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14 Proven Remote Communication Practices for Leading Remote Teams

Business success depends on effective communication, and working with remote teams can be challenging, to say the least.

And as we navigate the challenges of virtual collaboration, it's crucial to establish clear and consistent communication protocols to ensure everyone is on the same page.

But how does communication differ between a team that works remotely and one based in an office? -you might start questioning.

Team members engage and see each other frequently when working in an office, which fosters familiarity and closeness. However, remote workers do not have the chance to have that crucial face-to-face interaction with their teammates due to the distributed nature of the team.

Additionally, with so many workplace communication channels available, selecting one that keeps your staff engaged and on the same page can be difficult.

Let's explore some of the best practices for remote communication and how to use them to build a cohesive and productive virtual team.

Improve your remote communication with these easy-to-follow steps

Efficient remote team communication best practices

1. Set clear expectations for communication channels and availability:

This is most likely the most important lesson to remember.

Setting clear expectations for remote communication channels ensures that everyone on the team knows how and when to reach each other.

This can help to prevent confusion and miscommunication, and ensures that important information is shared promptly. When everyone knows what to expect in terms of communication, team members can focus on their work and be more productive.

Asynchronous communication

Asynchronous communication allows team members to communicate and work on their schedule, rather than in real time.

If your remote team supports asynchronous communication, without clear expectations for communication channels and availability, team members may become unsure when to expect a response or send a message.

This can lead to delays in getting important information and create confusion and frustration.

For example, if a team member knows that their colleague checks email only once a day, they can plan to send an urgent message via a different communication channel.

2. Plan frequent check-ins and weekly team meetings to maintain a sense of unity:

When working remotely, it can be easy for team members to feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues. When working remotely, it can be easy for team members to feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues.

Frequent check-ins allow team members to keep each other informed about their progress on tasks and projects, and to address any issues or challenges that have arisen. This can help prevent delays and ensure everyone is on the same page.

The team meetings also allow team members to hear from one another and build a sense of camaraderie, which is particularly important when working remotely.

Also, Meetings don't have to be a bummer. To prevent wasting your remote team's time with a meaningless meeting that could have been an email, follow these communication guidelines:

  • Clear up the poor reputation of team meetings and check-ins by incorporating them into your culture.
  • Schedule your meetings in advance, keeping the same day, time, and agenda each week.
  • Don't waste anyone's time. Start and end on schedule.

3. Encourage face-to-face interaction through video conferencing rather than just huddles or text messaging:

Visuals are processed by humans much more quickly and effectively than text or audio, and emotionless text messages can also distort the meaning and intent of words.

Face-to-face interaction allows team members to see each other's facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. This can help to convey meaning and intent in a way that text-based communication cannot.

Video conferencing also allows team members to connect more personally and engagingly than text-based communication. This can help to build stronger relationships among team members, which is particularly important when working remotely.

Switch remote communication to video calls and make it a habit to turn the camera on so that the team can see one another and engage. Additionally, you can learn a lot about their feelings by monitoring your team's body language and nonverbal cues.

4. Avoid excessive communication:

Yes, in your efforts to stay in touch with your remote staff, you might overcommunicate and send more messages than necessary.

When team members are bombarded with too many messages, it can be difficult to prioritize the important messages. This can lead to delays in getting vital information and create confusion and frustration. Additionally, excessive communication can also lead to distractions, which can negatively impact productivity and focus.

Your remote employees require quiet, uninterrupted time to finish their tasks, and if they constantly respond to your messages, you are depriving them of the opportunity to focus.

Unnecessary communications can divert focus from the task at hand, highlighting the need to organize consistent team meetings on specific days and times.

5. Don’t ghost your remote team:

When working remotely, communication speed is interpreted differently than face-to-face in an office environment. People may doubt their efforts to connect with someone if they receive no response to their message or no answer right away.

