You may be excited to take on your first remote or distributed work environments. Perhaps an existing employee is going remote, or you were hired to manage a fully distributed team. Whatever the reason may be, there are certainly challenges that come along with communicating with team members in a remote environment.
It’s important to understand that remote teams now come in all shapes and sizes. They can be entirely remote or distributed in specific areas. Though, one thing is sure: The workforce is changing and companies must embrace remote teams to stay competitive. However, several significant factors can either impair or promote remote communication. These factors include:
- Varying digital tools
- Language barriers
- Cultural implications
As a C-Level executive creating a successful communication strategy to contend with these factors is essential. As avid supporters of the future of work, we decided to share 8 C-Level tips to help you communicate better with your remote team.
Create a communication plan.
Executives should schedule a weekly meeting for their teams. This creates a structure for checking in on projects, acknowledging wins, and addressing obstacles. This is also an excellent opportunity for team members to connect on a professional level and get to know each other personally as well.
Adopt a common language.
Remote teams with many different cultural backgrounds are common. and provide a significant advantage since they allow companies to communicate with a larger percentage of the marketplace. However, speaking in more than one language can cause communication issues. Therefore, companies should choose a primary language. More importantly, developing team lingo or expectations is a huge win for helping remote teams get in sync. A common language is not strictly limited to national linguistics but also aspects like:
- Communication etiquette
- Acceptable chat acknowledgments
- Building out task requirements
A common language helps remote teams speak less and do more because they’ve developed a higher efficacy for internal processes.
Over communication in a remote team is a rare problem. Some remote teams even have live work hours to simulate in-person work environments. In the end, more communication means more trust-building, less misunderstanding, and better teamwork. Executives should encourage team members to communicate frequently and check-in if they have questions. Reinforcing a team mindset increases a remote team’s ability to ideate and be agile. As a C-Level executive, more communication can empower team members to help you put out fires or stop fires before they start.
Use standardized tools and communication channels.
Using the right tools is vital to effective communication within a remote team. Moreover, guidance on communication tools is critical, as many different employees will use their past experiences to guide communication habits. Consequently, you should never expect a remote employee to understand your ideal communication methods. The more granular about communication expectations, the better results you will get from your team members.
Build trust and give the benefit of the doubt.
The executive team should create an environment of trust and give team members the ability to self-manage productivity. One method for doing this is to manage teams based on work results as opposed to hours worked.
Take Time Zones into Account.
Addressing time zone differences upfront can save remote teams a lot of hassle and frustration. It may seem like a minor issue, but knowing different time zones is essential for remote team communication. It is one of the biggest problems that a virtual team can face daily. Using time management or scheduling tools that help you understand when someone is available is incredibly helpful and also helps create sustainable long term boundaries, which is essential for distributed teams.
Build Relationships on Video Calls.
One of the obvious benefits of working remotely is the pajama work day concept. Meaning, remote teams rarely need to meet face-to-face. However, video calls help simulate personal communication and often help build camaraderie and better communication with remote teams.
While virtual team meetings can sometimes be more efficient than in-person meetings, they can also be less personal. Executives and managers of remote teams need to check in with team members on a personal level. A simple strategy like starting each meeting with a personal anecdote or weekly win, can break the ice and clear the cobwebs.
Do you currently run a remote team of your own? Feel free to share some communication tips or strategies that have helped you in the past.