Photo by fran innocenti
Working with employees who are located remotely can be somewhat of a challenge for any company. When you think of the way to solve problems or to discuss matters with non-remote employees, the solution is simple: schedule a meeting or send an email to address the issues. What happens if you can't schedule a meeting in which all people can discuss their concerns, and which ends with all drinking a beer together? Or, how can you communicate with other team members who work in entirely different time zones than the rest of the team? These can quickly become issues if they are not dealt with promptly!
Since these are recurring issues, we have created features to tackle this problem. On our platform, Standups, your remote employees can use the Story UI, similar to Instagram, to keep the entire team updated with the projects they are working on. And, to make communication even better, you can react to these stories. Comment threads show up as an overlay to keep comments in the context right inside as you watch the updates, so your coworkers can comment on your updates and on others' comments too. Pretty cool, right?
Although our platform offers all kinds of features like these, some general tips and tricks can help you communicate better with your remote team. For example, checking in often, or letting your team know that your (virtual) door is always open are great ways to do so. In any case, check out the tips we have outlined for you below!
1. Video-calls are the top tier of communication channels
One of the things we forget about quite often is how lucky we are to have access to the kind of technology we have today. For example, with tools like WhatsApp, Skype, or FaceTime, anyone with an appropriate device can have a video call. Video calls are better as you can see the body language and can understand the person more clearly. Also, you tend to interrupt less often, as you can see facial expressions. And, generally speaking, video calls allow for a greater connection as there is nothing quite like talking to someone face-to-face– well, screen-to-screen.
2. Make your remote team meet other members, if possible
We understand that this can be hard, especially if your team is all mostly spread over the world. However, depending on the size of your business, you may be able to create events for your employees in the cities they are located in. Similarly, you can help them by signing them up for events in your field, which works both as a way for them to find people with shared interests and as a networking opportunity.
If you can, gather your entire remote team in one location for a few days. Make this a cool training or just a team-building weekend. This can help build strong relationships between your team members, even if they are all located far away from each other!
3. Create a community feeling – loyalty between your colleagues
This tip ties in well with the previous one. By creating a strong community feeling and a sense of commitment to your company, your employees are excited about team calls and much more open with one another. It is widely known that having good morale at work leads to happier employees, which in turn leads to more productivity. Who doesn't want that?
4. Be open about your feelings
This may seem somewhat out of context but bare with us for a minute. Of course, you want to have the right balance when it comes to sharing feelings, but keep in mind that remote employees mostly communicate via text or other similar platforms. This means that a message received can easily be understood as rude or lacking tact if you do not communicate properly. To deal with this, we encourage you to talk to your employees about it. For example, perhaps they are busy with a project? If this is the case, it should be clear so that there is no miscommunication.
5. Be clear about the right time to communicate – setting limits
It can become overwhelming to receive messages all night and day, especially if your employees work in different time zones. Make sure to communicate well regarding the times you are available, and when you are not. This way, you avoid some miscommunication or frustration on either side! To solve this, we have integrated a "Multiple Time Zones" feature on Standups that allows all members to see when it is night time or day time, depending on the employee's time zone.
6. Stay professional, even via text
Of course, texting often is associated with writing to loved ones of friends. However, with the rise of remote work, this is quickly going to become the norm. The days of emails or Fax are changing, we are now using Slack and Whatsapp, so the line between social and professional can quickly become blurred. To avoid this, we encourage you to keep texting and messages professional, with the right punctuation and appropriate emojis. It makes a world's difference!
7. Use the right tools for efficiency and productivity
Finally, you can communicate more efficiently by investing in the right technology and by using it profusely. This is why we have integrated Slack to Standups– this is efficient and makes everything more productive. Think about it– do you really need to do this phone call, or could this information be shared using direct messaging? Can you discuss the work that was delivered using comments on the document, or is it necessary to plan out a 30-minute video-call? Of course, video-calls are essential, but not if they hinder your productivity!
We really hope that these tips were can help you and your remote team — we think that they will bring a great share of clarity to the communication topic for distributed teams. If you are new to remote work, or if you have just joined a mostly remote team, make sure to keep these tricks in mind and let us know if you find them helpful. You can always contact us via our live chat, or via Twitter @StandupsHQ.