This year, more than ever, remote work has become a staple of the workplace. According to Flexjobs, we've seen a 44% growth rate in remote work opportunities over the last 5 years alone. This year was no exception.
Maintaining effective communication is very important for businesses to run efficiently. Increased communication - working remotely or working onsite - has a number of benefits including increased morale, productivity, and trust.
Here are five tips for maintaining effective communication in the virtual workplace.
Schedule Regular Meetings
Scheduling consistent and frequent calls with your team give you an opportunity to sync up and make sure priorities for the day or the week are set.
These types of meetings ensure that there are no challenges moving forward and you can address anything that is urgent or important.
Since working remotely can leave a workplace feeling scattered, these meetings also serve as a chance to connect on a deeper personal level as well. Allow for some time to socialize and let everyone feel connected to each other. Not only will it improve communication, but morale as well.
Use Tools at Your Disposal to Keep the Lines Open
How you communicate can be just as important as what you communicate. With so many different tools at our disposal, it’s important to choose which ones suit your needs the best and ensure your employees the greatest level of communication with each other.
Video conference tools such as Zoom and GoToMeeting have become more popular because they offer the option to join via video or phone call, which makes it easier for everyone to connect in the best way for them. Whatever tools you use, make sure you keep them “sharpened.” Keep your applications and systems up to date to make sure that no breakdowns happen.
Have an Open Line for Feedback
Feedback is always important in the workplace, remote or not, but making sure everyone has their concerns addressed is probably the most crucial part of making sure they are able to communicate effectively.
Don’t assume that the choices for tools you’ve made will work for everyone. Give them time to explore the tools, and then ask for their feedback. See if there is a way to address their concerns to make their job easier and, if necessary, explore other options.
Make Important Information Easily Accessible
Preserving information is easier than ever. Most virtual meetings can be recorded for use at a later date, online schedules can be synched up, and information can be shared with whoever needs it. Making sure that information is easily accessible can help you avoid misunderstandings and confusion.
Record important meetings when possible to make sure absentees don’t miss out on the information not included in slides. Have note sheets ready and make them easy to find on a shared company drive like a company intranet or Google Drive.
Set Expectations for Your Team
Once you have all the pieces in place and are set up for success, you need to make sure you are personally communicating your expectations with your team. Trust them to be able to do the job you’ve given them. Make sure important tasks are scheduled, easily available for viewing, and everyone is on the same page.
If you are an individual contributor within an organization, communicate your workflow items with your team, and set your team's expectations. If they are relying on you for certain data, it's important they know how much you have going on so that they don't waste valuable time. This is where Agile Project Management and the daily standup meetings can become even more important.