Effective Communication with your Remote Team

by Louise Campbell, Managing Director Robert Walters Ireland

It’s now more important than ever for managers to implement best practices to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation that can manifest in employees when working remotely. We have outlined 8 tips to help managers best communicate with their teams to stay connected and protect their wellbeing.

Respect offline hours
Whilst communication is key, it shouldn’t be around the clock. Try and keep a degree of separation between work and personal – think for example conducting social chat around WhatsApp groups and respect the boundaries people have between work and home life.

Make time for one-to-one’s
One-to-one, personal conversations are just as important as team meetings to get a sense of how your remote team is feeling. It’s also a chance to intervene early if you’ve spotted any red flags that suggest a team member may be struggling, such as fewer e-mails, not responding to messages, inhibition or complete withdrawal in group communications.

Outline successes
Use the communications platforms at hand to highlight outstanding performances to the team and the wider business that make your employees feel valued. When working remotely, it can be difficult to visualise the impact you’re having, so providing a short ‘good job’ note, highlighting their contribution internally, or even rewarding staff with a thank you lunch delivery can boost morale and help team members regain that sense of purpose.

Provide clarification and certainty
To minimise uncertainty, keep your team up to date with what is going on at an organisation level during group meetings, and send official updates around any specific company news (especially news that affects them) so employees have it for reference. Professionals are beginning to think COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on jobs and unemployment, so do your best to provide clarity on how the business is navigating the situation to stop speculation and panic bubbling to the surface.

Utilise technologies
A lack of face-time or conversation can be isolating for remote workers, so leverage the communication tools you have available so your employees aren’t firing off emails all day. Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype for Business are examples of the video conferencing software that allow teams to stay connected and collaborate, with screen-sharing and IM functionality to make calls both productive and stimulating.

Make the most of team catch-ups
It’s important that team meetings go ahead. Be inclusive during your group meetings – aim for inclusion and balance so everyone feels heard; encourage as much participation as you can so everyone feels involved.

Use the communications platforms at hand to highlight outstanding performances to the team and the wider business that make your employees feel valued.

Consider how you can keep your collective team spirit alive by being inventive about the ways you communicate. Are their any office-based rituals you can recreate remotely? There’s no reason why your team coffee-breaks, team lunches or after work drinks can’t continue virtually!

Decide preferred platforms of communication
As well as scheduling regular team meetings, let people know how and when to contact you, and provide best practice on how communications channels should be used. For example, emails for non-urgent requests, IM for quick questions, phone for urgent queries, scheduled calls for project updates and text when you can’t reach a team member by call.

Encourage open feedback
Where remote working is new for your business, encourage feedback from you staff about what might improve their experience and make them feel more engaged with the business. Knowing their opinion matters helps employees who may they lack a voice in their team.