We know that regular communication is crucial to ensure teams remain connected, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation that can manifest when working remotely.
But how and when should managers communicate with their teams to protect their well-being, particularly in times of crisis? Take a look at 8 tips to help you get communication with your remote team right.
Keep your team in the loop
To minimize uncertainty, keep your team up to date with what is going on at an organization level during group meetings, and send official updates around any specific company news (especially news that affects them) so employees have it for reference. Almost two-thirds of Canadian professionals 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.
Take advantage of technology
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 meetings both productive and stimulating.
Continue team meetings and socials
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.
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.
Establish a communication structure
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.
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.
Gain feedback from your staff
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 feel they lack a voice in their team.
Show your appreciation
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 visualize 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.
Know when NOT to communicate
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 around conducting social chat around WhatsApp groups and respect the boundaries people have between work and home life.
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