6 Tips For Effective Communication While Working Remotely

    Businessman talking to team of colleagues on online video conference call on laptop. Screen view of coach, teacher and students attending webinar. Distance business meeting, remote work concept

    After the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies asked their employees to work from home to help curb the spread of the virus. What started as a necessity following government directives has since become integral in many enterprises’ operations. In fact, currently, some companies have a significant portion of their team working remotely.

    However, as you’d expect, this shift in operation came with its fair share of challenges. For example, many firms in the United States, especially in Washington State, found it difficult to communicate effectively with all employees. While many prefer a traditional coworking space Seattle and most of the country look toward the future. Still, communication issues remain a huge setback in any work-from-home system. This article aims to provide you with tips to alleviate this problem with your teams.

    Choose your language wisely

    Language is one factor that’s rarely talked about when it comes to remote communication, but it has a huge impact on your team’s relationship. The way you speak to your colleagues when you’re next to them is quite different from how you express the same sentiments via a call or a written message.

    Body gestures play a massive role when making a point to the audience. So unless you’re contacting your employees via a video call, you should strive to express yourself in the simplest form possible to avoid any confusion and misinterpretation. For one, try to avoid a lot of sarcasm in your written texts because not everyone can easily decode the intended message. Remember, it’s not the recipient’s job to try and understand what you’re saying, but it’s your responsibility as the sender to make it simpler for them. 

    In this system, you’re likely to find yourself working with people from different parts of the world. That means you’ll come across different cultures and languages. Therefore, be sure to use appropriate, straightforward phrases to avoid any unwanted confusion in your communication. While you’re at it, you can also try using your target’s native language to say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ to at least spice up the conversation and make it more interactive. 

    Consider the most appropriate medium

    There are many modes of communication designed to enhance your remote working. However, not all these methods are ideal for sending every message. When there is significant news regarding business operations, it’s imperative that you choose the right medium to relay this information. (1)

    For instance, if the company is planning to close down or has been suspended for a given period, you wouldn’t want to share this message with the rest of the team via a text message. It would appear unprofessional and may not reach all the people within the intended time. As such, it would be prudent to try other modes like video conferencing, voice calls, and official emails. 

    Plan regular check-in meetings

    With your team working remotely, especially for a big company, knowing what each team member is experiencing can be challenging. In a traditional office, you can know when someone is going through a rough patch by looking at how they interact with other colleagues. But with everyone working from the comfort of their homes, this becomes extremely difficult. 

    One thing you can do to counter this problem is organize regular meetings. Weekly team discussions over a video conference will help you unite virtually and catch up. This way, you’ll have a better chance of knowing if all your employees are doing fine. Such actions can mean a lot to your workers because they’ll feel appreciated by the company.

    Apart from the social benefits, another advantage of regular check-in meetings is that they enhance productivity. When team members converge virtually to discuss their progress, you get an idea of how the operations are going. As such, various weaknesses and strengths will be easy to note, which is beneficial to any business development.

    You might be hosting these regular meetings already but with no significant fruits. So what could be the issue? For one, it’s not recommended overdoing such events. For instance, hosting one meeting every week is okay. But repeating the same twice or thrice within five days can become monotonous and unproductive. 

    Another mistake you could be making is not sending out reminders. Communicating to your team prior to the meeting is very important because it ensures that the employees are well-prepared for the discussion. Someone whose week has been too busy can easily forget to attend the meeting, and that’s a loss both for them and the company. Therefore, be sure to communicate early enough and follow up on any feedbacks received during every meeting. 

    Don’t forget employees from different time zones

    As you shift your focus to remote working, there is a huge chance that you’re going to attract top talents from all over the world. In the long run, you will have teams from different countries, all trying to accomplish the same goal.

    How will you ensure proper communication in such situation? First, it’s recommended that you set up two or more shifts of operation throughout the day. Allocate different team members to these shifts depending on their availability and region or country of origin. You can also try to overlap these work sessions to give two teams a chance of interacting with one another before handing over their duties.

    This structure will make it easier for you to communicate with all employees during the working hours. As such, all important information can be relayed to the relevant parties with utmost efficiency, which is every business owner’s dream.

    It’s worth noting, though, that as you implement these changes, you should prioritize the employee needs. Before coming up with shifts and meeting hours, be sure to ask everyone if they’re comfortable with those timelines. You can do so during the interviews or through questionnaires. Inquire about the most appropriate form of communication as earlier mentioned. This way, you’ll be able to meet your business goals without hurting your employees in any way.

    Don’t be too serious

    It’s okay to be serious and keep everything formal in your communication, but this shouldn’t be the spirit of your team 24/7. As people work remotely in their home offices, their social life tends to deteriorate. Therefore, lightening up the mood in your virtual offices can raise the spirit of your employees, which is a boost to the overall productivity.

    One effective communication strategy you can employ is the use of virtual social spaces like Slack channel, Microsoft Teams fun group, or a Facebook page. All these may not seem like a big deal, but they have a significant impact on the social life of your employees. In fact, many companies that have embraced remote working encourage their team members to send pictures of their pets, birthday cards, and even discuss lunch choices on these social spaces. (2)

    How does this strategy impact the relationship between your employees? Well, it gets rid of the distance factor and makes everyone feel like they’re working together from one location. Making everything informal gives your workers a chance to know each other even better, which is very important in improving future communication. 

    Educate your teams

    Education is another factor that’s very underrated when it comes to managing remote teams and improving communication. Remember, this change of operation is new to many people, especially those who are used to working in physical offices. Therefore, it can be quite tricky for them to choose the appropriate communication media whenever they want to send a message to management or fellow employees.

    To get rid of this issue and ensure that every team member understands their responsibilities, you can offer regular employee education sessions. During such events, you can teach your workers about all the available channels and how to use them effectively. This will go a long way in enhancing communication within your business.

    Encourage your team to report any related issues in your communication system. The earlier this is reported to the relevant departments, the earlier it can be solved. As such, you’ll be able to alleviate any problems before they grow bigger, which will you avoid any unnecessary downtime in the future. 

    Conclusion

    Working remotely has become widespread in many modern companies. You cannot deny the benefits enjoyed by employees and business owners, especially given the current global health crisis. However, remote working also comes with a lot of challenges, one of which is communication.

    To improve your communication in such a system as a business, you’ll first need to use the appropriate language and medium to relay specific information. You can also plan regular meetings to ensure that you catch up with all team members on a weekly basis. Such meetings can only be effective when everyone attends. Therefore, make sure you consider employees from different time zones when scheduling for the next event.

    Communication isn’t all about sending emails and formal conversations between different parties. Creating a social space where employees can hold informal discussions can go a long way in strengthening relationships and improving productivity.

    References

    1. “Three Ways To Improve Remote Work In 2020”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/08/24/three-ways-to-improve-remote-work-in-2020/?sh=5a84892e45f9
    2. “How To Effectively Communicate Remotely”, Source: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/effectively-communicate-remotely-33662.html

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