication occurs. Here are some useful tips to strengthen the work dynamic of your virtual team.
With remote work becoming a permanent setup in the labor force, companies are strategically adjusting standard operations and procedures to better fit the new normal. While working away from the office has benefits for both an organization and its employees, it also comes with risks. In order for business operations to run smoothly, certain measures have to be taken into higher regard, especially concerning communication aspects.
Communication and collaboration are the most common struggles of remote work. It’s even more difficult when teams are in different time zones. Not only should you coordinate real-time interactions, but you also have to plan out asynchronous tasks. You need to go the extra mile to improve communication for remote teams. With that said, we’ve compiled some tips to activate effective remote team communication.
How to Improve Remote Team Communication
The greatest challenge when it comes to work-from-home setup is learning online etiquette. Clearly, interacting online is drastically different from physical settings. For one, the lack of personal contact tends to make us neglect social cues. So, to avoid miscommunication and relational conflicts, here are some key points to consider:
1. Introduce communication tools
The pandemic is a catalyst for businesses to pivot toward the digital path. With operations integrating the latest tech, there came a boost in productivity. However, the sudden shift to tech isn’t all that easy to keep up with.
One of the major hindrances in remote team communication is the difficulty of using communication tools. Your less tech-savvy employees may have a difficult time adjusting to the new setup.
There is a learning curve with every tool they use, especially if it’s a new software or device. Some may end up being less productive because of their lack of knowledge and experience. So be sure to give your team the proper assistance and training.
There are many ways to simplify the process for them. You can provide step-by-step video tutorials or manuals for them to refer to. Moreover, an orientation on how you’ll be using each communication tool will be helpful.
Take note of certain tools your team finds too complicated and look for a simpler alternative. When the team is adept at using all their tools, online interactions will flow much more efficiently.
2. Set structure
Miscommunication happens when there is no real structure within the communication process. Remote communication requires more talk than usual. Since there is no body language available as a reference, members have to speak out more often. Of course, this doesn’t come as naturally as it would in everyday life.
It’s best to set certain practices and procedures for exchanging information. One efficient way is to create templates in messages. This way, you can properly detail and organize chats, emails, or other forms of messages.
It will also eliminate the needless exchange of information that could have already been included in the first message. By creating a proper process, you get a more productive workflow.
3. Opt for video calls often
The downside of work-from-home setups is social isolation. Your team members might feel isolated because of the lack of everyday interactions. Loneliness affects productivity. It will also affect each member’s job satisfaction in the long term.
To address the issue, you may opt for video meetings more often. Seeing people’s faces and their expressions is much better than just chatting or calling them. It won’t entirely replace real-life interactions, but it will give members the feeling of companionship.
4. Promote non-work channels
Another way to address the loneliness problem with remote work is by promoting social activities. In a remote setup, members may not meet each other at all. So, in order to build better camaraderie, social activities are a must.
Hosting virtual events regularly will help team members bond. The activities don’t have to be grand or time-consuming. You only have to ensure that everyone can participate and interact. Keep in mind that not all people are chatty or willing to open up. So, be sure there’s a host that can facilitate good rapport. Here are some virtual social activities you can try:
- Trivia nights
- Virtual Icebreakers
- Weekly-themed Happy hour
- Virtual coffee dates
5. Use internal messaging tools
Another challenge in remote team communication is the lack of real-time interactions. Although emails work fine, there’s always a chance the recipient would miss them, or they won’t read them until later.
Besides, no one really needs (nor wants) to receive an email for a single question. That’s why instant messaging tools are crucial. Messaging tools like Slack cater to remote teams efficiently. Invest in the premium packages so you can maximize productivity.
All that said, team members should understand the boundaries and the responsibilities of using such communication platforms. For example, one should respond timely during office hours. Conversely, they shouldn’t be forced to reply if they are on break or off the clock.
6. Schedule in-person meetups
At the end of the day, nothing beats getting up close and personal with everyone. Even a once-a-year team meetup is highly beneficial. After all, it’s more fun to work with people you have talked to in real life. Encourage members to meet up in person once in a while or give them incentives to do so. Some companies provide an allowance for in-person team bonding activities.
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