Communication Best Practices While Working Remote
Distributed and remote working are gradually becoming a worldwide practice. The corporations that implement remote working are increasing in number, and why not, it is the best way to expand your business. We live in an era where more employees are in long-distance relationships with their offices.
So it is obvious that proper communication plays a vital role here. ‘Telecommuting,’ ‘work from home,’ and ‘remote working’ all mean, working outside a traditional office environment.
The advent of digital technologies and team sharing tools allows for greater versatility in communication and project management.
It also enables companies to recruit the most experienced and skilled workers from around the world.
Although this new system has some significant benefits, however, there are some challenges for distributed teams – especially on the communication side.
It is not always easy to work across different time zones and close the cultural gaps and to establish positive ties to distant citizens.
This guide is to help you know more details about remote work and what are the best ways to communicate to build a strong remote workforce.
It will help you to understand the most effective ways of communicating and why you should carry it out. There is also a list of communication tools to stay connected with your remote teams.
This is the checklist that we are going to follow:
- What is Communication in a Corporation?
- What is The Role of Communication in Remote Working?
- What are The Best Communication Practices While Working Remote?
- Set Clear Communication Expectation and Goals
- Keep a Set Schedule To Communicate and Regular Face-timing.
- Use The Correct and Consistent Communicating Tool
- Use a Project Management Tool
- Centralize Shared Information
- Feedback and Discussion
- Minimize Disturbance and Miscommunication
- Individual priority
- Team bonding
What is Communication in a Corporation?
Through business communication, we share knowledge to support the objectives, goals, priorities, and activities of an enterprise, as well as how to maximize income within the business.
All the tasks done at work involve some form of communication. We interact constantly in various ways (e.g., writing, speaking), through different channels (e.g., email, Skype, What’s App Messenger), and at different rates (e.g., chitchat, operational, reflective, strategic).
Communication is affected by various subtle factors, such as the backgrounds and languages of the participants and also whether they are introverted or extroverted.
What is The Role of Communication in Remote Working?
A typical traditional workplace involves: Staffs coming in well dressed, cubicles and desks, conference room, coffee break, common meetings taking place, formulating plans around a whiteboard, peeking up heads to ask a fast question, working out a tricky issue at lunchtime, chatting in the breakroom, and several small ways colleagues connect and communicate.
Remote working, however, is a completely different setup. Your coworkers are spread in different cities or countries, they may speak a different language, they live in a different timezone.
As a result of this, communication in the proper manner and style is very important.
Communication is an integral part of any company, whether you are on a remote team or operating in a typical office. Communication glitches are one of the main problems when dealing with remote teams.
Web development teams, especially those who rely heavily on customer information for their projects, need the most reliable and efficient tools for communicating. Web development is a dynamic process requiring direct and consistent contact with any individual member.
Customers must communicate their project specifications and track progress accordingly. Boss and customer will continuously update, report roadblocks, and naturally, ask for support and work updates.
For example, graphic designers, content writers, or even concert-based remote employees will easily be able to deal with work via email or other social applications by themselves.
However, communication is very difficult for remote engineers, a representative of human resources, or some other form of work in which contact is an integral part of the job description.
In order to work remotely, workers must do their part by constantly reporting to their supervisors with the work they are doing and keeping them up-to-date.
Team members should know the best way to exchange information with their superiors.
Keeping that in mind our next question arises.
What are The Best Communication Practices While Working Remote?
In general for remote working, the first best practice that should be taken into consideration for management is how staff should interact. Messages should be targeted and descriptive and not generic; all messages should be of one type.
Clear communication is a key element in a remote team environment. The establishment of exact communication processes and standards would enhance the efficiency of the team.
Below are some hacks that you should follow to practice smooth communication.
1. Set Clear Communication Expectation and Goals
When you’re working with a team of people physically within a company, the first thing you’re going to do at the start of every campaign is to set the terms and objectives so that everyone is on the same page.
This is also the same case for remote workers but the communication strategy needs to be more proper.
First of all, create the conditions for your remote workers and set contact guidelines. Speak to them about calls they have to be on, how soon they should respond to emails, etc.
An organized plan will eliminate potential issues along the way.
Setting goals and expectations makes you and your team more organized. This is especially important when working with a remote team.
Keep track of work to be done and follow clear protocols that all team members know and have access to.
Where possible, make it simple, ordered, and transparent. Less confusion and clear orders and protocols would result in improved coordination within the dispersed team.
2. Keep a Set Schedule To Communicate and Regular Face-timing
Fix a consistent schedule to communicate and do the regular meeting at the same exact time every day. Keeping in mind the time zone of the team member.
This would be a huge help for your colleagues as they’ll know when you’re free, so they’ll be more likely to reach out on time. Therefore, it will also help you build a better work-life balance, as after-hours messages are less likely to be answered.
Although interacting across messaging apps is fantastic, when working in a dispersed or offshore team, it is always important to get some “facetime” – even if that facetime is also digital.
Watching someone’s face is something optimistic and impactful and video chats can be just as successful as face to face meetings. Facetime also helps the team communicate and develop greater unity and confidence, which in effect increases overall communication performance.
Whenever possible, find the time when all parts of the team (on-site and offshore) are available. It’s important to have a time where all team members are logging in at once, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.
