Remote Work and Communication
Is Your Team Communicating Effectively?
Many workers have gone remote in the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work comes with plenty of perks—no commute, comfier pants, and sometimes more schedule flexibility. However, remote workers may also find that they have difficulty connecting and communicating with their colleagues. Are you one of them?
Now that in-person communication isn’t on the table, we’ve turned to platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to host meetings, share screens, and keep in touch with our coworkers. But video calling or remote communication is no replacement for in-person communication.
You’re probably dealt with video lag, talking while you’re still on mute, and dropped calls—not to mention distracting background noise from pets, children, or your neighbor’s lawnmower. So it’s not a surprise that remote workers have reported that a lack of social connection and communication with colleagues are the top two challenges they face while working remotely.
What are some signs that your team may not be communicating effectively, and how can you address them?
You have too many meetings.
It’s crucial to be intentional when planning remote meetings. Your team shouldn’t have to meet several times a week. Many times, an email or direct message will suffice. Before scheduling a virtual meeting, think about whether it will waste time and whether it can be communicated through simpler mediums instead. When scheduling, only invite team members who need to be there or provide optional attendance when appropriate.
You’re not having meetings when you should.
Confusing, complicated emails may be a sign that you should host a video meeting instead. If an email you’re writing seems confusing to you, it’s most likely going to be confusing to your coworkers. Save time and trouble by connecting with your team via a quick video chat.
You haven’t considered your digital body language.
It can be easy to forget about body language when you’re sitting in front of your computer, but your digital body language is just as important as how you act in person. Remember to turn on your video camera, maintain eye contact, watch your tone, and speak clearly to show your colleagues you’re paying attention and respect what they have to say.
Team members don’t contribute during virtual meetings.
If you notice the same coworkers speaking up and others not, this could be a symptom of poor remote communication. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some people are more introverted, and while they may not speak up often, they’re actively listening. To increase meeting participation, ask a question and go round-robin so everyone has a chance to talk.
There’s no collaboration.
If your team isn’t collaborating or one person is steamrolling the conversation, this could be a sign that others don’t feel comfortable reaching out to one another. It might also mean that they don’t have the tools they need to communicate effectively. Designate a non-email communication platform with a notification system, like Microsoft Teams or Slack, to keep in touch with coworkers throughout the day.
There’s no meeting agenda.
Meetings should be structured, organized, and productive, no matter which platform you choose. You may not be effectively communicating if you don’t have a plan or structure in place before your meeting begins. Before hosting a meeting, determine which topics to cover and approximately how long you expect the meeting to last.
Your office hasn’t established digital communication norms.
When working remotely, make your work hours and break times clear with your coworkers. Setting expectations and standards will help improve your team’s remote communication. Don’t hesitate to check in on coworkers.
Your coworkers don’t express appreciation for one another.
Showing gratitude for hardworking team members boosts morale, and it’s a great way to bring your team together. Congratulate one another in a group chat, create an email thread of appreciation, or start a Teams thread where coworkers can post positive messages. Your team may not be in the office, but it’s still important to keep office culture alive even from home.