Communication Secrets of Effective Remote Teams
Updated: Apr 22
More than a year ago, many teams went to work remotely out of necessity. Today, it is clear that remote work is here to stay. There are clear benefits, including the elimination of stressful commutes, and the ability to build global teams. However, there are challenges as well. If remote teams want to be successful, those must be solved. One of the primary issues that remote teams face is maintaining effective communication.
The most effective teams have figured out how to maintain communication that is productive, inclusive, and generates great outcomes. Here are some of the actions they are taking to make this happen.
Help Team Members Connect on a Personal Level
Remote teams don’t meet after work for happy hour or hang out in the break room talking about the latest binge-worthy show on Netflix. Because of it, leaders have to take the initiative to help members connect, find shared interests, and become invested in one another enough to be supportive team members.
There are a few things that team leaders can do to accomplish this:
Get remote teams together for virtual team-building games.
Encourage team members to share interests and inspiration.
Assign new team members to a mentor for introducing them to team members, and help them make connections.
Create channels for a casual chat and other communication through Slack / Discord or similar platforms.
Create Guidelines For Appropriate Communication
This is less about sending inappropriate messages, although that’s important to address, and more about setting guidelines regarding which communications methods are appropriate in any given situation. For example, a text message is a great way to send standalone messages, but not to engage in an important exchange with multiple team members. Zoom meetings are great for group discussions and collaboration, but there’s too much overhead involved for brief discussions that can be handled over email.
Remote team managers who want to be sure they catch any problems may fall into the trap of micromanaging. This is counterproductive and frustrating, as it creates one more layer of necessary communication to slow things down.
Start by making goals and objectives clear, as mentioned above. Then, ensure that every worker on the team has been appropriately onboarded. Revisit onboarding processing that may have worked for on-site teams but not necessarily for remote teams. Any new, remote employee should not be considered to be onboarded until they feel comfortable working independently.
Include Live Meetings
Much of digital communication relies solely on the written word. That’s efficient, but it doesn’t do much to build trust. Body language and facial expressions contextualize things. This is why it’s significant to schedule live meetings regularly via video conferencing.
More importantly, use video meetings when teams are first forming. This is when essential connections are made, and workers begin to build relationships with one another.
Find The Right Messaging Technologies
When remote teams are left to cobble together technologies, which are meant for social communication, not project management and collaboration, things suffer. They need mobile tools that are specifically designed for work purposes.
Further, when team members and managers are all using different communication channels, messages tend to get lost. People end up feeling as if they are out of the loop. Worse, there’s no way to ensure that the information being transmitted is secure.
Encourage The Development of Written Communication Skills
Remote team members will almost surely find that they must rely on written communication more than ever. Unfortunately, some may find that their skills in this area are lacking. That’s okay! There are tools available to help employees develop their capabilities. Teams can also use writing and designing tools such as Grammarly and Canva to ensure writing is error-free, and communicate using visuals.
Clarify The Sense of Purpose
Teams that don’t feel a unifying sense of purpose often work against one another. That’s the kind of competitiveness that isn’t productive. That’s why it’s crucial to clarify the team’s purpose for existing, and the mission they are trying to accomplish.