Make sure this time span is well-communicated, and always log in when you are expected to do so. It helps all team members to know when they’re going to have a chance for a live chat and sets standards as to when synchronous interactions can occur.
3. Use The Correct and Consistent Communicating Tool
It can be daunting and frustrating to have so many choices on communication technologies.
Ensure that you and your remote workers all use the same software suite and know the tools assigned function – particularly when they work together on projects.
Moreover, the time, resources, and energy is taken to get the tools working together would be worth the investment.
Most modern communication platforms provide various integrations so that resources can be easily accessed from one location.
It’s not unusual to be able to access your file storage or connect with a ticket right from your chat application.
You can also be able to use tracking systems to post reports on public media so that the whole team is immediately aware of any problems. The more integrated the resources are, the simpler and more efficient the communication will be.
When working across geographical distances, use technologies to promote collaboration, exchange project progress, and updates, and communicate. Some apps allow you to comment and keep a record of all content, which ensures that it is searchable, so it’s simple to go back to the link to previous comments.
It is especially beneficial when different members of the team are working at various times or reporting hours in different time zones.
Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts Meet are the most widely used team collaboration tools.
Based on your particular business needs and activities, resources that can also be helpful include Twist, Zoom, and UberConference.
4. Use a Project Management Tool
Managers are worried about the quality of their remote reports. After all, not being able to pop by someone’s office for a fast update introduces a layer of complexity to project management.
Fortunately, there are tried-and-tested methods for monitoring progress and fostering transparency when facetime is not an option.
Some of the common choices to check out include Trello and Asana. Also, some project management systems like Hibox have chat functionality so be sure to assess how they fit with, or even substitute, existing communication methods. You don’t want to confuse the team with too many forms of communication.
This may be a wiki, shared drive, or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform; but whatever you want to use, make sure everyone has access to it and keep it up to date.
Get comfortable with versioning documents rather than making several copies, so there’s no misunderstanding as to which version is final.
5. Centralize Shared Information
Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive teams need to pick and stick to a cloud storage solution. A common obstacle to accessing information exists when some people store files on Google Drive and other people store files on Dropbox, and everyone searches through both to find out what they need. Alternatively, centralize information in a single place.
The value of supporting real-time communication among teammates is very important. A chat that prioritizes shared channels over individual direct messages is preferred because, by default, it gives all employees equal access to the subject information rather than requiring users to remember to share with the group.
6. Feedback and Discussion
Occasionally, if a remote employee is very busy while talking to you over calls, they prefer to decide in a hurry and just get the conversation done.
This might create a communication gap and often results in confusion. It is normal if you’re interacting with someone on the other side of the planet, and when they’re winding down for the night, you’re just beginning your day.
However, it is important that you promote and make it easy for your remote workers to ask questions, so they have a full understanding of all that’s going on. This further minimizes the space for error in the project.
When it comes to interacting with people of different backgrounds or cultures, it can often be difficult to find a middle ground right away. Asking questions is a good way to learn more about each other, including the backgrounds, interests, and specifics of the working environment.
7. Minimize Disturbance and Miscommunication
Operating from home or elsewhere in the world can be a lifesaver, and it can be incredibly successful, but there is also a chance of interruptions that might exacerbate a worker’s workflow problems.
Some of these interruptions are inevitable, but you don’t want to be the cause of the worst. Unless you are mindful of the working schedule of your remote employee, as you should be, seek to stop texting them at these periods so that they can concentrate on what they’re doing.
If you need to reach an employee in a case of an emergency, certainly you can do so, but try to reserve these contacts for real emergencies, not just when you’re looking for an update on the project.
Although it is impossible to fully prevent miscommunication in the company, many issues can be avoided if you are aware of the common mistakes. Pay particular attention to language, sentences, spelling, and sound. When you think verbal communication would be better than written, pick up your phone or arrange a short video call.
8. Individual priority
Many managers regularly schedule one-on-one reports. Typically, the purpose of these meetings is to check on current projects and ensure that plans are moving in the right direction.
The boss can also use these sessions as an opportunity to speak about the company’s professional objectives as a kind of training and warming up session.
Many supervisors plan one-on-one meetings on a daily basis. In general, these meetings are intended to track current initiatives and ensure that plans progress in the right direction.
The manager can also use these sessions to chat as a kind of mini- and coaching session about the company’s professional goals.
To ensure everyone is on the same page, it’s necessary to check in with your remote workers. They would enjoy the ability to give and receive input on their work whether it is a weekly call or video conference.
You may also propose holding monthly or semi-annual personal meetings depending on how far away your remote employees live.
9. Team bonding
You can still have that coffee and water-filter conversation.
Idle chat can be beneficial. Time spent speaking about your pets or the upcoming holidays with your teammates is no waste of time. It’s a good team bonding project.
You may find that you have more in common with your colleagues which may encourage better working relationships. Contact points may help you function more efficiently as a team.
Make sure all team members are involved in important decisions or events. However, if an offshore team can not interact in person, it helps everyone to feel included in the process and thus more reliable.
It doesn’t mean they’re not there because the team doesn’t sit beside you! When everyone is respected, they are more likely to interact and the entire community is more benefited.
To conclude these are some of the communication practices that CEO, managers, and the team members can follow in order to successfully work remotely.
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