How can you grow a stronger team while working remote? By always improving the digital communication between each other. Read for some tips below.
With no clear end to the current crisis in sight, it’s likely that remote work will continue to play an important role in keeping non-essential workers healthy while they continue to do their jobs from home, or from safe and sanitized satellite offices. An important part of enabling continued remote work is strong digital communication.
Digital communication will remain the backbone for businesses seeking to thrive and grow during this pandemic, as well as after it. As we continue to look toward the near future with increased workplace flexibility in mind, finding ways to leverage current and upcoming communications technologies to make it easier and more convenient to cooperate remotely will be key.
Managers and leaders need to pick platforms that are easy to use and avoid overwhelming their employees with too many tools, systems, and messages, while current employees will need to learn how to best communicate with the platforms they’ve chosen, while onboarding new hires and integrating them seamlessly into the company communications network.
But navigating the new normal can be challenging, particularly when it feels like the sudden shift towards remote work has been especially hard due to cluttered, overwhelming, and disorganized communication. Making the most of digital communication tools is about more than just picking the right platform.
Here are some important tips.
1. Pick a Consistent and Effective Communications Platform
Stick to the fewest possible number of communications platforms to enable you to do two things well: group communication and individual communication. To that end, pick a platform everyone is at least partially familiar with, or one people know for its shallow learning curve.
Make sure you can host clean one-on-one video calls, and effective group meetings. Pick a platform that lets you organize group chats, and effectively integrate collaborate tools such as Google Docs.
And finally, accept that email still isn’t going away for some time, so don’t try to replace it – and find a platform that exclusively fills the gaps where email fails, particularly in regards to instant messaging, group communication, voice, and video. Having too many platforms and avenues for communication can make it difficult to keep track of conversations, find files and topics, and get in touch with the person you’re trying to reach.
2. Always Schedule One-on-One Calls for Important Matters
Avoid hiding critical messages or important meetings in emails. Develop a clear and simple system for prioritizing messages, so when a message comes through on the appropriate channels, its importance is clear.
Something that needs to be addressed via a direct message might be much more urgent than an email, while something mentioned offhandedly or with a direct tag/mention in the group chat is probably more casual, or even off-topic.
But when something requires immediate attention or a prepared and nuanced conversation, schedule a call. Too much information is lost in chat or voice calls – make it face-to-face.
3. Consolidate Messages and Cut Cluttered Conversations
There’s little use in sending a dozen emails a day when there is so much else to do during the day.
It’s better to consolidate important or relevant topics for the day or week in a single long email at the beginning or end of the day or week, unless it’s an urgent message – in which case a direct message would be more appropriate, to convey urgency.
Learning to cut through the clutter and make it immediately clear when something should be responded to immediately and when it can wait (via something as intuitive as the delivery of the message) can help you avoid miscommunication and wasted time.
4. Make It Clear When a Response is (and isn’t) Needed
Emails can be notorious examples of miscommunication, particularly in cases where it isn’t immediately clear when a response is needed or not needed. This goes for any other messages, as well.
Consider making it clear in the body of an email or message if you need a response or not, so the recipient can be clear on whether they should respond immediately, respond later, or get to work and let you know when something relevant has changed or occurred.
5. Set Schedules for Communication
Living in a mostly remote world has its advantages, but it also has significant drawbacks, especially with regards to hours spent at work, and work life balance.
Set clear schedules for when it’s okay to check into work and communicate on work matters and make it clear that there’s a cut off period for receiving, sending, and/or responding to communication.
There may be exceptions from time to time – serious emergencies – but there should be boundaries nonetheless, and any exceptions to those boundaries should be rare or nonexistent.
6. Create Clear Lines of Communication Between Management and the Workforce
One of the great benefits of effective digital communication is that it’s easier than ever to communicate with the people we need to communicate with, regardless of their physical location. Not only does this let a manager speak directly to any employee they need to address, but it also lets employees speak directly (and immediately) with their managers.
Utilize this as a strength, and establish clear and simple methods of reporting to and communicating with coworkers up and down the chain of command, making it easier to bring up grievances or suggest changes, vote on certain matters, or just ensure that management hears when employees have some sort of issue.
A culture of promoting openness and making it safe for employees to bring up any matters regarding management can promote trust between employers and employees, as employers know their employees can be more upfront with them, while employees understand that their individual opinions (and opinions as a group) matter, and can have an impact on the company.
7. Utilize Group Chats and Group Communication to Make Company Goals Clearer
At their worst, group chats can serve as a behemoth of information to wade through to get back to an old conversation, or a source of constant distractions.
But when organized, moderated, and used properly, group chats can enable companies and departments to communicate effectively, create a greater sense of cohesion and unity, and make it clearer to everyone what a company’s immediate and long-term goals might be. Every employee should be on the same page, and feel that they’re working towards something together.
There are many benefits to properly leveraged digital communication, and it’s more important than ever to take full advantage of these benefits.