The global pandemic has forced the implementation of multiple changes into usual workflows, as many people have switched to remote working. Even after a whole year of countless emails, chats, and virtual meetings, you can still find the communication gaps or new tools your projects can benefit from.
Knowing how to communicate efficiently in a completely online environment allows you to prevent as many confusions as possible, create long-term business plans, and build the company’s culture together. Below, you will find several essential tips to establish clear and effective communication and smooth workflow while working remotely.
Create a Unified Communication System
When switching to a remote work mode, it is crucial to identify the main communication channels and their primary purposes to manage a distributed team effectively.
First of all, pick platforms for updating daily tasks (like Trello or Notion), instant messaging (such as chats in Slack or Microsoft Teams), and sharing the company’s milestones. This will allow your remote team to establish smooth communication during working hours and have all the necessary tools at hand.
Secondly, ensure that long messages with attachments are sent via email and use video conferencing platforms for complex group discussions. Another excellent solution for effective communication is installing a hosted PBX for secure phone calls within the company, independently from remote workers’ locations.
Choosing different means for different types of messages will help distinguish urgent tasks from those that can wait. Create a comprehensive tutorial or conduct workshops on using various tools to ensure your employees understand the designated purposes. Make sure to include guidelines for an appropriate communication style and determine how quickly your coworkers should respond to urgent messages.
Such a complex approach will allow remote teams to exclude most of the misunderstandings and enhance their productivity.
Allocate Enough Time for Virtual Meetings
Audio and video conferencing have become one of the most irritating and hated elements of remote working, but completely neglecting them would be a mistake.
One-on-one sessions remain one of the most effective ways to get to know your remote team members, their personal contributions to the project, and help determine individual issues, struggles, and motivations. It is an excellent tool to build trust and rapport with an employee and set expectations for their personal development within the company.
It is crucial to create a clear agenda for communicating with large groups via conference calls and share it with participants before the call starts. Sticking to the plan will ensure that remote employees join a virtual meeting prepared and facilitate the fruitful discussion.
Switching to remote work requires some changes in the employee performance metrics. The natural desire to control every step of working on a project when you cannot be its direct participant is entirely understandable. However, micromanagement has much more chances to harm your coworkers’ productivity and motivation, than encourage them.
Instead of checking on your colleagues multiple times throughout the workday, switch the focus from the working process itself to objectives you have set for them. This will allow you to show that you trust your employees to manage their time, and support their flexibility.
However, encourage your coworkers to be proactive if they need your help. Thus, they will have the opportunity to improve their communication skills, feel responsible for their work-related decisions, and avoid misunderstandings or missed deadlines.
Collect Feedback Efficiently
Getting constructive feedback from your employees allows establishing clear and open communication between managers, team leaders, and team members, no matter if they work from home or at the office. Online survey platforms enable collecting feedback anonymously and asking your employees for detailed answers, which is extremely helpful.
Thus, you will be able to get a clear picture of the current state of communication (and other aspects if required) within your company, and even multiple suggestions on how to improve it! Make sure to ask your coworkers to provide examples of both positive and negative communications and how they feel about them.
To use this feedback effectively, make sure that each example gets a response or is considered, when introducing changes into communication tools, channels, or style. Making surveys a regular practice is one of the most beneficial ways to improve communications, when most team members work remotely.
Work from home requires discipline and introducing new rules to a working process, but on the contrary, brings more flexibility and independence to the overall performance. However, in order to adjust to the new normal and even use it to your advantage, it is crucial to establish effective communication in your digital work environment.