Remote Work – Guaranteeing Effective Communication
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Remote Work & Team Communication - a Special Challenge?
Berlin start-ups are in an exceptional situation. The Coronavirus is forcing teams to utilize 'home office' for the first time, thus presenting us with a fiat accomplice. For the first time, companies have to seriously consider remote work structures as part of the employee experience design rather than just as an employee 'perk.'
Why do some companies find it easier than others to manage remote workers?
We've researched successful remote organizations to collect best practices and actionable strategies and discovered that remote work should be ingrained in the employee experience design. Here are steps to set up, manage and develop remote teams. Let's start with communication:
One could argue that completely decentralized or hybrid teams have a (small) competitive disadvantage over their internal colleagues when it comes to the possibilities of personal communication. Less "offline" contact with colleagues can affect both team cohesion and company productivity.
At the same time, one can, of course, wonder how efficient are most in-house meetings?
However, when most interactions between colleagues take place via screens, apps, and devices, it can be difficult to build trust, relationships and accountability between team members. There are also non-verbal cues such as tone, pitch, and body language that help us to perceive communication. These cues also give us context. Otherwise, we might misinterpret them.
This can lead to less engagement and slow down individual career growth, but it can also reduce motivation and loyalty.
A 2017 Harvard Business Review study found that many remote workers in poorly organised remote structures feel isolated and even excluded. Fearing that their colleagues would not communicate changes to projects that affect them.
So what's the secret? The most successful and high-performing remote workers all have one thing in common: they know how to build solid relationships and retain dedicated employees through flawless communication. They deliberately build structures for synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Effective Communication Practices for Remote Working
As a 100% remote team, we have gained first-hand experience in the structures that need to be created so that we can avoid any bottlenecks in communication.
Define: Online and Availability
We at DRIVE!MPACT work across 2 time zones. To maximize the overlap, each team member carries out remote work within certain times and all employees are online for three core hours every day. Ensuring that everyone is involved in company-wide meetings or available in Slack when quick responses are needed. We also set blockers that allow everyone to see when meetings that affect all team members can be scheduled.
Weekly Remote Check-ins
We meet as a team for a short daily check-in via video call on Google Hangout. That way everyone knows what their direct team members are working on every day. This leaves no room for speculation or misunderstandings. Also, there is a writer who records what each team member is committed to this week as objectives. This document is shared afterward with everyone in an e-mail.
Our entire team meets every Monday for a Zoom video conference. A spokesperson from each team presents the achievements of the past week and what they will work on this week. That way everyone is informed about the most important issues and can stay informed even with remote work. All meetings can be recorded on Zoom. This means if someone can't attend, he or she can simply watch the video recording later.
Workshops are training can also be done online, learn the best practices to running remote workshops here. Interested in an online workshop for your company? See how we can support you with our trainings and workshops. Read 6 tips for a successful remote meeting by our partner Welcome to the Jungle.
Non-Verbal Communication- Slack Emoji's
Startups love Slack! We use it as a second main communication tool besides emails. Also, collaboration and communication in remote work can be improved by Slack. Emojis are a good way to show the team your status. You can use a special emoji if you are not available at a certain time because you are in calls or don't want to be disturbed. This way you can let your team know when they can reach you and when you're not available. It's essential to set expectations about a timeframe for when responses or callbacks should take place.
Work with Objectives and Key Results
Why should you consider working with OKRs? First of all, it is a question of mindset. We believe that successful companies are the ones who trust their employees and coach them to think entrepreneurial by setting their own goals, this is perhaps even more important with remote work. Nevertheless, this can only happen if the employees are also transparently involved in the events and strategic goals of the company. Not only in management but in all levels of hierarchy. We can easily set and communicate goals and gain the confidence that everyone is working together towards a shared goal.
OKRs have enabled us to bring alignment and transparency to businesses even with remote work. We can adjust to shifting priorities in our check-ins, without losing focus on the company’s overarching objectives. Furthermore, we engage the team with transparency and enable them to see first-hand how their contributions are impacting the success of the business. Read more about OKRs here.
The best part is we can expand business productivity by making it easier for the team to work together cohesively, even as priorities change. By trusting in your team and giving them direction, you can save a lot of time with meetings. Your employees know the WHAT and you entrust them to figure out the HOW. Contact us for information on how we can help you set up OKR systems in your company.
Meet for Co-working or Lunch
Just because you don't share the same break room with remote work it doesn't mean you can't have lunch together. Use the "off-topic" slack channel to arrange to meet up, whether it's for lunch together or for working together in a cafe or co-working space, these are great ways of bringing human interaction into remote work. At DRIVE!MPACT we don't have an office, but we do pay our employees a fixed monthly amount which they can use for co-working.
Finding the right balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication is crucial for employees and remote work. Synchronous communication, in particular, helps employees to develop interpersonal relationships organically. Asynchronous communication, on the other hand, often serves to make knowledge easily accessible to everyone in the company.
To ensure first-class communication between your team, develop an internal communication plan and the right mindset for remote work from day one, engraining it into your employee experience design. This ensures that all team members follow the same standards. Give your team the structure and tools to feel connected and heard, as well as motivated and productive.
Read more on great remote activities for team building in our blog article:How digital events and activities can strengthen your company culture during isolation
Are you curious about a concise remote work process development for your entire company or just specific teams?