How successfully does your team communicate in our remote world? Many companies are finding there are numerous benefits to remote work, but one downside of the change is certainly how often, and how well, we communicate with each other. Gone are the days when you could drop by a colleague’s desk for a quick chat. Instead, many of us work alone and only connect with others through emails and video calls. If your remote team is growing quieter, then try some of these ideas to improve team communication and get everyone back on track.
5 communicate ideas to improve teams
It’s not just about active listening or growing those soft skills. There are a number of other strategies you can try to strengthen your team’s communication process.
Match the message to the channel: When working remotely, you might have several different ways of communicating happening at once. You might have Slack channels running, emails flying, and Zoom meetings dotting your calendar at any given time. With so many ways to communicate at your fingertips, it can be easy to use whatever is at hand to send off your ideas. But try to choose the best method to match your tone and purpose of your communication. A quick sentence might be better off in a Slack channel rather than taking up space in an inbox. A directive with more context might be better in an email. A conversation about work or performance, likewise, is better over Zoom. Choose your type of communication to match your purpose and watch your inbox free-up.
Create a centralized database: With everyone working wherever they might be, it can be hard to compile shared knowledge. Compounding this problem is also the ever-present threat of turnover, especially with the job market heating up. You don’t want to lose both your employees and the knowledge they’ve accumulated about your company at the same time. A centralized database can help lessen the impact of losing a team member and improve the way your team shares information. Create one place where employees can save finished work or track metrics. If everyone knows where to look and where to save, it becomes an easy habit to keep up. Eventually, you’ll have a library of work and company knowledge that the whole team can use for reference.
Learn together: One way to help a team struggling to communicate effectively is to give them a shared language through virtual teambuilding or some L&D. Provide opportunities for your team to learn more about each other and what sort of communication skills each person naturally leverages. Understanding individual differences can help teams become more empathetic and can give them a way to talk about areas where they don’t necessarily align with teammates. Not everyone works the same way, for example. But by talking openly about that and learning how different personality types approach the same tasks, teams can gain a better sense of their colleagues and find new ways to work together.
Turn on your camera: Yes, we’re all getting Zoomed out and yes, sometimes it’s nice to work in your pajamas, but remote teams lack a lot of the connection opportunities that were so simple in the office. We can’t just casually drop in on people anymore and think about the information those interactions used to provide. When you can see the other person, you pick up on their body language. Their facial expressions or use of eye contact can give you clues about the speaker’s emotions or state of mind. There’s a lot we humans glean from nonverbal communication that we are missing in our remote world. So when you can, switch that camera on. It might be easier to leave it off, but seeing someone face-to-face can make an impact.
Try bursts of information: Another thing we are learning about remote communication is often larger, more detailed filled messages get lost in the shuffle. What used to be in-person meetings are now lengthy emails and that can make remote employees lose interest. Instead, try communicating with bursts of information. Keep things brief and to the point and decrease how often you bombard employees with too much detail. It might feel weird at first but this shorter communication style can help remote employees manage all the messages coming their way on any given day and stay on top of the most important information they need to do their jobs. That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for more lengthy communication, but you might want to pair more in-depth emails like that with a video call so employees have a chance to ask questions.
Effective communication in a remote world
Just because we have to work apart doesn’t mean interpersonal communication needs to suffer. We’re living in the digital age and there are endless communication tools at our disposal to make life easier for teams. No matter what form of communication you choose to use, pay attention to your colleagues and use your own listening skills. Try to pick up on not just the spoken words but also the nonverbal signals too to better understand what a teammate is saying. Great teamwork takes time to build, but when everyone has good communication skills, you’ve already won half the battle.