When team members do not respond to messages or calls, it can make it difficult for other team members to get the information they need or to complete tasks on time. This can lead to delays and can negatively impact the team's productivity.

Additionally, ghosting can create mistrust and frustration among team members. When team members feel ignored or disregarded, they may be less likely to trust their colleagues or to feel invested in the team's success.

You risk making your team feel uneasy and making yourself appear distant if you don't answer in real-time.

This can lead to a lack of accountability, as team members may not feel responsible for the team's progress or may not be willing to put in extra effort to help the team succeed.

Ghosting can also create a hostile and unprofessional image of the team member doing the ghosting, it can lead to them being seen as unreliable and untrustworthy, which can lead to difficulties in future collaborations and projects.

Make sure to reply to messages from your remote staff constantly; if you can't, acknowledge receipt and promise to answer later.

6. Don’t make assumptions. Always clarify:

“Here’s what I just heard you say… Did I hear you correctly?” is an excellent place to start.

In a remote work environment, team members may not have access to the same context or visual cues they would in an office setting, making it more difficult to understand the meaning behind a message or request. This can lead to confusion and delays, and can negatively impact the team's productivity.

When team members make assumptions about what someone else means or wants, it can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

For example, assuming that a team member understands a specific technical term or acronym can lead to confusion and frustration. By clarifying and asking questions, team members can ensure that they understand the meaning behind a message or request and can respond appropriately.

Clarifying also helps to build trust among team members. When team members feel that they can ask questions and have their concerns addressed, they are more likely to trust their colleagues and feel invested in the team's success.

Assumption clearing enables us to make decisions about how we interact with others in a professional setting with less reactivity and more powerful, creative responsiveness, which will significantly enhance communication across remote teams.

7. Keep your team from multitasking:

Multitasking is the quiet killer of remote workers. Just because someone works from home or elsewhere doesn't mean they aren't working.

Every time someone multitasks, they are teaching their minds to get distracted, which will cause the quality of their job to suffer and cause them to miss deadlines.

When remote team members multitask, they may be less likely to pay attention to important messages or calls, leading to delays and miscommunication.

Multitasking can also negatively impact productivity, as it can be difficult for team members to focus on one task when constantly switching between multiple tasks.

To achieve this, team leads could establish clear boundaries between work and personal time, encourage team members to prioritize their tasks, and set specific times for checking and responding to communication.

After all, creative thinking requires sustained focus. Here are some strategies you may use to stop your remote team from multitasking:

  • Organize your remote team's upcoming week in advance.
  • Create a list of the top priorities and distribute it to your remote team at the start of each week.
  • Set your expectations.
  • Specify reasonable timeframes.
  • Provide clear directions.

remote team communication tools like Asana help avoid multitasking

How can I improve communication in remote teams?

If poor communication has already negatively impacted the morale and engagement of your remote workforce, do not lose hope, you still have time to turn things around.

Here are some actionable tips to improve remote team collaboration:

8. Avoid micromanagement:

While frequently checking in with your team during time-sensitive collaborative activities makes sense, micromanaging your remote team is only a good idea if you want to make them feel irritated and uncomfortable.

Remind yourself that your remote staff is working for you because they have proven to be capable, self-sufficient people with solid backgrounds.

If you need to check in with someone frequently because you believe they are not performing their duties, you may need to review your hiring process to ensure that you are selecting the proper candidates for the open positions.

9. Say good morning and goodbye:

The absence of face-to-face interaction is one drawback of working remotely. Saying "good morning" when you clock in is one way to inspire people to start their day with healthy discussions.

When team members say goodbye and good morning, it can help to create a sense of beginning and ending to the workday. This can be especially important when working remotely, as it can be easy for team members to blur the lines between work and personal time.

Saying good morning and goodbye also helps to create a sense of accountability, as team members know when they should expect to hear from their colleagues and when they should be available for communication. This can help to prevent delays and ensure that important information is shared promptly.

