Communication Management for Remote Teams

Man communicating with team remotely via laptop

Why you should care about remote work.

Are you a business owner thinking about transitioning to a remote workforce? Have you already made the change but aren’t getting the results you expected? Remote work has grown by 44% in the last five years. Some businesses are outsourcing certain job functions like legal, customer service, or content creation. Other companies have gone fully remote, eliminating the need for costly office space and physical equipment. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to improve communications with your remote team. We’ll start with the current state of remote work in this economy, and then we’ll review some helpful tools to get all your team members working in sync. Finally, we’ll cover some basic strategies to help you communicate easily and effectively with your remote workforce.

Software for remote work communication.

One way to help boost productivity and facilitate communication is to experiment with tools specifically designed to keep everyone on the same page. As a remote organization, you’ll have to communicate more efficiently and effectively, and these tools will help you on your mission. 

Online chat. 

Businesses with remote workers need to use an online chat tool to help facilitate conversations between team members. Common chat tools include Skype, Teams, and Slack. Many employees keep several chat tabs open at once, creating a running history of conversations with bosses, peers, and subordinates. Chat tools help employees feel more connected by offering them an informal way to keep in contact. 

Voice and video calls. 

Remote workers need a bit more person-to-person interaction than an online chat can provide. When they have a serious, complex topic to discuss or a meeting with multiple team members, employees may want to schedule a video chat or conference call. 

While a conventional phone works well for some interactions, more complex software offers serious advantages. Platforms like Skype and Zoom allow teams to see each other in person. Especially now, as communities embrace social distancing, getting face time in with colleagues facilitates better group cohesion. Plus, programs like Zoom allow you to record conversations, which you can then distribute to the entire team after the call. 

For call recordings and transcripts, try playing around with programs like Otter, which create a text-searchable transcript of each meeting. 

Of course, not every work issue requires a video call. One of the reasons remote work has become so popular is that it boosts employee productivity. Scheduling several video chats each day probably causes significant distraction. Be cautious of overscheduling video calls, and only hold them when necessary.

Asynchronous tools.

When you employ a remote workforce, you unlock a wave of productivity by taking advantage of asynchronous work—different people working at different times. 

For example, some of your employees may prefer to sleep in, while others like to work through the evening instead. In a remote work environment, everyone can work during their times of peak productivity.

Team members working at different times often accomplish more than if they were working simultaneously. For example, if you have two employees working on a presentation, one employee could start in the early morning. In the early afternoon, the two individuals could take the time to coordinate and resolve issues. Then, the second employee could take the lead until late in the evening. In this scenario, employees can work on a given project for 12 or 14 hours a day instead of the conventional eight-hour workday. 

You can extend this principle even further when you employ people in different countries. Employees in Shanghai, Madrid, and Chicago can all take turns working on a project, handing off the document to the next time zone as they finish their day’s work. 

However, to unlock these benefits, you need a strong asynchronous tool to support your personnel. While employees’ days may overlap to an extent, enabling phone calls and video chats, much of their communication should occur on a program that everyone can access on their own time. By creating a clear record of conversations, assignments, and project statuses, you help keep your team running smoothly.

Hardware for effective communication. 

Now that you’re running a remote business, you need to think about ensuring your people have what they need to be successful. We’ve covered some helpful software for remote communication, but these simple pieces of hardware also play a crucial role.

Consider providing or subsidizing some (or all) of the following for your employees: 

  • High-quality webcams

  • Microphones or headsets that reduce ambient noise

  • Desks, chairs, or lamps to improve video call appearance

A few simple investments in communications hardware can help make your team much more effective.

Communication tips for remote workers. 

Once your workers have all the communication tools they need, you’ll want to cover a few best practices to help make your team masters of communication. 

  • Consider context. Whenever you send a communication, consider the context. Is your colleague just waking up on the other side of the world? Does it seem like they’re burned out? Is a supervisor copied on an email? Take a moment to think before you hit “Send.” 

  • Keep it short. Everyone is busy. Remote workers prize brevity. Use only as many words as you need to get your point across.

  • Don’t make assumptions. When you write an email, make sure to include relevant background, documents, and goals. A well-crafted email might take an extra minute or two to compose, but it’ll prevent miscommunications and follow-up down the road. 

  • Look professional. If your coworkers only see you once or twice a week via video chat, look your best for those face-to-face interactions. This goes for your workspace, too. You may also want to invest in a desk lamp to brighten your environment. 

Make remote communication work for you.

Remote work opens up a wealth of opportunities, including cost savings, greater flexibility, and the power of asynchronous work. However, remote teams are only as effective as their communication strategies. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you’ll set yourself up for success.

See Workfront in action

In this interactive tour, you will get hands-on experience using Workfront. You will learn how Workfront enables the enterprise to:

  • Connect strategy to delivery
  • Iteratively plan and prioritize work
  • Collaborate across teams and divisions to get work done
  • Streamline and optimize processes
  • Measure and report on progress
  • Deliver against your strategy