8 Tips for Communicating with Remote Teams
In this work-from-home era, many companies are facing a significant adjustment from what they are used to. While there will be need to adapt to new ways of getting things done, most companies will agree that the greatest adjustment they have to face is in communicating with remote teams.
There are a lot of tools that can help make this process much easier, but unless you know how to set them up and use the, the learning curve can be enormous. So, how do you make sure that emails don’t go unanswered and phone calls are always returned.
There are several strategies that you can employ to make your communication with remote employees that much easier. These strategies outlines below will ensure that everyone is productive enough to keep the company moving forward without breaking the bank.
Make Sure Everyone is Prepared for the Challenges Ahead
Adapting to the new work routine is going to be a challenge for everyone, especially if all workers had been in the office. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is make sure that everyone is well prepared to adapt to the new challenges they are about to be presented with. This can include ensuring that everyone working remotely has access to all the necessary tools to facilitate communication.
If there are any difficulties in using the hardware and software needed for effective remote communication, you will need to address the problem right from the beginning, rather than have glitches in the system at a crucial moment.
Other then communication issues, consider other problems that your employees may face when transitioning to a work-from-home plan. Things like procrastination and an effective work-life balance are some of the things you may want to keep in mind.
One of the best ways to stay on top of these problems is to create a policy statement that will guide how remote work will be conducted. With a little guidance, you will be surprised by how well your employees adapt.
Regular Check-ins are Key
Remote working will only be possible if all members of the team check in with each other regularly. With video conferencing tools this is very easy and fast. But you want to make sure that any check-ins are scheduled to ensure that everyone is aware of the meeting date and that their work is completed in time. You should, however also have a provision where someone can call a meeting if there is a pressing concern or a new idea.
But it is equally as important, for productivity purposes to have a way to track daily activities. One of the best ways to do that is to have a daily activity report that each employee is expected to submit at the end of the day. This is an easy way to track the productivity of the whole team.
Use Videos to Communicate
One of the best ways to ensure that everyone on the team is getting the same message is to record a video message that you can then share with the team. A video also gives you the avenue to demonstrate or illustrate a project to the team in a way that all team members will actively engage in.
With a tool like Wondershare DemoCreator, you can create easy screen flow videos that detail several aspects of the video that need work, pointing out what you need done. The tools annotation features allow you to easily emphasize sections of the video you may want your team to pay attention to.
Another great way to use video is to have your remote employees ask questions regarding the project and you can create a simple video clip with the answers. These videos can be priceless since they may even help the next team or remote workers easily make the transition to work from home.
Use Collaborative Software and Communication Technology
Collaborative software and communication technology can be invaluable to a remote team. Rather than use tools like email to share ideas, you can use video conferencing tools like Google Meet for video calls and Slack for messages to bring the team together in one place. This will not just give them the feeling of working in an office setting, but will make it very easy for them to communicate, share ideas, critique their ideas and even start a new project in real time.
There are very many types of collaborative tools in the market. So, when choosing the best begin by first assessing the needs of your team. For example, you don’t need to pay for a video conferencing program that supports 1000 attendees when there are only 10 people on your team.
You should also take the time to demonstrate how these collaborative apps and communication tools work. Here, a screen flow vide might prove very useful.
Create an Online office Culture
This will apply particularly if your office will go remote full time. Determine what your employees will miss the most when out of the office and then try to provide an online version of that. Employees who feel valued or part of a team (even if the team is remote) are far more likely to be productive.
And don’t think that you have to spend a lot on lavish parties to show your employees that they are valued. Something as simple as a team infographic detailing the statistics of what they have achieved in a given month, posted to social media can be an effective motivator. You might even just hold a weekly video conferencing meeting where the employees are not allowed to talk about work.
Encourage the Presentation of Ideas and Pitches to be done Visually
Most people will not engage with a concept or an idea unless there is a visual representation of it. Therefore, one of the best ways to make sure that your employees remain engaged is to encourage them to use visual aids to present their ideas and pitches.
There are a lot of visual media that could be useful in this regard. One of course is video and if a team member can take the time to create a video that explains their idea in great detail to the rest of the team, then the others are far likely to engage and remember the concept more than if they’d just read about it.
Another cool way to use visual media to communicate ideas is to use infographics and slides. A colorful infographic can make even the most boring of statistics sound interesting and appealing.
Set Clear Deadlines and Expectations
As any freelance will tell you, working from home has numerous benefits, among them the ability to set your own work hours. But there is always the danger of procrastination. But as every freelancer who’s had to battle the grip of procrastination will tell you, there is only one way to get rid of it; just start working.
But how do you motivate workers you can’t see to just start working? Well, there is a simple solution to this one as well; set clear deadlines and make sure that they understand what you expect of them. But this will only work if you have a system to check in with them on a daily basis.
You might also want to let them know that you will need them to be accessible to you during working hours. This expectation will keep them accountable and ensures that they will work when they are supposed to.
Encourage Group Discussions and Feedback
To make sure that your remote team feels like a team, you need to encourage them to work together and the best way to do that is through group discussions and feedback. Remote working can be very lonely and productivity will be greatly affected when the team doesn’t feel like a team.
You can encourage this level of teamwork by scheduling video conferences or meetings where the sole purpose is to discuss ideas. Each person can propose a new project or a new way to complete the current project and every team member can be encouraged to share their opinion.
You will also want to encourage your employees to provide honest feedback on some of the tools and processes involved in the project. This honest feedback will help you provide them with the support they need to maintain their work-life balance.
In the beginning, remote working will seem alike an uphill task. But with the right tools and the proper use of these tools, it can be one of the best ways to work. It is our hope that implementing the strategies we have outlined above will prove useful to you and your employees.