Improving Communication in Remote Teams

Learn how to keep your entire team connected, even when you’re working physically apart. Remote work offers many opportunities for your team's success.
Improving Communication in Remote Teams
By
Adrian Johansen

Internal communication is vital in every business. A well-connected team can help you achieve high engagement, strong productivity, and 47% higher profits in five years. However, when your closest employee is hundreds of miles away, great communication is a conscious effort that business leaders need to initiate.

The good news is, embracing the digital workplace is easier than ever.

Solutions for remote teams are popping up left and right. These seven strategies — and the tools that help you accomplish them — can get your internal communication on the right track.

1. Centralize Your Communications

Offering convenient ways for employees to reach out to coworkers and managers is key to fostering great communication — but having dozens of communication channels can do more harm than good.

Productive communication is streamlined.

Employees shouldn’t have to constantly jump from one tab to the next just to keep up with their team.

Ideally, each communication channel your team utilizes should serve many unique purposes. Rather than cluttering your team members’ browsers or desktops with single-use tools, consider tools like:

  • Google Workspace, which supports email and video-based communication, as well as real-time document collaboration.
  • Slack, which is an internal communication hub that supports team messages, direct messages, video and voice calls, and status updates.
  • Asana, which is a project management tool that allows you to assign and collaborate on tasks, as well as follow up with team members.

2. Be Conscious of Timezones

One of the biggest hurdles remote teams face is time zone differences. With employees scattered all around the world, it can be hard to set up meetings and keep everyone on the same page. Plus, you don’t want to bombard international team members with messages and calls when it’s 3 a.m. in their region.

Luckily, there’s no need to constantly Google time zone conversions before reaching out to your team.

Tap into tools like these to communicate effectively across time zones:

Many modern communication tools (like Slack) also have built-in features that display when team members are online at their local time.

3. Over-Communicate

It’s easy to underestimate how much you need to communicate to collaborate well, but when you’re working in the same office communication goes beyond formal meetings and messages. Team members are constantly asking their “neighbours” questions, popping into managers’ offices, and catching up over lunch.

To replicate this level of communication for a remote team, err on the side of over-communication.

Touch base daily, even if it’s just through a quick email or message on the notice board.

Confirm when you receive emails and let your team know when you’re stepping away from your desk.

Take care to avoid micromanaging your employees when checking in. Your goal is to keep everyone on the same page, not to tell team members how to do their jobs.

Tools like Google Calendar or Calendly can help you schedule more formal chats, like recurring one-on-ones or project-specific meetings.

4. Be Clear and Concise

You and your team members are busy during the workday, so your internal communication should be as efficient as possible.

Even when you’re over-communicating, clarity is essential.

Always get straight to the point, providing clear action steps and context when needed.

Communicating clear goals is also crucial for productivity. Each of your employees should work toward the same goals, understand their unique impact, and know what deadlines they must hit.

You can also boost clarity by being mindful about who you’re communicating with — not everyone needs to be looped into every email!

5. Demonstrate Good Communication

As a leader in your organization, you must practice good communication to inspire your team members to do the same. Employees won’t just follow your lead — they’ll trust you more if they feel a personal connection to you.

Be transparent and proactively ask for feedback. During virtual meetings, practice open communication and active listening.

Showing your appreciation for your team members — either during one-on-ones, on Slack, or with an employee recognition software — is also great practice.

As much as 45% of American workers haven’t received recognition in at least half a year, so initiating a culture of appreciation can boost morale.

6. Facilitate Cross-Functional Collaboration

A more formal way you can improve communication is by assembling diverse teams for projects. This can be key to facilitating creativity from the brainstorming stage through to production. When you unite people with unique backgrounds and skills (a practice known as cross-functional collaboration), your team won’t work in silos.

Instead of simply passing work between departments with little communication, which can slow you down, you’ll have team members working together across departments throughout a project.

7. Foster Strong Coworker Relationships

Employees are human, too. They thrive on connection. Great work relationships can boost productivity, morale, and loyalty.

So how do you create connections when team members can’t chat at the water cooler or head to happy hours after work? Encouraging virtual hangouts can help you foster this relationship-building culture.

Even scheduling 15-minute virtual coffee breaks and group workouts on Zoom can help your team get to know each other’s personalities and communication styles.

Every so often, you can even host virtual office parties. Services like Pizzatime specialize in helping remote teams organize great virtual events — even if you want to add on yoga, trivia, or other experiences.

Boost Your Communication

Remote teams are the future, but to truly take advantage of the benefits of remote work business leaders first need to foster strong communication — even when team members are scattered all around the globe.

By using the right collaboration tools and adopting healthy communication practices, like over-communication and employee recognition, your team will be on its way to stronger productivity and greater results.

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