When your team works in the same building, it's easy to get to know one another. Since you see each other every day, you'll likely develop a deeper than surface level relationship based on proximity alone. You might come to know how your colleagues take their coffee, and maybe even buddy up with them when the company heads out on a retreat or outing. However, if the majority of your team works remotely, it can be difficult to maintain a culture of free-flowing communication. Here are six ways to ensure your colleagues have the means to effectively communicate.
1. Stay up to date
If your team is geographically dispersed, you might find yourself waking up in the morning to an inbox overflowing with new messages. This could contribute to missing out on important information as a crucial call to action might be buried beneath the newest messages in your inbox. Instead of relying on email as the sole source of communication, try using a good chat program to connect with your team in real time. This will help ensure that conversations are focused on the most important initiatives and allow any disconnection amongst the team to be addressed immediately.
2. Use emojis
It might sound unprofessional, but emoji can help improve communication. This is because the written word does not effectively communicate tone and emotion. However, using emoji in conjunction with a well-thought-out statement can inform the reader of intent, helping to avoid misunderstandings.
3. Know when to step back
Try implementing a culture in which “doing” is as important as “brainstorming”. By allowing your team the opportunity to assess the necessity of their personal involvement amongst the larger group, you are allowing members of your team to step back from meetings and focus on tangible deliverables as needed. By instituting this team-wide, colleagues can work offline knowing another member of their team will fill them in if anything important arises in the meeting they missed.
4. Use online meetings
Using online conferencing tools can help get to the root of an issue much more expediently than a flurry of emails. They’re easy to use and your entire team can get together in the same (virtual) room. It’s very effective for communication, as you can see each other's body language (which helps inform the tone and emotion behind a statement in the same way emoji do).
5. Use the right form of communication
Email is not always the best way to discuss an important subject with your team. Try giving them a call, inviting them to a chat room, or organizing an online meeting. Before reaching out, ask yourself, what is the best communication method for what I need to tell them? Are you kicking-off a major department initiative? Perhaps an all-hands conference call is in order. Are you checking in with a solitary employee about an overdue deliverable? A brief IM might suffice. Whatever it is you might be discussing, make sure the form matches the intent.
6. Set clear expectations
While having multiple channels of communication to unite a workforce spread out across multiple time zones has allowed for a greater sense of corporate interconnectivity, these advancements have made it somewhat difficult for your team to know how and when you prefer to work. If you’re the type of person that limits email correspondence to working hours, say so. If you’d like finished work uploaded to the team Dropbox rather than sent as an attachment, tell your team. By being clear about your expectations as to how and when you prefer to work, it makes everyone's jobs easier.
Online tools to improve communication
A portion of your team might already be working remotely, so you might be familiar with some of the online tools listed below. However, technological advancements addressing the gamut of communication issues are being developed every day, so there might be some tools you may not have seen:
- Flow Dock: This tool gives your team one place for both casual and work chats. There's a search feature that helps you find the specific task you were discussing, and a one-on-one chat for when you need to contact just one member of your team. The best part is you can try it free for 30 days.
- Boom Essays: Your outgoing messages should be proofread, but you might not have time to do it yourself. This service could be the answer. Send them your messages and they'll proofread any correspondence before you send it.
- Uber Conference: Online conferencing can be a pain, but this tool makes it easy. You can track attendees, share your screen and easily share documents—all from an extremely intuitive interface.
- Write My Essay: The primary form of your departmental communications will likely be email, so good email writing skills are essential. However, you might feel that yours aren't up to scratch. Get in touch with an expert writer from this service. They'll help you refine your email skills to better articulate exactly what it is you need.
- Word Counter: If a message is too long, the recipient might tune out before you've made your main point. This tool makes it easy to keep things short and sweet. All you have to do is paste your writing in, and you'll get a quick and accurate word count.
- MikoGo: This screen sharing app is perfect if you want to share information, quickly. There's no need to download a program; everything is done through the web app. You can even join for free, making it as cost effective as you can get.
- Assignment Help: If you're having trouble articulating specific needs within written communication, then it might make sense for you to get in touch with this writing service. They can help you with your business writing skills. Work with them, and you’ll see vast improvement in your writing skills.
- Paper Fellows: Good grammar is the cornerstone of all good writing. Without it, your messages will be incomprehensible. This writing community can help you improve your grammar, making your communications much easier to understand.
- Calendly: This is the easiest way to arrange meetings. You simply give the site your schedule, then email a link to the person you're meeting. They pick a time they can meet you, and then the meeting is arranged. That’s it!
Give these tips and tools a try. You'll find it's much easier to communicate with your team, and you'll get a lot more done.
To learn more about how Achievers builds alignment across its entire organization for both onsite and remote employees, check out the blog post To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization.