Communication is the key to successful organizational planning and execution and is used as a bridge for information transfer among remote employees. Communicating effectively within the team has always been one of the biggest challenges of moving from office culture to remote work culture.
Working from home has many benefits, especially during the current situation, with 77% of remote workers stating that they're more productive. However, remote communication has always been a challenge for distributed teams.
What is Remote Communication?
Companies use remote communication to interact with their employees, agents, customers, and business partners to transfer information and conduct business. It is an advanced form of communication that uses various facilities to enable communication between the parties who are not located at the same place.
Remote communication, referred to as virtual communication, allows companies to be flexible and work from anywhere. In addition, it helps companies to hire people who have expertise in specific areas and deploy them anywhere in the world.
Common types of remote communication are:
- Zoom or video calls.
- Phone calls.
- Virtual meetings.
- SMS text messages.
- Slack or Microsoft Teams conversations.
Advantages of remote communication:
Remote communication is widely used in companies to give their employees the freedom to work from anywhere globally, saving them infrastructure costs and access to a more excellent talent pool.
Increased Flexibility: Virtual communication is accessible. All you need is an internet connection and a device to communicate.
Efficient: With remote communication, you get the ability to communicate with people instantly without meeting them face-to-face, saving you commute time and energy.
No boundaries: Communicating remotely allows you to connect with people in different parts of the world without worrying about the time difference, different cultures, and backgrounds.
Cost-effective: It helps you as well as your company save time and money. You don't have to travel to meet your customers and employees. You will be able to save money on business trips and the cost of hiring an office.
Mastering Remote Communication:
Use the right virtual communication tools:
Keeping everyone in the loop is not easy, but you can make it less painful with the correct communication tools along with other remote working tools.
Asynchronous communication tools: It's essential to have a tool that lets everyone get in touch quickly and easily. Internal messaging tools such as Slack are indispensable for remote teams. Dropbox Paper or Google Docs are great ways to pass on information when your team is not actively collaborating. These cloud-based chat tools are indispensable for remote teams.
Video communication tools: Video is a great way to connect with people when they can't be with you. Use video conferencing technologies like Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. They have screen sharing, integrated chat, and recording.
Document storage: Each team member should have access to a document storage tool, such as Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive. In addition, use a shared notebook tool like Evernote, Google Keep, or OneNote. It's a great way to store ideas, stories, or inspiration.
Calendar tools: Everyone should use the same calendar tool (Google Calendar, Any. do, Microsoft Outlook, or anything else). Giving team members equal access to all calendars will stop endless email threads discussing schedules and time zones.
Project & task management tools: Create and manage projects in real-time in project management tools. It also lets you track projects to ensure all the deadlines are met, and essential details are accessible to everyone. Whether you use Asana, Trello, JIRA, or something else, it's an integral part of the workflow that will keep your team motivated and help everyone track progress.
Make meetings short and effective:
Respect your team's time and mental energy by planning a meeting ahead of time.
- Invite people who are required – Add team members who need to attend the meeting. Don't invite anyone teammates don't need to be there. Record the meeting so that anyone else can listen to it if needed.
- Set an agenda – An agenda includes a list of topics to be covered and the goal of the meeting. Have a clear, actionable plan and focus on that.
- Make it short – Use your agenda to estimate the time required for the meeting, then only schedule it. Stick to the start and end items strictly.
- Engage everyone – Engage teammates to satisfy the goals of the meeting. Nobody should sit quietly through a meeting. Your team is included for a reason, so ask them to contribute.
Adapt to the challenges of remote communication:
Now, with the internet, people can move around so quickly. Everyone can get their cup of coffee and get back to work. But, with all of this freedom, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. This is why it's essential to communicate why you're speaking in the first place.
Whatever the reason, it's essential to be clear about what you're doing. This is how you can keep the conversation on track. No need to track it down; it'll be right here. Of course, you should be careful not to spend too much time explaining your communication, but a quick note is an excellent way to avoid being misunderstood.
In-person communication was always accessible. You could communicate directly and quickly, and both parties knew exactly what was going on. In addition, the communication was easy to follow. Now, with the internet, people can move around so quickly. But, with all of this freedom, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. This is why it's essential to communicate why you're speaking in the first place.
Trust and transparency are even more important for remote teams. Formalize your communication. Stick to the schedule, use the right tools, and be more deliberate. Make it easy for team members to talk to you. Always stay open to emails, video meetings, team discussions, direct messages, phone calls, or whatever your team uses to communicate. Especially when you first begin to build trust, try not to shut down any attempts to connect.
Not everything has to be a video meeting:
In-person communication, email, or something else—whatever you choose, you should make sure it's the best and most efficient way to communicate. If you're thinking of communicating via video call instead of email, you should think about why you're choosing to communicate that way. If it is a video call, it should justify the time it involves.
For the most part, email is best for business. You can make notes about it. It also gives you time to think about what you're going to say. This isn't the case with video calls, where you don't have a record. Email or chats is not nearly as efficient as video conferencing. If someone isn't online and available and the issue at hand is not urgent, consider an email or chat option instead of a video call.
Learn remote communication skills:
In-person communication leaves little room for misunderstanding. You can see facial expressions, body language, and tone. With virtual communication, you have to rely on your words and punctuation to make a point, leading to confusion. Thus it is significant to learn verbal as well as written communication for remote employees. A clear and concise way to communicate is a must.
Set specific hours for collaboration:
Communication is a two-way street. For remote communication to work, you need to be intentional and use it on time. For example, after messaging someone, please don't wait for them to respond. It may take a few minutes or days. It's important to respect personal time. But you need a certain amount of overlapping work time to get things done as a team, too.
The key is to be flexible, keep specific hours for collaboration and respect the fact that everybody is in a different time zone. Keep the communication going, and make sure you're aware of the situation. This can help prevent misunderstandings and miscommunication.
Follow your company's communication guidelines:
A company's guidelines should include:
Communicate expectations: Having clear communication guidelines in place for your team is essential for successful remote work. The guide should include company values, communication guidelines, and what's expected of team members.
Team communication plan: In your communication guide, identify the primary tools your team will use to communicate and create a communication plan to get everyone on the same page.
Effective email habits: With team members spread across time zones, it's essential to set up email communication guidelines, including what time of day to expect responses and CC people.
Productivity and accountability standards: With the right tools and communication plan in place, you can set up accountability standards to keep your team on track. This will help you to reduce the amount of time you spend on status update meetings.
Millions of people worldwide are adapting to remote work right now, and learning how to communicate and meet without being in the same space effectively has become increasingly necessary.
Hopefully, the tips above will help you and your team continue collaborating and conversing despite the unusual work circumstances. Make every meeting worthwhile, using the right tools, planning, and including the right people in each call, giving everybody the personal space they need.
Further, you can go over our guide to see how companies hire remote employees and learn other common questions remote workers ask. If you are searching for a remote job and don't know where to look? We are a remote job board and have the latest jobs posted in various categories to help you. Finally, join like-minded people in our LinkedIn community.