(April 2020) – All of us know that communication is a cornerstone of a successful team, but when working remotely it can be easy to lose sight of just how necessary it is. Not seeing your coworkers daily, and not being connected by a shared space can be isolating, and it can present certain roadblocks to communication that will take more effort to navigate than many are used to. Staying on top of your communication methods and channels and being aware of potential pitfalls can keep things from falling through the cracks. Here are some ways to make staying in touch easy and efficient:
- Be transparent: Being clear about expectations, priorities and schedules is necessary to keep everyone on track in any team, but especially when its members are far apart. Try weekly or daily tag-ups via conference call, skype, or email, so everyone can check in and discuss what they’re working on and what they might need from the rest of the team.
- Understand everyone’s availability: A remote team often operates in different time zones or on specific schedules that make working from home easier for them. In order to be sure all team members have access to anything they need from others in the group, create a group calendar to track everyone’s availability and take note of what hours of the day they are online. This might change from day to day so keeping up with it, both when it comes to updating your own and tracking others, is key. If you notice someone will be unavailable soon but you need something from them for a project, reach out as early as possible to be sure they have time to complete their task, or to be sure there is someone else who can get it to you.
- Be efficient: As updates come in on projects, client needs, or company announcements, make sure to share them quickly and through a consistent medium. Create a message thread or project hub for a certain client or task, or for larger company updates, and make it clear to each member of the team where those updates will be. This way, you instill a sense of trust and stability and increase productivity by avoiding any hiccups or crossed wires.
- Prioritize morale: That same separation that makes scheduling tricky can also be hard on team spirit. It’s easy to feel disconnected when working remotely, so try scheduling Skype calls, or even organizing group texts or Slack or GroupMe threads where everyone has a chance to bond and build relationships that will make work communication even easier.
Especially in times of big changes and uncertainty, communication is the glue that keeps everyone together. Checking in on your team to be sure they have what they need is as important when working from home as it is in an office, and it can be done easily when you keep it top of mind.