How to improve communication with your remote work team

Email inbox full, WhatsApp notifications pending to be checked, video call coming in, Zoom meeting in 5 minutes. Where to start? Before collapsing, start by organizing and optimizing communication with your remote work team.

Remote work offers great advantages but also great challenges. You know that, don’t you? One of your challenges is to achieve fluidity and effectiveness in communication. By defining guidelines, reaching agreements, and choosing the right tools, you can make a difference, increase productivity and move projects forward more effectively. 

Of course, there will be chaotic days (we’ve all had them!) when things will get out of control, and even the best-structured system won’t be able to help you. However, if you minimize day-to-day complications in your work routine and dynamics, those moments of crisis will be easier to manage.

Ideas to improve communication with your remote work team

Timely, clear, and effective communication is the basis of any relationship, even work ones. Having agreed-upon and publicly known rules or guidelines among all employees will help them work better in these environments. Take note of the following ideas, incorporate them into your routines and socialize them with your team to find the dynamics that work best for them.

1. Use technological support tools

It seems obvious since it is a virtual environment; however, saturating email or WhatsApp is a common bad practice. That’s why many of us have ever been presented with the annoying situation of finding the inbox full of messages and having to “guess” what is urgent, informative, or important.

Undoubtedly, email is an indispensable tool, and it is not a question of eliminating it but of optimizing it. This can be achieved with the help of other technological tools. The invitation is to explore and diversify communication channels with your remote team.

For example, a project management tool can be useful for tracking, sending updates, notifying progress, and more. Two of the most user-friendly ones are Asana and Trello. You can also consider using instant messaging or other collaborative work systems.

How do you know which one to use? Well, you must be clear about the type of work you develop and find the advantages of each tool to identify the best for your team. Remember, only some things work for everyone. And sometimes, even a shared document in Google Docs can be a simple and effective solution.

2. Assign a purpose to each channel

In the first point, we recommend having more than one communication tool. Now, give each channel a purpose to ensure a good flow of information, timely responses, and productivity.

All collaborators must agree and know the rules of use. Here are some examples:

Project management tools to assign tasks, know the status of each activity, control progress and delivery dates, or other associated issues.

Chats and instant messaging systems for quick reports, daily greetings, and networking among colleagues. And remember, you don’t have to be afraid to remind your colleagues of a task because you’re not asking: “type my essay free” or “do my report for me.” You’re just reminding the team to do their job.

3. Be clear, concise, and consistent

Keep in mind that communication is not made by the tools but by the people behind them. Therefore, good communication depends to a large extent on what you and each team member do.

Regardless of the channel or the interlocutor, if it is a work-related issue, your communication should be as follows:

Clear: Use language that is precise and understandable to everyone. Give simple explanations attached to the facts and with enough information to be understood.  

Concise: Get to the point. Be brief. Only if asked, go into detail or expand on facts. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: give them the relevant information as soon as possible so that they give you the attention you require and are not distracted by distractors.

Be consistent: Have your positions defined and communicate your messages cross-cuttingly. Remember that many collaborators need to learn from each other in a remote work team, and it is difficult to recognize their positions or anticipate their reactions or decisions. If you show consistency in what you communicate, you will avoid misunderstandings.

4. Generate intelligent content

Although we have just told you to be concise, we know this is not always possible. In those cases, what we suggest is to create intelligent content. By this, we mean presenting information in a friendly and easy-to-consume way. Here are three practical tips:

Divide the information. When you present very long blocks of information, the receiver may get overwhelmed, miss what is fundamental, or, even worse, not finish seeing it. Depending on whether you use a written document, a video, or a presentation, you could, for example: use intertitles, send independent clips, and dedicate a slide for each topic.

Make the information easy. If you are going to refer to a document or a digital resource, include the link. With this gesture, you minimize errors, save your colleague’s time, avoid working on different versions of a given file, and in general, terms, facilitate communication with your remote team.

Include an executive summary. Identify the essential points of your communication and present them in a separate section. That way, you will report the essentials, and the details will be available for anyone who needs or wants to elaborate.

5. Take care of your body language

Although it only applies to video calls or virtual meetings, you should notice it. The way you sit, how you look at the screen if you yawn, and even whether you turn on the camera say a lot about you and your work. Be aware of your posture and attitude in these scenarios to make a good impression and project enthusiasm, interest, and proactivity.

6. Keep in mind the different contexts of the remote team In the virtual world, it is easy to ignore

contextual situations in the face-to-face environment. It is impossible to investigate, recognize and adapt to the conditions of each employee. But being aware of things like time zone, cultural norms, and personal circumstances (children, disabilities, or others) helps the team, in general, to be empathetic, respect boundaries, and be considerate.