Communication is one of the cornerstones of a successful business. This is especially true of remote teams, who need to stay connected in order to ensure that work is getting done in a timely manner. Thankfully, today's digital solutions mean that reaching out to team members is a breeze. As such, the next step is to figure out how to establish a culture of open communication with your team to make sure everyone stays productive. To that end, below are five surefire tips when it comes to effectively communicating within remote teams.
Establish clear guidelines
Remote work allows everyone to be flexible and set their own work hours, but TODAY reports that the lack of separation between work and home can also lead to burnout. Establishing clear communication guidelines can help mitigate this pressure. For instance, setting boundaries for when your team can and can't message you, gives them an idea of how to structure their workflow to make sure you're available to answer questions. Letting your team know how to escalate problems also makes for straightforward communication since team members aren't scrambling to find solutions.
Give deadlines where possible
This is connected to the previous point, but is worth mentioning on its own. Whether you're planning a meeting or asking for a revision, giving a set deadline means your team isn't working more than they have to. In fact, this practice can extend beyond huge requests. If a team member is asking for help while you're in the middle of something (and the request isn't urgent), let them know when you'll be free to chat — whether it's five minutes or an hour. This takes the pressure off of them as they wait for your reply while allowing you to finish your work. Of course, the flip side to this is that you'll have to honor your word and be free at the given time.
Have individual check-ins with your team
Scheduling individual check-ins shows each team member that you care about them, even if you aren’t physically working in the same space. Indeed, an overview of workplace wellness initiatives by Pain Free Working cites the importance of looking beyond physical health when it comes to caring for your team. Offering perks like flexible work hours and meditation programs help remind your employees that life isn’t all about work. Taking the time to check in on them can also go a long way in providing emotional support and making your employees feel valued.
Focus on tracking goals
Micromanaging hardly ever works. If your team is relying on a time-tracking app that covers hours worked, don't feel pressured to check in and make sure they're abiding by a strict schedule. Tracking employee progress according to the tasks they complete shows that you trust them enough to keep their own hours. This also trains your employees to focus on fully completing the task at hand versus being pressured to chase hours.
Remember to give feedback
Lastly, don't forget the power of feedback. Entrepreneur's guide to common remote management mistakes cites the lack of feedback as a huge problem that can lead to demotivation and low morale. When employees feel like they can't reach you for feedback, it can make them feel distant from those in management and a lot less motivated to work. Coaching your employees and offering constructive suggestions on improving their performance shows them that you care about their progress.
Our previous post on Leadership in Managing Multiple Locations highlights that building a solid sense of collaboration empowers employees and helps your business thrive. Communication is the key to success, and abiding by these guidelines sets an example that your team can follow.
- Article specially written for mpexsolutions.com by Allida Duchin