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Effective communication has always been vital to success in the workplace, but it’s even more important now that more teams are remote and work virtually with one another. Virtual communication looks very different than in-person communication, though.
Following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have transitioned to a full or partial work-from-home setup. Whether you’re now at home 100% of the time or part of the time, or you're working with remote teams, there’s a good chance you are doing much, if not all, of your communication virtually.
Follow these helpful tips on how to communicate with a remote team to continue to be successful and promote a positive culture.
Top tips on how to communicate with a remote team
1. Establish communication guidelines.
Create guidelines that outline how and when the team should use communication tools like email, instant messaging and phone/video calls. An example of guidelines to set could include:
- Chat platform: Used for quick exchanges or clarifications.
- Email: Use for communication that needs to be documented and doesn’t require a quick response – sending detailed instructions, assigning work or relaying information that needs a few sentences to explain.
- Phone or video calls: Use for collaborative brainstorming sessions.
- Calls/texts to mobile phone: Use for urgent and emergency situations.
To ensure alignment, document and send these guidelines to your team and go through them via a video call.
2. Be flexible with your communication styles.
While establishing guidelines is important, you should still be adaptable in your communication style. Understand some team members may prefer one way of communicating over another. Ask your associates which method they prefer and do your best to meet their needs.
Most importantly, give a little grace. Effective communication, whether in-person or virtually, takes time and practice.
3. Have frequent meetings.
Before working virtually became a more common option, it was much easier to simply stop by someone’s desk or chat while in passing. But while working remote, it’s easy to get caught up in your work and lose sight of routine meetings.
Schedule frequent one-on-ones and team meetings to ensure consistency in your virtual communication. Make the meetings reoccurring in your associates’ calendars so you never have to worry about not remembering to schedule them.
Having a set time gives everyone the opportunity to stay in contact and allows reassurance and support even from afar.
4. Use video calls instead of phone calls to replace in-person meetings.
Have frequent video team meetings to build better connections and engagement within your team. Within these calls, team members can discuss updates, collaborate on solutions and ask questions to one another.
Video conferencing, when all cameras are on, provides facial expressions and body language, which helps employees understand each other in a better way and helps prevent avoidable conflict. It also promotes effective remote work collaboration.
5. Overcommunicate with your team.
Both managers and their teams should overcommunicate whenever possible to help prevent miscommunication.
Since so much of the communication that goes on within a remote team happens over text, many aspects of human speech are lost in translation, which can result in communication being misinterpreted or misunderstood. Be aware of the impact your message can potentially have. Remember, it’s important to provide more context within every written communication.
Lastly, don’t assume the intent of someone else’s message. If you’re unsure what point someone is trying to get across, it never hurts to ask clarifying, follow-up questions.
6. Resist micromanaging.
Note the difference between overcommunicating and micromanaging. Be sure you’re not micromanaging your associates or peers as they work virtually. Respect their work ethic, time and availability.
If your associates were hard-working and disciplined while working in the office, don't just assume they’re not now that they work from home.