Mastering Remote Work Communication For The New Normal
The COVID-19 pandemic and strict lockdowns around the world forced all types of companies to go remote. As we move towards the last quarter of 2020, it has become clearer than ever that remote work is here to stay.
Working remotely for a few months now, you might have already realized that remote work communication comes with its own set of challenges that require thoughtful solutions. When you are a part of a remote team, you can’t just huddle the team members into the meeting room for a quick discussion.
You have to be more mindful of setting up meetings or even calling your team members who are already working from home and may not always be available for a ‘quick discussion.’ Moreover, you also need to be careful of the messages you send out to your team. Even a little typo or wrong context can cause major miscommunication and issues within your remote team.
Remote work requires new skills, both managerial and interpersonal, that will determine team success. Achieving good communication with the same team members in a remote team environment requires a paradigm shift and new work strategies.
The top remote work communication challenges
While it’s good to communicate closely with your remote team, overcommunication can lead to productivity issues. It can be difficult to focus and get work done when you are constantly receiving messages from colleagues and notifications from the numerous work applications that you use. Similarly, impromptu and sporadically scheduled meetings can also affect productivity flow.
You need to find a balance between overcommunication and under communication. Remote team members shouldn’t feel left out with little to no information about what is going on, but at the same time, they should also not feel like they are being micromanaged.
2. Relying too much on email and phone calls
While email is far from dead, it is no longer a viable way for remote teams to communicate effectively. When the bulk of your communication happens on email, it becomes difficult to track down important files and conversations. Email communications make it impossible to have real-time conversations with colleagues and delay discussions. Also, email communication can increase misunderstandings within the team that can quickly snowball into huge problems.
At the same time, calling up your colleagues directly with no prior notice can also seem insensitive. Your team members can be busy managing a domestic chore or focusing intently on the task at hand, and routine unscheduled phone calls can interrupt them and frustrate them.
3. Problems with technology
Communication tools form the very backbone of remote teams. The right tools can help remote teams collaborate and communicate with their team members effectively even when they are working from different time zones. On the other hand, the wrong tools can cause confusion and affect the overall productivity of the team.
The technologies and tools that you use should perfectly align with your company’s culture and internal processes. If they are too complicated or just not a good fit for your team, they will not only make it difficult for your team members to communicate but also create efficiency issues.
4. Hybrid team communication gaps
Hybrid teams are expected to be a common structure in the post-pandemic world, where a part of the team will work from the office and the rest will work remotely. This decentralized and siloed organizational structure can further create communication challenges for teams like:
- Visibility issues where remote team members don’t know what the in-office team is up to
- Impromptu work conversations with only in-office team members which can make the remote employees feel left out
- Organizing meetings in the office instead of conducting fully video call meetings with everyone that can make it difficult to take opinions of every remote team member
Why moving to remote work and collaborative platforms is crucial to streamline communication
Remote work hinges on reliable tools that can help remote team members collaborate effectively with each other and their in-office counterparts. Using separate tools for different types of communications may seem like a quick solution, but it will only end up siloing work conversations across multiple platforms which can create bigger issues for your team in the future.
Instead, it’s better to move to a unified remote work platform that has all the features that you need to collaborate and communicate with your remote team effectively. With a single tool, all of your work data, conversations, and discussions are in one place which makes it easy for your team members to track data on the work-related information and manage their work more efficiently.
The ideal features of a remote work and collaboration platform include:
Instant messaging and communication channels
The remote work platform should support both synchronous and asynchronous communication by allowing you to message team members in real-time and have detailed discussions through dedicated communication channels.
File sharing and storage
To make collaboration easier and avoid excessive emails, the remote work platform should work as a central repository for all the company-related data, files, and important documents. Moreover, the platform should make all the data easily searchable and shareable.
The tool should allow you to create and manage projects in real-time. It should also let you track projects to ensure all the deadlines are met and important project details are accessible to everyone involved.
With the remote work platform, you should have the option to digitize and transform business processes into streamlined internal workflows. At the same time, you should also be able to automate repetitive parts of the process to save time, decrease discrepancies, and improve collaboration.
Visibility and access controls
The ideal collaboration tool should also have permission and access control options to avoid any unauthorized access to important business data. Transparency is important in companies, but security is just as important. The tool should allow you to make data as private or as transparent as you want it to be.
The remote work collaboration platform should complement and not disrupt your organization’s existing IT infrastructure. It should integrate with all the existing work applications without making it difficult for employees to toggle between different applications.
Key remote work skills every employee should master
Just picking a great remote work platform and hoping for it to make your team more productive and efficient is not enough. You need a remote team with the right set of skills who can actually make the most of the platform and maintain seamless communication and collaboration.
Here are the top remote work skills that every employee should have:
Whether you are contacting a team member through email, text, phone, or video call, you should always communicate your thoughts as clearly as possible.
When you are working remotely, your team members cannot look at your body language to understand the context of what you are trying to say. That is why it’s incredibly important to choose your words well and double-check every message or email that you send to ensure there is no room for misunderstandings.
Always check for any grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues before you send out emails. You may also want to ensure the accurate level of formality and tone depending on who you are communicating with.
Remote work offers flexibility to employees, but that flexibility goes way beyond just choosing your work location and daily working hours. Remote employees also need to be always ready to adapt to new ways of working, digital tools, and unexpected situations.
You may also find yourself joining new remote teams where you have never met the team members face to face. In cases like these, it is crucial to quickly adapt to the new team’s work culture and understand their expectations in order to start managing your work successfully.
Ability to work independently
You may need to work with colleagues who are in different time zones to finish critical tasks. Just because you are a part of a team, doesn’t mean you can reach out to your colleagues and get an instant response every time you have a query. While it’s good to know how to be a part of the team, you also need to know how to handle things by yourself in case any unexpected issues arise.
When working from home, there is no manager looking over your shoulders or coworkers walking to your desk just to get an update on work. It’s your own responsibility to stay focused and finish everything that has been assigned to you on time.
The right tools to streamline your remote work communication
Communication and collaboration are important for remote teams and that starts with choosing the right communication tools. Instead of picking separate tools for different types of communication and adding them to your already growing suite of digital tools, you can use a unified digital workplace like Kissflow which can integrate all of your work data, communication, and workflows into one single platform.
With features like project management, access controls, file sharing, instant messaging, dedicated communication channels, and third-party integration, Kissflow can streamline all the remote work communication for your team and make sure your team can work efficiently even when they are working from different parts of the world.