How to Communicate With a Remote Team to Keep Communication Real

Tips to Embed Remote Communication Best Practices in Your Organization

Face-to-face communication, or the act of talking to someone in person, is a way of communicating that is commonly associated with human contact. Virtual communication may include chatting over the internet and using voice or video chat. Remote team communication takes place when different people are in separate locations and keep in touch with their team members via online communication tools.

As more people are working from home, remote team communication is becoming the new norm. But it’s not quite like face-to-face communication. Many people feel it lacks authenticity and is often forced and fake. How can your remote teams keep communication real? What remote communication methods should you use? 

Tips to improve your remote team communication strategies

When a team is not working together in a specific location, it makes collaboration more difficult. Team members can’t simply visit each other’s desks. There are no meetings by the watercooler and no informal gatherings during lunch breaks. 

When we’re working together in the office, we don’t notice just how much time we spend communicating with our colleagues during the day. It’s part of our natural routine. When the team is working remotely, we must adopt new methods of communication to embed constant communication as a strategic priority.

Leaders must learn how to communicate with a remote team effectively. It’s crucial to ensure that team members understand their roles and responsibilities, and that we encourage collaboration ─ not only with the communication tools we use, but by providing structured communication slots, and allowing team members the freedom to communicate with their colleagues. We mustn’t be seen to be looking over their shoulder and analyzing every word they speak or type.

When working remotely, communication is key to engaging your people and developing a high-performing team. Here are methods of remote team communication that will help you.

  • One-on-ones and check-ins

Working remotely, people can’t pop their heads around their manager’s door to have a quick chat. It’s important to be available to check in with your employees. Keep a timetable of daily calls, just to ask your team members how they are and if they have any issues or require help. Make sure you take an interest in them individually, and not only the work they are doing.

More formally, set up a weekly one-to-one with each team member to discuss goals and development needs, and to give and receive feedback. Let them know that you appreciate them and are invested in their career.

  • Team meetings

Weekly team meetings are important forums to allow the team to discuss their current work, brainstorm ideas, and ask for and offer help to colleagues. They are also ideal for leaders to share company and team news.

However, online team meetings can be problematic, because it is more difficult to keep people engaged in the process. It is also harder to regulate and ensure that all are having an input.

To mitigate such issues, it’s good practice to share agendas at least 24 hours before the meeting is due to take place and to timetable the meeting for the same day and time each week. Put in place a system that ensures team members are muted, and that they must ‘put their hands up’ to talk. Keep the meetings as short and on point as possible.

For an extra human touch, managers could arrange for each team member to be delivered a pizza or healthy eating box for a monthly lunch meeting. It’s different from going out as a team, but not a bad substitute in the world of remote working.

  • Email

Email will continue to be an important method of remote team communication. It allows you to explain details, and is a suitable format to enable workers to retrieve information easily. However, it’s important to resist the temptation to put too much in single emails, and you should remember that emails are slower than other forms of communication. Therefore:

  • Always keep emails short and on point

  • Never use them for urgent communication

  • Ensure emails are read at least twice a day (beginning and end of the day)

  • If you can, use the subject line for the message

  • Always mark as important/urgent any emails that require the most attention

  • Avoid clogging email inboxes by ensuring you only send emails to the intended recipient

By following these simple rules, you should use email effectively.

  • Project management tools/software

There are many project management tools that your organization can use, and many offer advanced capabilities such as real-time collaboration. This makes it possible for colleagues to work on the same files simultaneously, just like they would if sat at the same desk in an office. Colleagues can also chat together in real-time, and managers can monitor workflow to improve productivity.

To get the most from PM tools, it is crucial that they are set up properly, that all the apps needed are available, and that teams are trained in how to use them effectively.

It’s virtually impossible to overcommunicate

Regular and frequent communication is essential to keep remote teams motivated, engaged, and connected with their team. These tips for best remote communication practices will help you do all of this, negating the debilitating factors of location and time.

As you build your remote communication strategy, be sure to utilize the tools that make the most sense for your business. These might include Zoom, Slack, Trello, Skype, and others. These tools will enable you to communicate effectively, and the tips we’ve shared here will help you to do so.

For more insight into the best remote communication practices, visit our communication shorts.

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