Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, remote working has become the new normal. And even though the end of the pandemic is in sight and workers are now safe to return to the office in most areas, a large number of employers are happy for their employees to continue to work from home since it has been proven to improve productivity, employee satisfaction, staff turnover and more. However, one of the issues that remote employees and workers face is struggling to communicate with one another when they are no longer sharing an office. Whether you’re an employer or an employee working remotely, these tips can help with improving communication between remote teams.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives
Remote working can sometimes lead to difficulties when it comes to managing projects, setting tasks, and tracking progress. Without proper guidance and task allocation, virtual employees may become confused. To work well together, your virtual workforce needs clear direction and to be able to understand the targets that they are working together. Mindmap software can be an ideal way to do this, since it’s easy to use them to communicate ideas, goals, objectives and more in a visual way that can easily be accessed online.
Be Clear and Concise
One of the main challenges of remote work is the lack of face-to-face communication with team members. Most of the time, managers will prefer talking to employees in person since this can help to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. But this might not always be possible with a virtual workplace. In addition to using video calls for face-to-face conversations, it’s important to maintain clear, concise communication when using instant messaging or email.
It can be tough to make sure that your team is on top of their tasks when you’re not in the same room as them, but be careful that this does not lead to micromanaging. Avoid checking up on your employees too often. Checking in to see how they are doing every once in a while is fine, but calling or messaging all the time, or wanting to know what they’re doing if they went offline for less than a minute, will demoralize your team and give them the impression that you’re trying to control everything they do.
Hold Regular Meetings
The good news is that there are lots of virtual meeting software programs now available that will allow you and your team to get together on a regular basis while working remotely. Getting remote employees together can sometimes be challenging, but it’s worth setting up a short morning meeting or regular, longer weekly meetings where everybody can be updated and any concerns, questions or ideas can be discussed among the team. Live meetings will help relationships develop and make it easier for new remote employees to settle in as part of the team.
Provide Communications Software
For employees who work from home, it’s no longer quite as easy as talking at their desks or chatting at the water cooler. As an employer, it’s important to try and make it as easy as possible for your employees to connect and communicate with one another. Using tools like Slack or Google Hangouts is a good idea since this provides employees with a virtual space where they can communicate with anybody, just like they would while in the office. Not only will this encourage better teamwork by ensuring that employees can easily get in touch no matter where they are, but it can help to keep the morale of the virtual workplace high as employees benefit from socializing and catching up with their co-workers.
Stick to a Schedule
While flexibility is key for successfully working at home in many situations, and you will want to avoid micromanaging your employees’ time, you can improve communication by clearly outlining work hours and having everybody stick to a similar work schedule. By doing this, you can ensure that team members are going to be available at the same time. While this can be tricky if people are working in different time-zones, you can get around it by placing employees in the same or similar time zones into teams together wherever possible, and asking them to be available and online at similar times. If you have employees based around the world, it might be useful to create a cloud-based spreadsheet or document that employees can easily open up to see a list of employees and what times they will be available to contact. This will help avoid bottlenecks and improve communication.
Consider Some Office Visits
If most of your employees work locally and you are not shutting down your office space, some occasional office visits are a good idea for improving communication and giving the team that chance to get together. When working remotely for a long period of time, it can be easy for some employees to become isolated and disconnected from everybody else at work, which could lead to problems for both them and you. Holding a meeting in the office just once a month can give your extraverted employees something to look forward to and provide an opportunity for employees to catch-up in person and go over topics that might be harder to discuss virtually.
Arrange Team Building Activities
Team building activities are great for improving teamwork and communication in the workplace, and the best part is that they can be done either in-person or virtually. A team building day could be something that you go all out for; taking the team to an in-person event or activity like paintballing could be a lot of fun and a chance for everybody to get away from their desks to do something that requires team work but isn’t related to the workplace. For virtual options, you could consider quizzes where employees are required to get into teams and work together, for example.
With more and more employers adapting to a remote workforce, maintaining good communication can be one of the biggest challenges to face.