5 Tips For Boosting Communication With Your Remote Team

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Open communication is important to build trust within a team and motivate its members. It is especially significant when managing virtual teams. Learn to overcome the challenges of remote team communication.

Open communication is the basis of trust between the team members. Though people sometimes don’t realize it when working in a co-located company. In most cases, communication is not a problem for team members sharing the same office space. It just flows naturally, when people grab some coffee in the kitchen and then chat with each other near the water cooler, discussing the latest news.

However, communication becomes a challenge in a virtual team because people are isolated and just do not have any physical space for small talk. Therefore, remote team management should involve extra measures to improve communication between the members. In this article, we are going to share some tips on how to create open communication and thus build trust in your remote team.

#1 Organize Virtual Coffee Breaks

As we have already mentioned, team members have no opportunity for physical coffee talks when working remotely. But who said that those breaks must involve physical co-location? Modern video conferencing tools can help bring people together even if they are in opposite parts of the world. Just choose the most suitable time within the time zones overlap and devote 15 to 30 minutes to informal talk between the members. Once per week would be enough but you can choose the interval that suits your team best.

#2 Organize Away Days & Team Buildings

Although your team is remote or distributed, you can invest in physical meetings at least once or twice a year. If you have headquarters, you can invite the remote team members to your office and run a hackathon or similar event together with the in-house team. If you do not have a centralized office and your company is 100 % distributed, you can choose a location that is convenient for all team members in terms of distance. During these meetings, the participants will get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Such practices are very likely to strengthen their team spirit and thus positively impact their productivity.

#3 Meet Each Team Member In Person

When leading remote teams, it is especially important to know each of your remote employees personally. It does not necessarily mean being together in the same location – you can start with regular one on one virtual meetings. During those meetings, you can talk about how this person feels about their work, are they satisfied with everything or have any problem areas, what are their strength and weaknesses, and so on. Such personal talks can help you build relationships with each team member and make them feel that you care about what they do for your company.

#4 Embrace Asynchronous Communication

Remote teams use this term to define communication between people who are located in different time zones and just cannot interact with each other throughout the day. In co-located environments, communication mostly occurs here and now, i.e. synchronously. On the contrary, virtual teams can rarely remain in sync, so their work is coordinated mostly online and asynchronously. Asynchronous communication enables the members to exchange information with a delay in time. As a result, they can send and receive data at a convenient time for each participant, independently of each other.

The market is now full of tools built specifically for asynchronous communication. Some remote teams even develop their own tools in the form of discussion groups and topic threads instead of live conferencing. For example, Slack channels are good for that.

So, tapping into such tools will boost the efficiency of your remote workers because such communication gives them time and space to focus on important work without disruption. Many known companies are already doing that and sharing the best practices on their websites, e.g. Buffer shares the guidelines on remote collaboration in their blog.

#5 Use Tools For Remote Teams

Except for tools for asynchronous communication that we have already talked about, you will need a whole bunch of other apps that will help you boost the remote team communication, such as:

  • Time zone management tools. These apps allow you to quickly check the time zones of your virtual teammates and see who’s online right now. You can customize these tools according to the specifics of your company and set them up to include the locations of the remote workers. Examples: Timezone.io, Homeslice, Teleport Sundial.
  • Project management tools. With these apps, your team members will always remain up to date with the product backlog and their current tasks whereas you will be able to track their progress. Examples: Trello, Asana, Jira.
  • Video conferencing tools. Use as much video as you can both for formal and informal meetings. Luckily, the modern video conferencing tools have been built with the specifics of remote teams in mind, so they are faster and more convenient than their predecessors. Examples: Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack Video Calls.

The Bottom Line

Communication between remote team members is a challenging task because it does not occur as naturally as in a co-located setting. Therefore, you need to take explicit measures to improve communication in a remote team. Our tips are as follows:

  • Organize virtual coffee breaks
  • Organize team buildings
  • Meet each employee in person
  • Embrace asynchronous communication
  • Use tools for remote teams

Hope that these tips will help you motivate your virtual team. Good luck!



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