How to Adjust Your Communication Style for Managing a Remote Team
Guest Article by Lisa Michaels
Communication is critical to success in any business.
However, it can be particularly important in a remote work environment, where the standard office conversation isn’t an option.
When you’re hiring employees to work with your brand from all around the world, you need to keep those team members connected and engaged.
Even with advanced communication tools to help you, like video conferencing platforms and instant messaging services, there are still steps to take to keep people on the same page.
After all, you can’t rely on conversations around the watercooler and in-office board meetings anymore.
We’ve gathered some advice on how today’s business leaders can adjust their communication styles to suit the needs of a remote office.
#1 Keep Everyone Informed
When your team is working in your office, it’s easy to assume that everyone is up-to-date. You can send out a quick office memo, and rest assured that chatter around the office will keep people on the same page.
With a remote team, it’s up to you to overcommunicate everything. When discussing a project or delegating tasks, provide the employee with the most important information and make sure you’re both clear about the topic at hand.
Your employees don’t want to feel as though they’re out of mind, just because they’re out of sight. Make sure that you set time aside in your schedule to send a weekly update to all of your team members wherever they are.
This update should include general information about what’s going on in the business, and what your current goals are.
If there are some big issues to discuss, then it might be helpful to bring people together for a quick conference call, rather than sending an email that could be misconstrued.
Assess each announcement on a case-by-case basis, and choose the method of communication least likely to cause misunderstandings.
#2 Embrace Video Communication
While there are still people in the work environment that shy away from video communication, it’s worth noting that much of our conversational cues are non-verbal.
When you’re connecting in person, it’s easy to determine if they’re friendly, withdrawn, or angry. You can see it in their facial expressions and tone of voice.
However, if you’re speaking to someone over the net using nothing but text, you can’t get to the context behind what they’re saying. Scheduling regular video calls helps to ensure that you’re not only getting the right message to your employees but the right tone too.
Video communications are the best way to maintain valuable face-to-face connections in any office environment. After all, human beings still need those social moments, even when working remotely. Video allows us to build deeper bonds, helping your team members to feel more connected when working from a distance.
#3 Use the Right Technology
Technology is one of the key things allowing businesses to embrace the remote world today. Without tech, we wouldn’t have the cloud computing landscapes that allow businesses to share valuable tools and information with employees at a distance.
Technology also delivers valuable collaboration tools, like services for synchronized document sharing, and instant messaging services.
Before you start building your remote team, make sure that you have the right tools in place to empower them. This could include investing in everything from online conferencing services to workforce management and optimization tools.
You might even want a strategy in place where your remote workers can log the hours that they work each day, and plan vacation time.
If you’re not sure which technology your employees need most – ask them. Most remote workers will have an idea of the kind of tools that could make their lives easier.
#4 Deliver Plenty of Feedback
How are your employees going to know if they’re doing a good job?
In an office environment, it’s easy to say “great job” to your colleague as you pass by them on the way to the break room. In the remote world, it’s common to forget all about giving your distance workers the same recognition and appreciation.
Business leaders still need to provide plenty of feedback to their remote team members if they want them to keep moving in the right direction. If your employees are going above and beyond with their performance, reward them with the praise and bonuses they deserve.
If your team members are struggling, then arrange a time where you can discuss their issues with them and look for potential solutions. A great leader gives their remote team a degree of autonomy without leaving them completely alone.
#5 Measure Your Success
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for developing an effective remote team. Every business works differently. Some employees will need constant interactions with their managers and supervisors to work well. Other staff might prefer having more independence.
As a business leader, it’s up to you to keep track of everything from turnaround time on projects, to employee satisfaction to see whether your remote strategy is working.
There are plenty of tools out there that can help you to do this, including project management software that allows you to track exactly how quickly your employees move from one stage in their work to another.
If things start to slow down or stumble at one point, speak to your team members. Find out how they would change their work strategy if they could. You might get your hands on some valuable ideas that you can put into action.
Communicating with a Remote Team
Managing a remote team is very different from leading staff that are with you in the office. If you’re used to a non-digital method of work, then it can take time to adapt to the new lifestyle. The good news is that the remote working world is gaining steam all the time, with new tools and solutions appearing to help managers get the most out of their employees.
With the tips above and a little initiative, there’s nothing to stop you from making your remote teams just as efficient, if not more productive than your in-office employees.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.
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