5 communication tips for remote teams

April 9, 2020
Communication tips for remote teams

Have you transitioned to remote working recently? How are you and your team coping with the change? Remote working can be incredibly productive—and it also comes with its own set of challenges.

One thing is for sure, it is essential for remote teams to have good communication strategies in order to thrive. Communication is not only important for work productivity; it also builds cohesion and a sense of togetherness within the team. Maybe your office has taken to remote working like ducks to water, and maybe you could use some communication tips for remote teams to help ease the transition. We’re here to help!

Think about the way the office teams usually interact with each other. You’ve got traditional meetings, brainstorming around a whiteboard, popping into someone’s office to ask a quick question, hashing out a tricky problem one-on-one over lunch, brief catch ups throughout the day… and many other small ways co-workers bond and interact with each other. The link here is that all of it can be done in person—which doesn’t translate to a remote working environment.

To counter this, there are two types of communication that all remote teams need to build into their approach.

Asynchronous communication

This is the backbone of most business models, especially ours. As the name suggests, it’s unsynchronised communication such as using messenger apps and emails. The great thing about this style of communication is your team (or your clients) can work any hours and simply respond in their own time. This works especially well if you have teams or clients in different time zones.

Synchronous communication

This is when the communication is synchronised and in real time but still remotely operated. Most often it utilises programs such as Facetime, Skype and Zoom. Synchronous communication is the best option for things that need to happen with more urgency. It’s also ideal for those situations when it’s important to ask questions and get immediate answers or to enable participants to bounce ideas off each other and get active feedback.

Here are our five communication tips for remote teams to enhance productivity and culture through Covid-19—and beyond.

1. Huddles

Huddles are a great communication tip, whether for a remote or office-based team. They are usually done in person at the beginning of the day. In the CSQD office, we all set three goals for the day and hold each other accountable to them. The next day we review which of the tasks we have or haven’t completed and those that are still currently in progress. This allows for complete transparency within the team and is a very effective communication style for working out bottlenecks or other issues and managing these appropriately. We do these on Zoom each morning, but have added another huddle in the afternoons just drive the culture and connection that we are all craving through this more isolated time.

2. Check in with your team one-on-one

We recommend making an extra effort to touch base one on one with your team as not all issues are going to come up in the huddles. Communication is key to leadership at the best of times but in a remote working situation, it is even more important to check in with your team on a personal level and make sure everyone feels supported.

3. Utilise task management tools

There are a number of task and communication tools that are essential for maintaining good communication and productivity in a remote working environment. There are countless out there to choose from which can be helpful for delegating jobs, tracking hours and keeping on top of your numbers each week. We use Teamwork for job delegation, Slack for direct messaging, Zoom for synchronised communications and Xero for accounting. Check out our blog which goes into more detail around the kinds of tools and systems you can employ to support a remote working situation.

4. Celebrate your wins

We call these ‘Wednesday wins’ and it’s where we share personal or business-related wins each week. This is a great tool for building culture and talking about the good things going on in each team member’s life; even the small things! It’s very easy to concentrate on the negative. Instead, bring some positive focus back.

5. Watch your tone

Possibly the most important communication tip for a remote working environment! One of the biggest pitfalls of written communication is its susceptibility to being misinterpreted or misunderstood. Without visual and verbal cues like facial expression, body language and tone, messages can sometimes come across as terse, angry, or rude when they weren’t meant to be. That’s why it’s worth going the extra mile to review each message before sending it. It may also be worth writing a little more than you usually would — over-communicating, as such — just to make sure your meaning is as clear as possible. We love using emojis and gifs to help humanise, clarify, or lighten up the tone of a message, but of course this will depend on your company’s culture and what is or isn’t considered professional.

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