by Mary Walton
How many times during your career have you heard that communication is the key to success? Working in an office, this is all well and good, but when it comes to managing remote teams, how can you boost communication when you’re never in the same room together?
Today, we’ll explore seven keys ways to improve your current communication levels right along with your remote team so you can start enjoying the benefits immediately.
Master Your Own Skills
You’re not going to be able to improve your team’s communication skills if you don’t first improve your own. This means developing your writing skills, learning to speak more clearly and more precisely, and paying attention to how you use your body language when expressing yourself on video calls.
Use Video Conferencing
Speaking of… video conferencing software has never been more affordable. Think Skype or even Facebook Messenger. (The 100 percent remote Management 3.0 team loves Zoom.) Being able to see the person you’re talking to, even if they’re the other side of the world, can help you understand messages, read body language, and minimise the risk of miscommunication.
Darren Nicks, a project manager for Assignment Help, puts it this way: “Using video conferencing within a remote team is vital. When choosing your platform, pick one to suit your needs and may include features such as file sharing, screen share and multiple users in one chat.”
Use Instant Messaging
Since instant messaging services have erupted into our everyday lives, it’s never been more important to leverage them. If your remote team is currently using email threads that go on forever, stop now and get yourself an instant messaging service for just-in-time and continual, though asynchronous, communication.
Use Tools to Enhance Communication
There are so many tools and resources out there that are designed to improve communication within a remote or colocated business, it seems silly to not use them. Here are a few to get you started:
- Flow Dock – An online tool for bringing all your conversations from multiple sources and platforms into one place.
- talkSpirit – An enterprise social network, like Facebook but for your team.
- State Of Writing – An online guide to improve your writing skills.
- Uber Conference – A leading online package designed for easy Web and video conferencing solutions.
- Mikogo – A leading screen-sharing platform that can help you communicate during meetings or presentations.
- Grammarix – An online writing service that shows you how to use grammar properly.
- Calendly – An instant chat platform that can help you to set up meetings with the aim of making emails redundant.
- Doodle – Plan meetings across many timezones and schedules.
- Who vs Whom – Grammar blog that explains popular mistakes.
- Collaboration Superpowers – We couldn’t have a remote teams piece without mentioning our superstar colleague Lisette and her awesome podcast of inspiring remote teams!
- Virtual Not Distant – Pilar offers advice especially for those leading and managing remote teams.
Hold Weekly Meetings
It can be difficult trying to get a remote team together for a meeting, especially if they’re based on the other side of the world and operating in a different time zone. However, pull together and ask what time would be best to have a video meeting, even if it’s one day a week.
This is a great way to ensure that everybody is on the same page and aiming for the same goals and targets.
Use Emoticons & GIFs
When communicating through written text, it can be very difficult to gauge how somebody is feeling. For example, ‘John, I need to speak with you’ can be interpreted to be really angry, happy or neutral. Try following Jurgen Appelo’s Feedback Wraps, try putting an emoji, so it reads ‘John, I need to speak with you 😊’. It’ll let John breathe a sign of relief and not worry about the upcoming conversation.
Hand in hand with the consideration above, being strict when you need to be with a remote team is equally difficult. If someone is underperforming or work needs to be addressed, avoid using written communication and organise a video or phone call. Always evaluate what form of communication is the best.
How have you managed the better managing of remote teams? What tricks do you have to improve remote team communication?
Further remote team advice:
- Remote Work: Find happiness at work from anywhere
- Slowing Down to Speed Up: Effective asynchronous communication
- How Trello can help your team self-organise
- Virtual Ice, Ice Breakers
- Remote team retrospectives for happier teams
- Creating agreements with your remote teams
- Will flexible working kill the office star?
Photo: compliments of open source New Old Stock