Great communication is the foundation of every successful business - and it’s especially important for remote and global teams. Without regular in-person interactions, communication can easily fall by the wayside and negatively affect all areas of your company.
In other words, good internal communication is business-critical. Enhancing your remote team communication strategies and policies can help you boost employee productivity, fuel engagement, drive innovation, and ultimately benefit your bottom line.
Below, we outline communication best practices for remote teams, so your business can succeed in the new world of work.
1. Set Clear Communication Guidelines
Effective communication for remote teams starts with clear guidelines. By outlining how you expect workers to communicate with each other and third parties, you’re much more likely to benefit from aligned, purposeful communication.
Your communication guidelines should cover things like your chosen communication tools and channels, preferred processes, language and tone of voice guidance, and meeting etiquette. For example, when should your colleagues use email over Slack? Do you have specific core hours or days reserved for meetings? How can team members be inclusive of people from different cultures and backgrounds?
Remember, your communication plan for remote employees may look different from other companies, and that’s okay. The guidelines should be a reflection of your unique culture and values.
2. Use the Right Tools in the Right Way
In a remote setting, communication tools are essential - and they’re available in abundance! You almost certainly know about Slack and Zoom, but have you heard of MIRO, Notion, and Loom? They’re some of our favorite remote communication and collaboration tools at Omnipresent.
Your teams will benefit the most from a carefully selected and streamlined suite of tools. That means using only one tool for a specific purpose. For example, avoid using two very similar project management tools (like Monday.com and Asana) and stick to the best-suited one for your team instead. That’ll help enhance cross-functional work and ensure your colleagues know how to collaborate effectively.
Selecting the right tools for your remote team will depend on many factors, including:
- Your team size
- Team distribution
- Existing tools and processes
It can be helpful to experiment with different tools before settling. Be sure to make the most of trial periods, and gather your colleagues’ feedback to reach an informed decision.
3. Embrace Asynchronous Work & Document Everything
Replicating the office in a remote work setting isn’t always conducive to better communication - especially if your team is distributed across the world. Attending meeting after meeting will only lead to “Zoom fatigue.” And that’s not great for productivity.
Instead, your remote team will likely benefit from more asynchronous working styles. Asynchronous work takes the pressure off employees to respond instantly. It prioritizes deep work over distraction-filled video calls and non-stop messages, helping to boost productivity and well-being. Working asynchronously allows for slick remote team collaboration regardless of time zone and working hours.
Comprehensive documentation is the key to asynchronous work. Over-communicating processes in written form, like Notion pages, ensures your whole team understands what’s happening within the organization at any time.
4. Encourage Empathy & Champion Positive Intent
Remote work can feel pretty isolating and impersonal. After all, you communicate almost entirely through a screen. That’s why encouraging empathy is so important. It can be as simple as starting a new Slack message or email with “hello, how are you?” rather than diving straight into your request or switching off your notifications during a call, so your colleague has your full attention.
To put it simply, we need to hold onto our humanness. We’re not machines, and in an environment where the personal and professional often blurs, it goes a long way to show our colleagues we care.
Similarly, it can be hard to interpret communication through a Slack message or a quick email. We’ve probably all assumed the worst when we receive a curt message from a colleague or a manager, but often their intention wasn’t to cause distress or anxiety. So assuming positive intent is a really helpful practice for remote teams. It can help build trust, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and improve well-being. You can champion positive intent by instilling it in your company culture and values, as well as your communication guidelines.
5. Prioritize Manager-Employee One-to-Ones
Asynchronous communication doesn’t mean avoiding any and all video calls. There are some meetings that can add a lot of value to your remote communication. One of those meetings is the manager-employee one-to-one.
Both managers and their team members can benefit greatly from a dedicated, focused time to catch up face-to-face. During those one-to-ones, you can strengthen relationships, track progress, resolve problems, provide feedback, guide career progression, and more. In short, these meetings are an incredibly powerful communication tool, and they improve remote collaboration too.
To make your one-to-one meetings as productive as possible, keep them regular, purpose-driven, and distraction-free. Read our dedicated blog on one-to-ones for more tips.
6. Rethink Water Cooler Moments & Team Building
“Water cooler chat” is often cited as one of the big pros of office-based work. It can fuel innovation, help colleagues bond, and offer light-hearted relief from the busy workday. But there’s nothing to say you can’t create water cooler moments in a remote environment. You just have to think more creatively.
Here are some great ways to provide informal spaces for your colleagues to chat, exchange ideas, and bond:
- Create dedicated Slack channels for hobbies or communities of people.
- Play coffee roulette to connect with people outside your team (or use the “Donuts” feature in Slack).
- Host walking meetings to benefit from a change of scenery and get the creative juices flowing.
- Take advantage of the metaverse and hold your next virtual social in a fun location of your choice.
- Organize in-person retreats once or twice a year so your whole team can meet without a screen between them.
Remote team communication doesn’t have to be impersonal. With a bit of effort, your distributed workers can build relationships as successfully as office-based employees can too.