Chapter 5: How to Communicate Effectively With Your Remote Employees

Chapter 5: How to Communicate Effectively With Your Remote Employees

As we’ve made clear in previous sections, remote work requires communication to get anywhere. Without it, your team — and your company — will simply fall apart.

Learning How to Communicate Effectively Is Necessary for Success

According to research done by Capterra, project management software can improve communication in the workplace by 52%. In fact, aside from the organization and scheduling support, communication tools are the most important part of any project management system.

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There are two things to take away from this. First: That’s exactly why you need a project management system. Second: Just because the tools exist, doesn’t mean you will use them efficiently.

Tips for Effective Communication

The communication that happens between remote workers is different than that of co-local ones. Remote employees have a greater opportunity to feel disconnected, because they are so distanced. In addition, it’s easier to become robotic, discussing only work-related topics.

This can be an issue, since it may harm the culture you’ve built for your team, and it strengthens the idea that each worker is completely alone. Yes, you want individuals on your team to be autonomous, self-managing and accountable, but you will also need them to work collaboratively at times with other members.

A communication failure can cause a breakdown — not only in your production line, but also in the relationships your employees have built.

Here are some quick tips to keep that from happening:

  • Be wary of sending messages with an abrasive or emotionally charged tone. If something can be taken the wrong way, you might consider a re-write.
  • Use the tools at your disposal to reach out and communicate effectively through any means necessary, including personal chats, video calls, email and more.
  • Stay in touch and have an interest in your employees’ lives outside of work.
  • Be transparent by sharing company happenings with your crew. You can do this via newsletters, internal forums, blogs and more.
  • Always make it absolutely clear what is expected of your team. Don’t leave it up to interpretation.
  • Be available whenever you can, even if you travel a lot.
  • Give feedback and try to stay positive and encouraging.
  • Never be opposed to answering questions or listening to concerns, no matter how trivial they may seem.
  • Keep an eye on your team’s schedule, and try to reach out to members who may be working less or running into scheduling conflicts.

Introduce Social Interactions and Extracurricular Communication Tools

The communication tools that come bundled with remote project management systems are great for work-related discussions, but they’re not always the best for fun and spunky social interactions.

You might consider adopting an extracurricular option. This can be something like a dedicated IRC channel for your team, a Teamspeak or Vent server for gaming or even a group chat in Hangouts. Just find something that encourages communication between team members about topics that don’t involve work.

Real-time chatting tools are excellent for this sort of thing, and they can be extremely handy when you need to ask a question or get advice in a timely manner.

Tools to Boost Communication

If you’re looking for a solid list of tools to help build that communication rapport you need so badly, look no further than the ones below:

  • Skype
  • Google Chat or Hangouts
  • Hipchat
  • Basecamp
  • Glip
  • Trello
  • Screenhero
  • Kanbanize
  • Asana
  • Groove
  • Yammer
  • Mattermost
  • iDoneThis
  • Google Drive
  • GoToMeeting
  • Slack

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Some of these rapport-building tools may offer integration with work tools you already have in place. When picking a tool, check to see if that is a possibility.

Conclusion

The takeaway here is that remote teams can absolutely be more efficient and productive than co-local teams, when things are done right. They also have the potential to go horribly wrong.

As company owner or manager, it’s your job to ensure the team you put together communicates effectively and builds a strong relationship, even across continents. Without these things, and without the proper tools like a project management system and the correct people for the job, nothing will get completed.

You need a project management system. You need employees that exhibit the right traits and characteristics. You need communication tools. And last, but certainly not least, you need to build a distinct culture, because it’s what keeps everyone in line while you’re away and helps them stay happy and focused.

Simply put, these elements are the glue that holds remote teams together, and you want to be sure that adhesive doesn’t fade away.

 

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Table Of Contents


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