Effective communication in remote teams
In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, the best contribution that everyone not in the frontlines can make is to simply stay at home. Companies have already transitioned their operations from traditional offices to home-based workforces wherever possible.
Communication plays an integral part in effective teams especially now that we have many employees working remotely and coworkers are not able to interact face-to-face. Now, more than ever, clear and effective communication is essential to maintain the workflow and productivity (and to keep each other sane). Here are some tips on how you can improve communication for our new remote teams.
Ensure consistent communication
With all the available apps and platforms for communication out there, it can get confusing if your personal messages get mixed up with work related communications. Work communications should only go through approved channels, whether business messaging apps or work email, for better collaboration. This will also ensure that any information shared is secure and appropriate for business. Please ensure that messages are not mixed with personal communications to avoid the potential for embarrassment, even though the photos of your children’s birthday party may be incredibly cute.
Managers will provide their teams with clear guidelines regarding important things that they need to communicate. This can be start and end of shift reports to check how productive and engaged a team member is or weekly accomplishment reports to check if teams are still meeting goals. These guidelines don’t need to be complicated; they simply need to clarify communication expectations from all employees. Remember, managers aren’t necessarily able to walk past and have a casual chat about work anymore, so we all need to come up with new ways to connect.
Regular Video Calls
It’s difficult enough to be stuck at home but it becomes infinitely harder when we are deprived of human connection. It’s really important to schedule regular check ins and meetings through video using Zoom or Skype. Aside from encouraging team interaction and collaboration, these calls can also be used to catch up and to support each other through this difficult time.
Don’t forget to check your video background before you come on the call. It can be distracting for others if the kids are bouncing crazily on a bed behind you during the call, although some level of home/work blending is both normal and expected at the current time.
Show availability and status
It’s a good practice to inform your team about what’s going on and what’s keeping you busy. This keeps everyone on the loop in the absence of personal interactions. Responding promptly will also keep continuous workflow and better engagement. Showing your status as available, and responding quickly to calls and emails as if you were in the office builds trust between teams and managers, reassuring everyone that we still have a productive and fully engaged workforce.
Stay in Touch
Keeping in touch with the team is critical. It’s hard to know whether a team member is focused or becoming disengaged due to the distance or time that separate team members. A simple greeting or a bit of extra communication adds motivation, develops trust and creates harmony in remote teams. If you would normally tell your team-mates that you are grabbing a coffee or heading out to lunch, please continue this in your remote environment.
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