10. Be visible - lead by example:

Office teams have many more possibilities to naturally learn about their teammates' and managers' duties and schedules. To earn your coworkers' trust when working remotely, you must find a way to be visible to them.

Open discussions about how they prefer to communicate and what works for you in parallel is a terrific way to achieve this.

Do they consider that the best way to catch up with you is during a short 15-minute talk at the end of the day? Or do they choose threaded email conversations instead? A Slack message, perhaps?

Please ensure they know your contact information, availability, and response time.

On Tuesday, do you have back-to-back client meetings? Notify them! They will certainly appreciate you letting them know that if they contact you on that day, you might not respond immediately due to the circumstance.

You want to make it possible for them to contact you when they need to.

11. Respect the cultural diversity of your team members:

Working remotely with a cross-cultural team can be fun and exciting, but you need to know how to create an environment where everyone feels respected,

Avoiding stereotypes, offensive jokes, and conversations about touchy subjects like religion is a fantastic place to start.

Here are a few pointers to ensure effective communication amongst members of your cross-cultural remote team:

  • Set an English-only restriction for group communications within your organization.
  • Take into account the various needs and abilities of each member of your remote team.
  • Learn about the many backgrounds and cultures of the employees.
  • Inquire about their culture only if they are receptive to it.
  • Embrace diversity.

12. Respect their schedule:

Respect your remote team clock-out time and refrain from contacting them after their shift. Just because you know an employee may have a work computer nearby at all times does not mean you should expect them to be available after their shift.

13. Be direct and assertive; carefully read your message before sending it:

Simplicity is difficult to get. Eliminate unnecessary words and passive voice while speaking with your remote workforce, especially when using chat platforms.

To make your directions understandable to your remote staff, break up your writing into clear paragraphs. This will ensure that your message and its purpose are evident in as few words as feasible.

14. Make time for one-on-one conversations or regular feedback sessions:

One-on-one meetings allow you to get to know your remote worker personally, establish a reliable working connection, gain helpful feedback and suggestions, and improve teamwork.

By working together in your communication, you can make sure that your team is effective and productive, improve the culture of your business, and provide remote workers with a sense of respect and appreciation.

establish communication norms to help communicate remotely & support a healthy company culture

BONUS: How do you make a remote team feel connected?

Building solid relationships is a crucial component of creating a successful business. Regular communication alone might not be enough to get your remote staff to bond and look forward to each new day at work.

Here are some pointers to help you communicate effectively with your team and establish strong bonds with them:

1. Integrate appreciation into your daily work habit:

During weekly meetings, recognize outstanding efforts or contributions and make sure the appreciation is genuine and appropriate.

2. Celebrate work anniversaries, milestones, and birthdays:

The fact that the working world has gone online doesn't mean you should stop honoring the special days of your remote staff. It might be as simple as setting up a virtual birthday car where everyone can leave personal greetings and wishes.

3. Create a ‘watercooler’ channel:

Give your team a space to talk about topics unrelated to work and to blow off steam. Even a group channel with images of pets, TV shows, books, hobbies, or the outdoors might help someone relax and relieve some stress.

Since remote employees now have to match the message to the right channel, this method will also help you minimize unwelcome disruptions in your regular team discussion.

4. Use GIFs and emojis to give a more precise impression

Compare the following message:

No problem

To this one:

No problem 😁👍

Using emojis while instant messaging makes you appear more sincere even in professional interactions, according to studies, and they help communicate facial expressions, tone of voice, and human gestures in digital communication.

You can also incorporate remote communication tools & project management tools into your remote team

Help your remote team communicate in an effective way

As you can see, communication between remote teams should be handled differently because virtual teams have distinct needs from their counterparts that work in offices.

Your remote team will communicate more effectively in no time by adopting basic rules and developing a culture that encourages honesty and openness.

Are you ready to start a remote management position? Simera offers executive positions at US-based companies. Check our current openings and apply today!