The concept of remote working is nothing new. But, today, it has become a normalized way of work. While there are still talks about a return to normalcy, it is clear that a complete reversal is far from possible. During the pandemic, remote working was the only option to keep companies afloat. But studies have shown that the percentile of the remote working population has seen a gradual decline. Now, many global companies have managed to fulfill their ‘Return to Office’ strategy. Yet, with hybrid work entering the mix, remote working is here to stay.
The workplace has been re-invented, and so should the work culture!
The remote working model has gained the favor of employees for its many benefits. It reduces the cost of commute and allows work from anywhere or even another time zone. Research has also shown that employees value companies that offer flexible working options. Many employees feel that they are better focused while working remotely. Remote working has become mainstream in the corporate work culture.
On the flip side, many companies are still coming to terms with handling a remote working team. For most companies, remote work simply means “work from home”. It is often forgotten that introducing a remote working option means building and embracing a new work culture.
Remote working demands the core company culture to be re-invented. Inclusive behaviors must be integrated into the company’s work culture seamlessly. The culture should embody equality, diversity, understanding, and flexibility. These qualities must be reflected in remote team communication practices. This makes a remote workforce highly engaged and productive.
Virtual team communication: 5 ways to ace team communication with remote employees
Lately, team communication has seen a massive transformation. During the pandemic, team communication apps saw a surge in their usage. But emails and meetings are no longer enough to foster effective communication with remote employees. Here are a few ways to perfect team communication skills with remote employees:
- Practice inclusion as a fundamental etiquette
Remote employees frequently face the brunt of isolation, especially in a hybrid workplace. They are at risk of missing out on important discussions. Studies show that this social disconnect can affect team productivity and lead to high turnover rates.
Practicing inclusive behaviors is the only solution. Inclusion is an act that should be demonstrated in every aspect of a company’s culture. It should start right from HR processes to the core operations of the team. Team meetings are an ideal place to practice inclusive behaviors. Managers must ensure that meetings are not one-sided. Create an equal space for employees to participate actively. A manager with a team of remote employees must always think with a remote-first mentality. In this way, inclusion becomes a mindful act. Remote employees feel seen and heard even without their physical presence. It ingrains a sense of belonging in them.
Provide the right team communication software and IT support
Effective technology can make remote teamwork a seamless process. Fortunately, today’s market has a myriad of technologies that cater to a range of functions for team communication. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Clariti are some examples of multi-functional tools that make teamwork easier.
Invest in the right tools to simplify the complex parts of remote work. However, using too many tools can be counterproductive. Research has revealed that switching between multiple apps in the workplace has decreased employee productivity. This is precisely why it is important to assess and invest in software that best suits the needs of the team. In the end, good team communication software should make remote team collaboration close to effortless.
Companies like Zoom and Microsoft teams have also launched a new range of meeting room appliances. These appliances aim to provide a natural meeting experience to hybrid teams. It encourages remote employees to take part in meetings without being passive listeners actively. Offer consistent IT support to remote employees. Ensure that they have the required devices and an ideal remote workspace. Quite often, the technical needs of remote employees are neglected. The lack of work facilities and technical support can affect employee work performance.
Use asynchronous communication more frequently than synchronous means
During the pandemic, Zoom meetings and instant chats became a dominant form of remote team communication. With real-time collaboration tools, remote employees often face the pressure of being online all the time. Relying heavily on synchronous communication leads to employee burnout. It affects their work-life balance and mental well-being.
Asynchronous communication is any communication that does not happen in real-time. This means that employees can respond to messages and emails at their own pace. Online meetings are not the only means of remote team communication. Face-to-face team discussions have always been assumed as the best way to churn out creative ideas and honest opinions. But new technology has challenged this assumption. Digital brainstorming tools like online voting polls, whiteboards, and online task managers have played a vital part in remote team collaboration. Using digital brainstorming tools is also time and cost-saving. It is a smart way to get all the team members talking. In this way, even the quietest employee in the team gets the space to express themselves freely.
As more companies hire global talent, their location may not be a constraint with the proper use of team communication tools. In a global team, there may be employees from different time zones and cultural backgrounds. Asynchronous communication is a more inclusive way of team communication since it transcends time zones and allows people who may have a different native tongue to think through their answers before responding. It allows employees to take time to respond proactively instead of giving impulsive reactions.
- Always make time to give and take feedback
Consistent rethinking and improvement are what make a business grow. Feedback is an absolute necessity for all teams and especially remote teams. Managers must ensure that they set aside a fixed time to discuss work performance, team goals, and priorities. In this way, remote employees are clear about team direction. Managers can utilize this time to mentor employees and give them an action plan. At the same time, it is also important to solicit feedback from remote employees. Ask them for suggestions and input. Fill these feedback sessions with positive words. This is a great way to improve employer-employee rapport and motivate employees to do better. Employees feel valued, heard, and seen when their suggestions are considered.
Invest in team-building initiatives
The rates of isolation and loneliness among employees were at an all-time high during the pandemic. Employees were compelled to work from home for their own safety. Watercooler conversations, coffee breaks and group lunch banters became a far-off reality. Employees felt disconnected from their teams. Such a personal disconnect can have a negative impact on team communication.
Hybrid workplaces are a good solution. But, in a team with fully remote working employees, building personal relationships need proactive effort from the management. Many companies have implemented creative team-building strategies to address this problem. For example, the Buddy system where a new remote employee is paired with an experienced employee for work interactions is now becoming a common practice. Some companies plan an annual meetup for all team members to get to know each other.
Virtual team-building assistants are also an effective way to stimulate fun-filled interactions. It helps teams to form close bonds with games, trivia quizzes, and many other creative activities. Implement good team-building initiatives to create a positive and stress-free work culture. The success of remote team communication is based on many factors. Team communication apps are a catalyst for remote teamwork. Using the right technology can help teams to have a seamless on and offsite working experience. Building interpersonal connections are vital for a team to be more creative, innovative, and productive. These efforts can go a long way in helping employees feel included, connected, and happier in the long run. A strongly connected team can communicate effectively while working remotely without missing a beat.
Alexia is the author at Research Snipers covering all technology news including Google, Apple, Android, Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung News, and More.