As of 2020, there are more than 4.7 million people in the United States working remotely. That number is set to grow steadily as people continue to appreciate the benefits of a virtual work environment.
For companies, hiring a virtual team can save the business significant costs and allow greater access to a broader talent pool. Moreover, companies with remote employees are typically more productive as their employees find the flexible work schedule motivating.
But remote collaboration does come with some challenges, too. In particular, maintaining effective remote communication can be a very difficult task.
How do you overcome this challenge? Well, as a leader, you need to come up with creative strategies for collaborating better with your remote employees. For that reason, we have prepared this comprehensive guide on communicating and collaborating with a remote team.
Read on to learn more about effective group communication when working remotely.
1. Always Be Available
As you already know, effective communication is at the center of good collaboration. Most of the time, communication entails simple questions, clarifications, and requests for more information. When working in a real office, employees can simply go over to other colleagues or leaders and ask to speak to them.
In a virtual setting, however, it’s sometimes not easy for employees/colleagues to tell whether you are available or not. So often, they have to try and find answers to any questions on their own.
That’s why it’s essential for you and your team to try to be available/online as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that you have to be chatty 24/7. Instead, you only need to make sure that there’s always someone available in case one of your remote employees needs help/assistance.
2. Prepare Messages in Advance
Any time you spend communicating with your employees is time that could have been spent on doing other tasks. That’s why you need to keep communication as clear as possible. Remember that one of the reasons people choose to work remotely is so that they have as much alone time to focus on their work as possible.
Take the time to prepare your communication so you don’t waste other people’s time by sending vague messages. Keep in mind that while working remotely, you won’t be having face-to-face communication where people can ask for clarifications immediately.
Because of time zone differences, your messages may reach some of your employees, hours later, so you want to make sure that they understand precisely what you’re saying. If your messages are unclear, you could end up wasting more time on providing additional responses and clarifications.
3. Communicate Only When Necessary
We pointed out earlier that communicating takes people away from their work. That’s why you want to avoid constant chit-chat with every member of your remote team.
If a conversation doesn’t involve a particular employee, don’t include them in it. Your employees don’t want to receive every email or response that you send unless it’s actually relevant to them.
Effective collaboration also includes communicating your emotions. Fortunately, there are emoticons that can effectively let your team know the overall vibe of what you’re saying.
4. Use Suitable Platforms to Enhance Communication
The recent proliferation of online collaboration apps is great news for businesses that manage virtual teams. So finding a suitable collaboration platform where your team can communicate freely, safely, and effectively has never been easier.
Of course, you want to be careful that the collaboration app you choose doesn’t foster too many excess meetings and conversations. That is why you should limit communication to productive messages instead of unnecessary back-and-forth chatting.
5. Include Your Team When Evaluating Collaboration Tools
Although bringing all your team members on board to choose core collaboration tools can be a hefty task, it does have great benefits. You want to make members of your team feel part of the decision-making process especially when it comes to something as important as communication.
Sure, different people have different tastes when it comes to communication tools, but if you discuss with your team all the options you have, this can significantly help in deciding which tool is the best one for you. Also, try to resist the temptation of being biased towards apps you’re already familiar with.
What if your group suggests a tool that you’ve never heard of? It’s better to learn about something new instead of falling back on your tried-and-true messaging app, as doing so may adversely impact your team’s productivity.
6. Have a Stable Wi-Fi Connection
Reliable Wi-Fi is a necessity for effective group communication with your remote team. Unfortunately, many leaders forget this. When you have a poor connection, you waste time not only for yourself but also for your virtual staff.
So why should you invest in excellent Wi-Fi? Sometimes you’re going to have to make video calls or upload large files that require a strong connection. It may also be necessary for you to remain online all day. With a poor Wi-Fi connection none of this is possible.
7. Make Sure That Meetings Have Actionable Takeaways
Typically, the first thing companies think about when going remote is how they’ll be doing their online meetings. It’s almost impossible to do business without ever having meetings with your remote employees. Meetings can actually be very productive, but only if they are done the right way.
The first thing you need to avoid is holding meetings simply to talk about what you intend to do or what other people need to do. Use the meeting to share screenshots, take notes, and come up with actionable takeaways. Many top conference call apps on the market today do have features that will allow you to do such activities.
The idea is to make sure that each meeting results in something that’s going to advance your remote team’s efforts towards achieving your collective goal.
Effective Remote Communication Is the Key to Your Team’s Success
As more companies and individuals choose to use virtual collaboration, effective remote communication continues to be a challenge. By adopting the tips shared in this guide, hopefully, you will be able to keep every member of your team on the same page.
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