We get it! Managing a remote team is difficult, especially during times when what feels like your “normal” routine one day might be thrown out the window the next. As a manager or a business owner, it’s critical to develop top-notch communication skills for getting messages across to your employees. Particularly during times of change, these tips for better employee communication will help you support your team, manage expectations, and stay on top of these ever-changing times.
Start with a morning check-in.
When you’re not gathering around the coffee pot in the mornings, it can be tough to form connections with the rest of your team. Encourage friendliness and camaraderie with frequent check-ins, even if they’re just as small as a friendly, “Good morning!”
Lead with empathy.
Particularly during confusing times, like the shift from office work to remote work, empathy is a prime component of leadership. Understanding what your team members are going through, being flexible about deadlines, and providing support during the transition to working from home are all great ways to show empathy as a team leader.
Encourage your employees to come to you.
Make yourself available for questions, concerns, and guidance. Establishing an open-door policy (or open-email, anyway!) creates a communication outlet for employees to utilize. This comes in handy when it’s time to change procedures or adapt to new lifestyles—like during a global pandemic, for example. It’s important too to not just extend this as an offer—actually encourage employees to check in with you frequently, and if you’re not hearing from your team, check in with them yourself. Open lines of communication are key!
Establish communication guidelines early.
Do you prefer a phone call or an email? Are texts restricted to working hours? What’s the procedure for scheduling a meeting? Establish your communication guidelines early, make them part of your onboarding process, and keep them in a shared folder that everyone can access. As procedures change, keep your guidelines updated to ensure everyone stays on the same page.
Enact a “video on” policy for meetings.
During virtual meetings, it’s tough to keep everyone on task. Decide on a “video on” policy for critical meetings. This has the double benefit of preventing multi-tasking while also giving your team a chance to connect and bond. Plus, as a team leader, it’s easier to tune in to people’s needs and emotions when you can see each other face-to-face.
Communicate with clarity, especially during times of change.
Clarity is key during times of change. Avoid jargon-heavy corporate memos and lengthy email chains. Instead, create a communication system that relies on clarity. Make sure your employees know what to expect from you and when—you could establish a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter of sorts that goes through the week’s goals and expectations. Whenever procedures need to change, be sure to communicate those changes clearly and quickly.
Invest in communications tools for remote teams.
When working with a remote team, online communications tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom are critical to success. Your full set of collaboration tools should include an instant messaging system, voice communication (through a VPN or phone system), email, and options for video chats. Additional collaboration, like file sharing through Office 365, will help your team work together to complete projects.
Focus on objectives and deliverables.
The best way to ensure solid communication with a remote team is to focus on your objectives. Go into every meeting with an agenda prepared, have clear points of contact for deliverables, and establish your expectations for your team members as clearly as possible. Keeping clear track of your objectives will keep everyone on task and connected!
Send a recap to keep everyone on the same page.
After meetings, send a recap of your notes, expectations, deliverables, and tasks to everyone involved. Keep these notes and checklists updated with deadlines, and frequently update your team’s progress as time goes on. These recaps can be kept in a team folder on a shared server, giving everyone on your team the option for access whenever needed.
Managing a remote team is challenging. As more and more businesses make the move to permanent remote work-styles, clear communication is key to ensuring your team’s efficiency as part of the digital workforce.
For assistance getting started with remote collaboration, give our team a call at (904) 606-6011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can get your team set up with collaboration and communication tools that make it feel like we never left the office in the first place!