How to Improve Your Team’s Communication in the Era of Remote Work
In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to implement work from home policies. For the majority of employees, that was the first time to work out of offices and apart from colleagues.
The shift from physically shared workspace to home-virtual office challenged even the most experienced managers. Despite the common assumption, effective adoption of the remote work policy is still a substantial issue. And the number one challenge that stands above the rest is communication. Effective team communication is the key to the success of any project as none is built in isolation.
Collaboration and communication remain in the top three struggles of remote working, according to Buffer 2021 annual report.
Since it’s still a concerning issue for many teams, we want to share several tips and tactics on how to maintain good communication skills from remote locations.
How to communicate with remote teams
Establish the norms
Probably your team already adheres to some unwritten rules or behaviors. If not, create guidelines containing tips, suggestions, or strict requirements that will boost efficient communication. Studies reveal that working as a team to define norms can provide benefits for all. The norms ensure security and control within relationships and increase physiological safety. You should determine the following moments:
- Appropriate communication style in emails, chats, and other platforms. Insert clarity by specifying what language, subject topics, emojis, images, or animations are considered appropriate.
- Define when your employees should be available via a particular communication channel
- Adopt best practices of group video meetings
Get technology stuff in order
The first and foremost thing to do when you settle to work from home is to choose tools for seamless and efficient communication within teams. There are various types of software you can invest in to improve remote collaboration:
- Team chat applications help always stay connected with your peers, instant messaging for short-form discussions, and asynchronous communication. At ApexTech, we admire Slack, which we use for knowledge sharing, company communications, memes & gifs sharing, and much more. It’s our primary method of communication that offers versatile features.
- Video conferencing applications allow building stronger relationships between coworkers by enabling interactions via video, voice, or text, either 1 to 1 or in a group. Google Hangouts or Zoom are great ones you can consider using.
- Project management platforms help teams track their progress on tasks and projects, thus cultivating transparency. Employees can see what each other is working on and encourage open collaboration. Consider Jira or Confluence, which are easy to use and adopt tools.
- Software for file sharing & storage provides you with a shared space and easy access to files. It simplifies the collaboration with your clients and partners as well. Google Drive within G Suite is the most popular option for this purpose.
Tip. Give each of your communication tools a clear purpose of usage to avoid mess and confusion in team communication across multiple apps.
Types of communication and where do they fit
Chat for quick decisions & short form discussion
Chat tends to be the pulse of a team. This is the place where most collaboration and communication happen.
Online chat tool encourages employees to reach out whenever they have a question, comment, or just ask what’s up. Chat apps bring everyone together even more than if they were under the same roof.
To enhance chat communication, create more sharply-focused threads related to different projects and oriented on distinct teams to keep any discussions about a particular project in one place.
Chat apps are also perfect spaces for informal talks and jokes that usually happened during lunch or coffee breaks in the office. So, provide your team a virtual space for social connections by creating a channel. It will keep this kind of interaction inside and reduce the noise in the main channel.
Give priority to video meetings
Daily meetings over team chat tools work very well, but sometimes talking to each other directly is priceless. Video calls open up communication lines, add the real human element, and foster social interactions.
From brainstorming, weekly check-ins, delivering critical news, inevitable hard conversations on missed targets or performance improvement, or simply hanging out, video calls excel at keeping us engaged and bringing human connection. Video enables you to pick up on non-verbal communication. What’s more, it helps to limit distractions and zone out.
Many remote teams agree that video conferencing enhances teamwork. Adding as many face-to-face video meetings as possible will provide a lot of value and strengthen the relationship.
Initiate weekly happy hours
Communication between team members shouldn’t all be concentrated on work tasks. You can create fun company rituals or bring those you had in the office to a digital space to encourage informal staff communication and have some fun. Having a virtual coffee break, party, or weekly happy hour promotes emotional connections, and your peers will be able to learn what’s happening in each other’s lives. Hosting birthday celebrations or your company’s anniversary will support good spirits.
Certainly, the format and type of group gatherings will depend on your employees’ preferences and company culture.
Try team-building activities online
You can convert your team-building events or board games you used to play in the office for the virtual space. This will bring more human interaction to remote work and drive a sense of community and shared understanding. Create a weekly team meeting to gather all of you on a group video call together, where employees can recognize each other’s hard work and leadership to tell what’s going on with the company. The next meeting you can dedicate to playing board games online or conduct some fun activities.
Virtual team-building is a great way to improve communication, reduce feelings of loneliness & disconnection from coworkers, as well as build trust among your team members.
Your team can stay close together even when they are apart
Your effort to improve communication processes in your team will pay off. Following the best practices and tactics described above, you’ll observe your team spending more time on solving problems instead of disagreements or reminders to each other.
Working from home, our ApexTech team realized you shouldn’t let this process become stale. Your team needs to address the communication issues regularly and adjust your processes. In case you are looking for a custom communication platform that will meet all your business-specific requirements, contact us. We would be glad to help you establish outstanding team collaboration via reliable and secure software.