In light of recent events, many companies and organizations have adjusted their traditional working methods and switched to working remotely in the hopes of slowing the rapid spread of COVID-19. And, because most businesses are doing this for the first time, they might find it challenging to maintain communication between team members working from unique environments with varying levels of connectivity and distractions.
However, as you and your colleagues adapt to working as a remote team, there are a few tricks that can make the transition easier and encourage effective communication. Check them out below:
Schedule Daily Video Calls
In an effort to provide a bit of normalcy, start your day with a team meeting, just like you would at the office. Schedule it for first thing in the morning and encourage everyone to join a video conference. This way, your entire team can tune in; you can all see and hear each other and thoroughly discuss any urgent projects; and you can easily prioritize and discuss individual tasks. Plus, by setting clear goals, targets and jobs, everyone on your team will know exactly what they need to do throughout their workday.
Ask Questions & Encourage Feedback
Communication is key when working remotely as a team, and to make it as effective and useful as possible, make sure it’s not one-sided. Instead, encourage a steady flow of conversation between team members. For example, rather than giving orders to each other, take some time to ask questions. Make sure everyone understands their respective assignments and seek feedback from colleagues about how to improve your workday. Listen to their answers and implement their suggestions for remote work that yields results.
Discuss Concrete Details in Writing
As you go on discussing the myriad of to-dos for the day, concrete information might get lost. Furthermore, because not all team members take notes during video conference meetings, make an effort to send in writing the most important details of your discussion for everyone to see. This is especially important and beneficial for the completion of specific tasks or if statistical data or numbers will be included in certain assignments.
Craft Clear Messages
When communicating with members of your team, make sure you craft clear, concise messages. Along the same lines, avoid the temptation of jumping from one topic to another, which may confuse your colleagues. In particular, structure the items you wish to communicate in an easy-to-follow manner. Also, get to the point quickly without spending too much time discussing irrelevant topics that are unrelated to the task at hand.
Choose the Right Medium
If you need to discuss your team’s daily to-do lists, video calls that follow a strict itinerary can help you cover the most important tasks in a quick and effective manner. Likewise, if you wish to communicate short, specific information, a written email or instant message is the way to go. Meanwhile, if you have a few details to discuss about a matter that requires two-way communication, a short phone call would be your best option. Depending on what you need to communicate, make sure you choose the right medium for the type of message you need to deliver, and opt for the solution that ensures the most effective form of communication.
When everyone is working remotely from separate locations, it’s hard to know exactly what your colleagues are doing at certain times of the day. As a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of over-communication as you try to check in on them every once in a while to make sure they’ll send you the document you need or that they’ll complete their part of the task.
However, this can be quite counter-productive, as it will slow your workflow and interrupt theirs. Avoid micromanaging and trust that your colleagues will do the work they were assigned to do. Over-communication can actually risk wasting time for both of you with aimless, back-and-forth messaging.
Be patient with members of your team during this difficult time. Everyone has issues to deal with at home that might affect their work flow one way or another. So, establish their specific tasks, trust that they will deliver their assignments in due time, and be patient with each other. By doing so, you’ll create an encouraging environment — even as you each work remotely from the comfort of your own homes.