6 Tips for Effective Communication in the Remote Workplace
According to the US Census Bureau, the number of people working from home has tripled in recent years. In 2021, 17.9% of the working population in the US (27.6 million people) worked primarily from home. This number is even higher if you account for hybrid work structures and employees who work from home occasionally.
This arrangement comes with advantages and drawbacks. Flexibility, less time lost to commuting, and greater productivity are positive attributes of having home-based employees.
The biggest challenges to remote work are related to effective communication. Office-based workers may take face-to-face relations for granted. When they need to talk to someone, they can find them easily. Meetings are likewise straightforward to facilitate, and interactions can be spontaneous.
Companies with remote workers need to rely on software to collaborate and communicate in the same ways as their in-office peers. However, the virtual office plan may need to go beyond work-related communications. A company's culture is often strengthened by in-person interactions, events, and professional development opportunities. Companies with work-from-home employees need to find ways to build the same strong culture with remote teams.
Here is a closer look at how to build effective communication in the workplace for remote employees.
Effective communication is essential in every productive workplace.
Firstly, it promotes understanding. Generally, management and decision-makers who communicate effectively ensure employees understand work expectations, ethical guidelines, and daily requirements. Work interactions can also help employees comprehend the personal expectations of managers and co-workers, helping them communicate better with each member of their department or team.
Effective communication in the workplace also increases transparency, which leads to a higher level of trust between co-workers. If goals are clearly defined, and everyone is playing a necessary part in reaching these aims, it brings the entire team closer together and helps them understand the value their co-workers bring to the process.
Finally, feedback is essential for company decision-makers. They need as much data as possible to make informed decisions. With employees communicating their progress, challenges, needs, and performance, executives can make the most informed decisions about the next steps the company can take.
The advantages effective communication brings are attainable in a remote work environment if you can overcome the challenges of a decentralized office.
Some of the most basic challenges for building effective communication strategies for remote workers have to do with logistics, location, and management of the virtual workspace.
Here are three of the most common pitfalls and methods for overcoming them.
Luckily, effective communication strategies in the workplace can limit these potential pitfalls before they become problems.
Here are six of the best ways for improving communication in the workplace for remote employees.
Clear statements are important in the workplace. You want to ensure everyone understands the goal, guidelines, deadlines, and duties they need to perform. This concise communication is even more important in remote work because employees will complete their tasks independently. Misunderstandings could lead to days of lost time.
In addition to clear explanations of expectations and assignments, you can use your virtual office platform to place reminders about tasks, timeframes, and goals that anyone can access when they need a reminder.
If this information is accessible and clearly written, remote workers can check it on their own whenever they need, confirming deadlines and responsibilities without having to reach out to a manager.
Finally, precise, consistent communication can positively impact company morale. If everyone understands their role and expectations of their position, the more likely they will view their job positively.
In some instances, visual aids can help explain complex aspects of a project or task. In virtual meetings, you can display images or visualized data on the screen to enhance your explanations. These visuals can also make meetings more engaging, allowing attendees to follow along with a presentation instead of looking at the talking heads on a video conference screen for the whole time.
Body language is an important aspect of communication. In face-to-face meetings, you can read the body language of others in the room to see if they are engaged, interested, or distracted.
"Reading the room" in this way is more difficult in remote work situations. However, you can utilize video conferencing tools that allow you to get a feel for the body language of the other meeting participants.
Also, with video conferencing software, it can sometimes be easy to forget your own body language. Focus on presenting yourself the same way you would during an in-person meeting.
Remote workers need the right tools to communicate and collaborate. Along with a good plan for managing your remote work teams, you need to carefully select the proper tools.
The "right" tools for your team will depend on their needs and the type of work they do.
Chat, email, and video conferencing tools are typically only part of the answer for decentralized offices. Project management software allows you to establish deadlines and benchmarks, track work, and assign tasks. This type of program also usually has a file-sharing component so workers can upload files or documents and collaborate on them with others.
Virtual office software brings all the communication and collaboration tools to one platform. These systems allow you to share files and collaborate on projects, create working groups and virtual meetings, and customize communication options.
Organization is an essential quality for all remote offices. Because many tasks get completed independently, it is vital to stay on top of the work by making expectations, deadlines, and duties clear from the start.
You also need to provide teams with the resources they need to complete their work efficiently. In addition to file sharing and communication tools, you can provide detailed schedules and other guides so that team members know exactly what to expect.
It can be easy to ignore messages in a remote work setting. Since the other person is not physically there, they cannot chase down an answer to their question. However, smooth, responsive communication can help keep everyone on task and working toward the same goals.
You can set guidelines about how and when employees can contact you, and then try to be available on the platform and respond quickly during those times. You can also hold online meetings with the purpose of giving employees a chance to ask questions, seek clarification, or air concerns.
Effective workplace communication increases productivity and transparency. It helps foster trust between workers and their peers and management and encourages collaboration and teamwork.
Communication is also an essential element in building workplace culture. With the right tools and policies, this effort does not have to be limited to in-person offices. Remote workers can also promote a positive, goals-based virtual office culture.
Effective communication for remote workers is easiest with an all-inclusive virtual platform like Kumospace, which mimics the layout of a real office, allowing users to create work groups, private meetings, and even special team-building or social events. This software allows you to get all your communication tools in one package rather than trying to build a virtual office from scratch yourself.
Communication in the workplace is vital for ensuring everyone is working toward the same goal. With clearly explained expectations and aims, each worker will understand their role and feel like a part of the team.
Communication can also assist with overcoming challenges and conflict in the office, and it helps decision-makers collect the information necessary to make informed judgments about projects, strategies, and processes.
It takes planning and effort to improve communication in a virtual work environment. Without face-to-face interactions, you need to take other steps to ensure effective communication between employees.
Communication tools, including file-sharing systems, video conferencing software, meeting and chat applications, and project management frameworks, help facilitate effective interactions between workers.