Years ago, to communicate with your teammate, you had to get up off your chair, walk a few steps, and tap on their back. The office days were so easy, right?
Then we entered the era of remote work, and now, the typical workday is not the same as it was. A recent survey found that approximately 40% of managers lack confidence in managing and collaborating with their remote teams.
Today, new miscommunications and misunderstandings unfold as more companies leap into remote-first reality.
There are several common challenges to remote team collaboration, such as:
- No face-to-face management
- Lack of weekly/monthly priorities
- Productivity slump
- Nasty micromanagement
- Failing to come together as a team
- Scheduling/syncing problems
Every company is unique in its employees. Therefore, every other strategy or tool can help you and your company only if you deeply understand how YOUR company works best remotely.
What are the Components of Sound Communication for Remote Teams?
Today, it’s more than typical for companies to recruit internationally. Thus, most remote-first companies have a nice mix of global citizens.
Remote teams, as you may know, are challenging to navigate, and you may overthink how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote.
Some well-defined communication components can help alleviate the stress of navigating remote teams. Those components are:
- Defining the types of communication: synchronous and asynchronous, and how they should function.
- Planning non-work-related communication practices: a special off-topic Slack channel for coffee chitchats, fixed life catch-up calls, birthday/new talent celebration calls, virtual movie nights, etc.
- Setting clear goals and tracking them: just like in any other relationship, communication for remote teams must have a clear destination. Vague expectations will only worsen the challenge of efficient collaboration.
- Continuously measuring and developing strategies: base processes on employees’ needs, organize surveys, one-on-one calls, or other methods.
It’s important to remember that these systems must not intrude into the employee’s personal space since that has high chance of backfiring.
Now that we have the big picture, it’s time to break these points into more actionable steps. Let’s look at the main challenges and dive into all the creative ways to communicate with remote employees.
Boost Collaboration by Investing in the Best Communication Tools for Remote Teams
Remote collaboration is not an entirely new thing. However, we still get used to it since it can make it hard to talk at a normal pace.
More importantly, a pause between messages can often hide emotional reactions to our comments, but we’re usually tied to people’s reactions in real life.
Management may fear that workers won’t work as hard or efficiently. Remote employees may feel that their managers don’t understand their demands and aren’t supportive of their job.
That is why it has been proven that teams must have the opportunity to communicate in two ways to maintain a healthy collaborative balance.
Synchronous Communication Guidelines and Tools
Tools that facilitate remote collaboration are an absolute need for remote teams. No matter where they are when they start their workday, team members will be able to access a unified set of tools. Therefore, they will find everything they need to communicate effectively, complete their tasks, and maintain contact with one another.
Here’s a list of some of the most effective tools:
- Slack for urgent and ASAP synchronous messaging and company-wide group chats
- Asana for project ccoordination and organized flows.
- Zapier for snappy automation.
- Miro for specifying shared visions and goals.
- Google workspace for centralizing ideas, necessary documentations, and solutions.
- Zoom for tuning in from every corner of the globe, resolving miscommunicated issues, and brainstorming sessions.
- Notion for coordinating and centralizing assignments, schedules, and deadlines.
- Lucky Carrot for appreciating each employee’s input and resources daily and promoting collective growth.
After all, effective remote team collaboration comes down to everyday practices, the seeds of our desired outcomes are planted day by day.
That is why at Lucky Carrot, we believe that daily incremental steps to employee recognition can result in better collaboration within the team or in cross-functional teams.
Discover the benefits of peer recognition and why you should implement it in your workplace in “7 Reasons Why Peer Recognition Is Important“
All of the above-mentioned processes and communication tools are the driving force of every remote team.
But this other type of underrated process bridges the gap between effective collaboration and high-quality results.
Asynchronous Communication Guidelines
Establishing an asynchronous communication practice is one of the most creative ways to communicate with remote employees. It’s actually both creative and necessary.
Sometimes, it’s stressful for employees to constantly interact with managers and co-workers when they’re trying to get their tasks done before that deadline.
Asynchronous communication allows employees to respond when it’s convenient or most productive for them. It also provides the employee with a chance to get used to working without distractions because it’s better for mental health, productivity and creates better outcomes.
By establishing this process, you allow your employees to have uninterrupted slots of time that they can dedicate to focused work.
To balance synchronous and asynchronous practices:
- Schedule specific communication times during the day/week/month for project updates bearing in mind time zones and the employee’s convenience. It’s crucial to minimize synchronous messaging as much as possible and focus on more pre-planned, information-dense, readable clickable messages. One of the creative ways to communicate with remote employees asynchronously is drafting a plan for the virtual meetings and taking notes for future usage. That way, employees can have organized deliverables and speeches to make the best of the call, and there is no need for spontaneous chack-ins.
- Also, establish emergency communication systems: create a separate group channel/chat for only those messages, message employees including unique emojis, request video calls with the option to not tune in with the camera, or use internally specified keywords for those kinds of urgent situations.
- Create a culture of respect for one another by only pinging targeted people. The whole group chat doesn’t have to know about something that you have to say to only, let’s say, three people in the team. If necessary, use the @channel mention option on Slack to tag only the employees that need to read the message.
Enhance Communication for Remote Teams by Continuously Tracking Effectiveness of Your Systems
There’s no one size fits all approach to how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote. You have to get creative, transparent, and accurate in your systems.
Start by introducing an OKR system to your employees and present them the approximate path that they need to follow to get to the company goals. This can be an extensive one or a brief one that you can elaborate on during one-on-one meetups.
What result does this process bring in the long run?
- Firstly, it’s a bold act of transparency towards employees and builds a foundation for trust in collaborations.
- By doing so, you help all the teams be on the same page with where the company is heading. Moreover, teams get to know what role each of them has in that growth, and they naturally bond with a shared perspective for the future.
- Last but not least, have a flexible system of measuring success and milestones. Once every quarter or whatever time you find it reasonable for your company, organize surveys, performance reviews, company-wide discussions about how the overall plan is working.
Discover the potential risks and benefits of remote working for businesses in our article
Build Effective Remote Team Collaboration by Celebrating the Small Things
Be it a birthday of an employee, a company anniversary, the next viral content piece, or a crucial milestone. Remote teams crave some fun celebration times. More often than not it’s the number one thing that office work used to give to them pretty frequently.
These social events help employees create genuine bonds and think about one another outside of the scope of work.
Collaboration starts from celebrating the small things which boosts the employee morale and makes them feel valued.
Initiate collaboration by celebrating every single milestone with Lucky Carrot.