Whether it’s temporary or permanent, working with a distributed or remote team has unique communications challenges when compared with working in a brick and mortar office environment. The need for clear communication is even more critical, and it can be easy to default to over-communicating with team members to make sure everyone understands. If your team has many meetings, conference calls, Zoom meetings, or presentations, it limits their opportunities for uninterrupted productivity.
Optimize Your Remote Team Communication
It’s essential to keep communication clear and concise. Here are a few ways you can optimize your remote team’s communications, so everybody feels connected, but still has plenty of time for getting work done.
Minimize Internal Email Use
Keep your emails for client communications and occasional company-wide briefs. Your team can spend a lot of time responding to too many emails every day if they’re getting all kinds of internal communications that way.
Use Internal Chat Programs like Slack or Microsoft Teams
Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams make it simple to organize communication. Having multiple channels means staff members don’t have to perform lengthy searches for discussions relevant to their work. It also means they don’t have to participate in or even read conversations that are not relevant to their work.
Slack also gives your team opportunities for personal connections. You can have specific interest channels like memes, houseplants, and pet pictures, where staff can relax a bit chat with each other when they need a break. Think of this as the virtual water cooler, which helps your team grow stronger and feel more supported as individuals.
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That Zoom Call Could Have Been a Slack Message
Zoom fatigue is a real thing; everyone is feeling it.
Zoom meetings can be helpful, but they’re not always necessary. Having to be on video, especially when working from home, is extra pressure for team members. Having everyone on video can be uncomfortable and awkward, not to mention the almost inevitable audio and video delays—try to have a strict policy and see if you can limit video meetings to interviews.
Video meetings can tend to drag on, with information and discussions that are not relevant to everyone in the team. To reduce or avoid Zoom fatigue, it’s crucial to keep video meetings as short as possible and stick tight to the agenda.
Before you book it, define your purpose and the benefits of a Zoom meeting. Clearly lay out what the meeting will accomplish and stick to time limits. Need to do a brainstorming session? What about using a collaborative mind-mapping software and voice chat?
Consider that audio and video delays can be confusing and make it difficult to track information. If you cover critical information in a zoom call, you’ll need to make sure it’s written out to send later. If it’s been written out for the agenda or later in meeting minutes, could you have made that a conference call instead? Or even a slack message?
If Zoom meetings are a must, limit them to 10% or less of the week, so staff doesn’t start hitting Zoom fatigue. If meetings cause tons of distraction, you may want to set limits on how many happen per week, and when they happen. You could decide on meeting-free times collectively, or maybe one day a week that all meetings are on, or one day a week that has no meetings at all.
Hold A Daily Scrum
Keeping in touch and keeping up with what all team members are working on can be challenging on a remote team. If your team is up for it, and it works for all time zones, consider starting a daily scrum.
Traditionally, a scrum is a short stand-up meeting immediately after an event where members of the press can ask leaders or speakers questions at significant events. That iteration of it is based on rugby terminology. It’s a format that easily translates to a team environment.
In a team scrum, each team member has a minute or two to say what they got done yesterday, what they’re working on today, and what impedes their progress. A scrum can help you keep track of project progress, and it can help your team stay connected and on track with each other.
Scrums must be fast, that’s the point. Otherwise, they’re just another “meeting that could have been an email.” For voice chats, set a timer if needed. Each person should have no more than two minutes to say as briefly as possible what they’re working on for the day.
You could even do a digital scrum in a Slack channel every morning.
Remote Team Communication Strategies Are a Must
Many companies have been experiencing challenges and growing pains with an abrupt switch to remote work situations. And it might seem like a huge pain in the butt right now, but don’t give up. There are tons of companies worldwide who have managed to nail down productive and profitable remote team communication, including having team members in dramatically different time zones.
Your company can figure it out, and you’ll be that much stronger for it, since your operations will become flexible and dynamic. As a bonus, in the future you can continue to adapt to any situation and keep your team functioning smoothly.
Have you implemented a communications strategy for remote workers yet? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.