Remote work is the way of the future. During its recent surge in popularity, remote employees saw increased productivity at startlingly high levels–in some cases, an entire added day of labor.
But for all its power and potential, remote work comes with its share of challenges. Communication is more crucial than ever to help a remote team succeed. Here are a few essential best practices to lay the groundwork for clear communication channels and work in sync across any distance.
Communication is a fundamental pillar in every aspect of business, and how a remote team communicates will be different than a co-located team. As you build a cohesive remote team, keep these tips in mind.
If some of your team members aren’t familiar with remote work, you may need to train them on new communication habits. Even workers accustomed to working remotely will have to learn new tools and systems.
Be patient and supportive during this time, but also be firm with your reminders. Try to make yourself available to meet with employees and answer questions. Even though everyone is physically far apart, they should feel like part of a team.
Transparency builds trust, trust builds relationships, and relationships build teamwork. And with teamwork, your company can achieve any goal you set your mind to.
From the start, promote honesty and transparency. Be clear about what you want from your team members and what you’re willing to offer in exchange for their work. This means that you need to openly share all the details about your business with your remote workers—your goals, vision, budget, and deadlines—so that they know exactly what they’re working for and what they should expect from you in return.
If there are issues along the way, a culture of transparency encourages team members to speak openly and share without fear of reprisal. Invite your team to share their honest thoughts so you can catch and fix potential snags early on in a project.
As part of this, encourage your team to ask questions. Asking questions is vital in a remote team setting, but it can be intimidating if you don’t know the person well or are unsure how they will respond. Asking questions and getting answers helps everyone learn and grow, especially those newer to the team.
Trust and transparency go hand in hand. Another way to build a culture of openness and honesty is to show that you trust your team.
Unlike co-located teams, a manager can’t look over an employee’s shoulder to make sure they’re working. One common mistake that remote managers make is micromanaging or monitoring every moment of their team’s day to make up for that.
No one likes to be micromanaged. Micromanaging demonstrates a lack of trust in the team, hurting team morale and making employees feel less invested in the company. Over time, it will lead to costly turnover.
Trust is a crucial aspect of remote work. While your employees need to complete their tasks, focus on the work completed rather than the precise number of minutes they sat at their desks.
One of the most common reasons companies hesitate to adopt a remote workforce is the concern that it will affect company culture. While it’s true that you can’t bump into co-workers in the hall for a quick, friendly chat, you can still build relationships in a remote team.
Try to adopt some fun into your team’s digital communication. Fun transforms something ordinary into something fascinating. It transforms fear into enthusiasm. It helps us get to know our co-workers beyond a name and profile picture.
Here are a few ideas to try out:
Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” be authentic with your team.
Regularly check in with your team members to ensure they’re on track with their tasks, answer questions, and provide feedback. Many managers do this with a weekly 15-minute 1:1 meeting. These meetings ensure that everyone is on the same page and keeps your business running smoothly.
Make sure your team has everything they need to stay in sync with their co-workers, no matter the distance. Some standard tools include:
Want to go above and beyond in supporting your employee’s health and happiness? Offer to comp employee gym memberships, public transportation cards, or co-working space fees.
Meetings are essential for a remote team, but they can waste time. Below are a few tips to ensure that your meetings are efficient:
With busy schedules and time zone differences, sometimes coordinating a time to meet up remotely is simply too difficult. Ask yourself if a synchronous meeting is necessary. Sometimes it may be, but other times it may be best to rely on asynchronous communication.
You’re already familiar with email as a form of asynchronous communication. Often when you send an email, you’ll receive a reply hours or days later. Communication between you and your recipient isn’t happening at the same time.
Instead of explaining a problem or introducing a concept in real-time, you can record your screen and voice to capture it in a video using a tool like CloudApp. From there, simply share the link with your team so they can review the video in their own time.
This lets them access the information when it’s most convenient or relevant to them, collect their ideas, and put together a thought-out response. It also gives everyone a shared resource if they need to refer back to the instructions or issue introduced in the video.