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Communication Practices for Remote Teams

Feb 19, 2021Coaching0 comments

Whether your team regularly works remotely or they started working from home due to the pandemic, communicating with a remote team brings definite and different challenges. You might face difficulties trying to schedule meetings. You might find it tricky to get everyone on the same page. Thankfully, communicating with a remote team doesn’t have to be so difficult.

It helps to put some best practices in place to create a more coherent work environment. Here are some communication best practices for remote teams

Make asynchronous writing your default

This means you and your team do not have to be on a call at the same time. You do not need to rely on real-time communication. Instead of chatting with someone on a virtual platform to discuss project details, you may want to consider switching to asynchronous writing by sending details and messages via email. Give the team 24 hours to consider and understand the contents. This leads to many advantages, including increased transparency, creativity, and thinking time. 

Make sure the message aligns with the channel

Once you move to more asynchronous writing, it’s important to consider the channel. Communication channels are defined as the way people communicate and interact with each other. Not every topic is appropriate for email, chat or video call. You may want to consider matching the message to the channel. This means all messages are delineated to specific channels based on their importance or urgency. 

Promote quiet time

People need quiet, uninterrupted time to think and get work done. This is why silence is so very important on a remote team. To promote quiet as a communication best practice, you may want to ask your team members and themselves, “How important is this? Can it wait a few minutes, a few hours, even a few days? Don’t take someone from their work unnecessarily.” When your team members are working remotely, everyone should be aware of how their communication can pull others’ attention in distinctly different directions. 

Create a “How We Communicate” document

This document can answer questions such as “What are the intended working hours for each team member?” and “What are the overlapping working hours for staff members in different time zones?” Leaders can use this document to help align their team members and help onboard new people. Keep it simple and don’t penalize team members if they make a mistake by not following it exactly. As with any good process, its value comes from how well it helps your team. 

Emphasize empathy

Empathy is even more important in a remote environment since you can’t see in-person cues, such as body language. To overcome this obstacle, using video calls to give you the next best thing to being in the same room. It is very important that everyone extends more grace when giving and receiving communication. Even when a message appears curt, assume positive intent behind it. The other person may have other issues weighing on their mind.

Communication is key, no matter where your team members work. By implementing the best practices above, you will begin to cultivate a remote team that works cohesively. And this will help you thrive. 

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