No matter where you’re working, whether you’re in an office or on a beach, bad communication makes it harder to get work done. It’s harmful when a team is sitting next to each other but when team members are working remotely in different neighborhoods, cities, or time zones, bad communication can do even more damage. Many teams are moving to remote work but not updating their communication styles and expectations. Without adjustments, communication can become innefective, causing stress, wasted time, and make it harder for teams to get work done.
Knowing the “do’s” and “don’ts” of good communication in remote work is key to successfully adapting to changes in the workplace. Avoiding the “don’ts” and implementing the “do’s” helps your team collaborate easier and use communication strategies that work.
Shift your workstyle to something that works
The way you get work done and communicate changes when doing it remotely. Don't get stuck in old habits and move to workflows that are more fitting for remote environments.
Don’t: Work the same way that you did in the office. With remote work, you can’t always expect a direct answer or quick review from a team member. With added flexibility in your work schedule, you can optimize your schedule to best fit your projects, collaborators, and personal life. Since remote work lets you work at your own pace, schedule your day so you can get the most out of it.
Do: Share relevant information and be transparent. Remote work environments can be isolating so remember to be upfront about your feelings, workload, and experiences with team members. Being transparent can give everyone a better understanding of your workday.
Sharing information with your team
Nobody likes never-ending searches for important information or constantly having to reach out to team members to stay informed. Relevant updates, details and decisions can be shared in more effective ways that keep everyone involved and up to date.
Don’t: Over-rely on emails for communication. Long and messy email threads can get confusing quickly. Big email chains can also make it harder to document information, establish next steps, and include new people. When important details are kept in email inboxes, they’re usually not organized and they’re far less accessible than they would be in shared documentation.
Do: Document as much as you can. Reliable and thorough documentation helps everyone stay in the loop. Team members and external partners can check the progress of projects or reference information without needing to be in touch all the time. When documentation is thorough, you can make sure that processes are in place for a range of different scenarios. Team members will also be able to find what they need when they need it.
Setting effective virtual meetings
Meetings should be saved for the conversations that matter most. Being fatigued by never-ending Zoom meetings doesn't do your teams' productivity any good.
Don’t: Schedule too many meetings. Virtual meetings, like their face-to-face counterparts, are time-consuming and unproductive when there are too many. Find other ways to keep other team members in the loop that don’t require them to spend valuable time in front of cameras.
Do: Set goals for meetings. Start meetings by outlining the goals that the meeting should achieve. Examples of meeting goals could be making a decision after a discussion or getting feedback on a project. If you have a hard time coming up with goals for your meetings, you might have to reevaluate if that meeting is needed or not.
Trust is the foundation to effective remote work
Working remotely does not mean that nothing is getting done. Invasive surveillance strategies, micromanagement and continuous check-ups do your communication more harm than good.
Don’t: Bombard team members with constant messages. Messaging can be a quick way to get answers, but you should use more asynchronous methods of communication and collaboration. Features and tools like task boards, notes, or files can be easy ways to update your team on the latest details and changes while allowing people to look into them when they have time.
Do: Trust your team. To set expectations, note what goals you want to achieve and what projects you want to complete in a set time frame. Make sure that your team is empowered with tools that make it easier to do their work.
With remote work tools, you can track output (like tasks completed) as a metric instead of the number of hours worked. You can keep an eye on progress and get helpful high-level overviews without micromanaging team members.
Culture at the forefront of your communication
There are plenty of ways to encourage a healthy company culture, even when working remotely. While you might not see each other face-to-face there are still a lot of other ways to get in touch with, and stay connected to your team.
Don’t: Forget about the importance of good work culture. Working remotely doesn’t mean that your team can’t get to know each other. Find activities that connect team members, no matter where they are. These activities should give team members a chance to get to know each other better. Both asynchronous and synchronous ways of communication can be valuable for creating a supportive work culture.
Do: Celebrate victories. To help your team grow and stay engaged, make sure your team gets recognition for a job well done! Giving feedback is key to maintaining a supportive environment and will give you a chance to hear your team members’ thoughts and reactions.
Effective communication is important with remote work since it requires an adjustment from traditional communication styles that were used in office settings. When you keep these “do’s” and “don’ts” in mind, you and your team can cut down on stress, misunderstandings, and inefficient practices. That way, your communication can focus on what matters and boosts your productivity instead of bogging you down.