It's no secret that communication is the key to success. In today's world communication is usually virtual but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have to be strong. Follow the tips below to strengthen your communication with your remote team:
Minimize Interruptions When Possible
Everybody's remote work environment is different. Some people might live alone with their dog in a tiny studio while others might live with their families in a 5 bedroom house. No matter what your environment is like, it's important to minimize interruptions during calls with your team when possible. Your dog barking or your child running up to you during a meeting is inevitable (and completely okay - we're all human!) but avoid interruptions like running noisy appliances such as the dishwasher while you're on a call. Also, if there's too much going on at home to concentrate on your meeting or team, consider moving your meeting to a better time if you can.
Avoid Micromanaging Your Team
You might be thinking that micromanaging your team will improve your communication but that couldn't be further from the truth. Employees who don't feel trusted or valued will become resentful. Being micromanaged via email or with random video calls is frustrating for everybody and will lead to less productivity. If you give them more space to do their work without the fear of constant emails or video calls, it will allow them to get their work done more quickly and productively.
Host Monthly Virtual Coffee or Happy Hour Meetings
It's easier to work with people if you can connect with them on a more personal level, this is true even for a remote team. If you only have work-related calls set up, you'll mostly only be having work-related conversations. Consider setting up a monthly virtual coffee date with your team to talk about non-work related topics. Or you could host virtual happy hours or trivia nights. You could even make these different themes!
Set Clear Deadlines
Instead of micromanaging as mentioned above, set clear deadlines for your team. Always be as clear as you can in order to prevent miscommunication. Utilize a team calendar so that it's clear to everyone when projects are due.
Consider Your Methods of Communication
Are you using video for all of your meetings? If not, you should be! It's easier to build relationships with people if you can see each other's faces versus just talking on the phone. Have to reach out to to an employee or colleague quickly? This is really the only case where just a phone call is preferable. Most people don't like getting random video calls!
Set Up Weekly 1:1 and Team Calls
An easy way to stay connected with your team is to have recurring meetings on the calendar. Start your week out with a team call on Monday mornings so everyone can discuss what's going on that week and consider setting up weekly 1:1 calls with your direct reports closer to the end of the week. These don't have to be long! Even just 30 minutes is enough time to catch up with your team to make sure you're on the same page with anything going on that week.
While working remotely, don't forget to be empathetic. We're all human and dealing with different things at home. Understand that you're employees may have to change a meeting time last minute or that they may have to jump off a call for family sometimes. Support your team and let them know that you're there for them. Even though working remotely may come easily to some, it won't for others.
Working remotely can be just as productive as working in a physical office! Just don't forget to check in on your team and follow the steps above to improve your communication with remote employees and colleagues.