Communication is key. It’s also a skill that needs to be understood. And in a corporate environment, we rarely take the time to achieve that. Not because we are not aware of its importance. It happens that we are all somehow convinced that we have it figured out when truth is, we can all think of countless examples of miscommunication at work. Today, we are looking at the art of communication in a remote еnvironment and ways to improve it. Surely, lack of communication has caused many troubles in the traditional office as well. Therefore, it’s even more important to consider ways to enhance it when managing your remote team.
Learn to listen
Listening is actually a skill in its own right. Whenever in a work meeting we are mostly focused on getting our point across. We sometimes forget that that’s what everybody in the conversation is trying to achieve. Listening carefully and acknowledging what the other person is saying creates a bond and a sense of mutual understanding and reliability between colleagues. The more a person feels heard the more motivated they are. And on the contrary, feeling voiceless can lead to frustration.
When you’re listening, it’s not just the content that’s important. Make sure to pay attention to the speaker’s emotions, tone of voice and body language. Often, that’s where the true meaning lies.
To be sure that you’ve understood correctly it’s always a good idea to make a summary in your own words of what you’ve just heard.
Using visuals when presenting your ideas has always been the way to go if you want to provide your colleagues with easy to digest information or if you want to get a quick and hassle-free approval for a particular action. In a remote setting visuals are crucial as your presence is limited.
Being visual is your most important tool when working remotely. Start off by always turning your camera on when talking to your colleagues. Sounds simple but it makes all the difference in the world. Make sure to also get visual when it comes to presenting your ideas. When doing presentations in person you have a wide pool of tools that work to your benefit – your physical presence, your charisma, your voice, etc. All of that is diminished when done entirely through technology. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest some time in creating catchy visual presentations to get your ideas across. Diagrams, beautifully-designed slides and animation are a must. Try not to use too much text and always spice things up with colourful visuals. In a digital world full of distractions our attention span is much more limited and visuals are there to keep us interested.
Set clear expectations
Distractions and procrastination are the two biggest enemies of remote work. To avoid them you’ll need to set deadlines and expectations. Make sure to check regularly if they are met.
Another important aspect of staying accountable is to always be approachable during office hours – picking up your phone, being online and actively using the company’s communication channels. You can consider introducing a checklist for your team to refer to at all times.
Encouraging time off is also important when establishing those guidelines. When working remotely sometimes people fall into the “working all hours” trap without even realizing it. Having a clear separation between work and time-off is more important than ever. Everybody needs to relax and get their mind off their work.
Introduce communication guidelines
Planning your communication is essential. Think about what you want to say, how and when to deliver it. This can lead to over communication with your team which is not a bad thing. Make sure to help them out as well by creating a clear communication policy that they can easily follow. Consider indicating what type of communication is done via email and what via other channels. Should messages be sent only during working hours? Knowing how to navigate in the workspace whether remote or not, saves time and nerves. Your team will appreciate it.
The lack of human communication is one of the biggest challenges we all face when working remotely. Starting a conversation or a video call with a simple “good morning” or “hey, how are you doing?” and chatting over your lunch or coffee break makes things feel a little less distant.
Use the right tools
Using a messaging system that would replace the office small talk is a great idea. Sure, you can also use email but it’s questionable whether your colleagues want to receive even more emails. A messaging system shortens the distance between remote workers and allows for a quick and efficient communication.
We can be social online. Introducing a variety of online events such as discussions, quizzes and other games or just a simple online coffee break are all ways to bring the casual office online. Actually, that’s exactly what we’ve done at Motion Software. Creating personal connections through fun is so helpful in getting to know how to approach your colleagues.