Remote work is all the rage these days! And it seems that both employers and employees are becoming more open to adopting the trend du jour. According to a recent survey, 51% of employees expressed their willingness to switch to a job with more flexible hours. In another survey, 44% of high-level executives said they are “completely confident” about their remote working arrangements.
However, one of the prerequisites for running a successful remote team is good communication. Of course, highly advanced project collaboration tools have made the job easier these days, but you still need to have a solid plan for remote collaboration. When your team is working remotely across time zones, you need a remote communication policy to ensure the smooth running of your project management workflow. So, here are some tips for improving your remote team communication.
1. Create communication norms
Without a documented communication policy, your remote team members may often wonder who to contact when, what messages need a quick response, and how to deliver any urgent news out of hours. Also, clearly mention what tools are right for what occasion. For instance, you may want your team members to use one program for video calls and a different program for recording audio-only calls.
Likewise, set norms for when to use direct messaging, group chat, email and any other communication tools. When creating communication norms for your remote teams, you should also consider individual preferences. For instance, some of your team members may want to receive brief, to-the-point messages without the usual greetings and business etiquette. Some clients may have individual preferences in terms of writing style and tone. Keeping all these specifications documented will help your team customize their messages for the recipient.
2. Use project collaboration software
When you are working with remote teams, using project collaboration tools is a must. A good collaboration tool helps centralize your project communication, eliminating the need for back and forth emailing. You can plan, execute and monitor your projects and streamline your project management workflow from a single platform. Tools like this also help monitor a project’s progress in real time, know who is working on what, and boost productivity and accountability of your remote teams. With more advanced tools, you can even keep your clients and third-party consultants updated from the same platform. However, you can still control their access to any sensitive information in your project management repository.
3. Watch out for misinterpretation of written words
Remote teams often need to use written words for team communication. Of course, they can also use video calls and phone calls but chats and emails are a staple in remote communication. The problem with written words is they are susceptible to misinterpretation. That’s because written communication lacks important cues, such as body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. It’s been said that 50% of written communications are misunderstood by the recipient. For instance, vague words such as “great” or “ok” can be interpreted as ironic. That is why you should be extra careful when emailing or texting your team or clients.