How To Overcome the Communication Barriers for Remote Employees
Remote working is no more a new phenomenon. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a massive cultural shift among workers. Remote working culture has now taken a central place, and employees around the globe have been adjusting their seats to meet their organizational needs.
With companies going remote abruptly, employees across the globe are going through a crisis. Since most of the global workforce is not used to it, they were unprepared for many problems caused by this sudden shift.
One of the significant challenges they are facing is communication. Team collaboration is affected as transparency is compromised. There is no team participation, face-to-face access to peers, or brainstorming sessions over coffee. You can no longer walk over to a colleague's desk to chat, schedule a meeting in person, or call someone up for a project update.
All these communication blocks are taking a significant toll on employee engagement and morale. Understandably, a similar level of engagement is not easy now. And the workflow is bound to get affected due to communication barriers.
Listen to our podcast on: How to keep communication open for remote employees with Amit Malik.
Here are Some Actionable Tips to Follow to Overcome Communication Challenges.
Guidelines and protocols are essential to keep everyone on the same page.
Here is what you can add to your guidelines-
- The tools and programs that everyone uses: To minimize distractions and miscommunication
- Work hour routine and availability of your employees at specific hours: To maximize productivity and keep the team aligned.
- To be available in meetings and conferences: To build trust and team dynamics.
- Sufficient waiting time for a response: For effective collaboration and time management.
- Keeping team members updated about the projects: To maintain workflow.
Since it is difficult to maintain transparency while working remotely, a set of guidelines can help overcome this challenge and keep the team dynamics in place.
Use Common Communication Tools
The purpose behind it is to keep everyone engaged and communicate effectively during working hours and overcome any miscommunication that can take place. There are hundreds of communication tools. Choose the one that is more accessible and suits your culture. Use standard communication tools to connect with your teams. If your employees use different tools for connecting, it becomes challenging to bring efficiency. For example, if you choose Zoom for video conferencing or Slack for chat, make sure the entire team uses it.
Face-to-face communication is crucial. It builds camaraderie, boosts productivity and overall collaboration. Employees going remote, the benefits of face-to-face communication are compromised. Audio calls and chats are great but have their limitations. Mainly when it comes to share files and, at the same time, brief your peers or teams about a project. Video conferencing is an effective most mode of communication in that respect.
Here if you connect through audio or chat apps, it would be time-consuming for all. Therefore, organizing regular video conferencing helps you do that effectively.
Project Management System
One of the significant blocks of communication is to make the employees accountable and responsible for their tasks. In simple words, maintain a transparent workflow. Project Management Tools like Asana or Trello can help you monitor that activity. Management tools can help you save time and keep track of the workflow. It helps team members stay updated and work collaboratively with their peers. If you have regular scrum meetings where you have to update on the projects and tasks assigned to you, having a workflow can be a savior. To overcome this barrier, have a project management system in place.
And it not feasible for anyone to keep calling each other for every project update.
Keep The Door Open
Maintain transparency. Always keep the door open for your employees. Be proactive, and always be there for them. Please encourage them to ask questions and share their concerns. It would be best to give them transparency and a sense of trust to put forward their views. It will encourage them to discuss work issues openly and proactively. Also, provide them with a sense of respect that will boost their productivity and keep them satisfied.
Feedback is a great motivator. Either positive or constructive, it can transform your team. Employees suffer when they are deprived of feedback. Constructive feedback allows employees to improve, and positive feedback boosts their confidence and morale.
Do not put the culture of feedback on the back burner when it comes to your remote employees. Today when the world merged digitally, there are ample opportunities and tools to keep the feedback loop going even when your employees are remote working. You can use recognition platforms or face-to-face calls to keep that feedback loop active.
Make That Extra Effort
When you are in a workplace setting, it is easy to build camaraderie and trust. But the same takes a back seat when your employees are working remotely. The long-term disadvantage is that employees might lose their morale and might no longer remain engaged. Therefore, it is crucial to keep that in check by doing some team-building activities. It can be anything from getting everyone onboard for an off-topic group chat or providing them fringe benefits to keep them happy and satisfied.
At these crucial times, remote working has become a savior for the economy. It will sustain itself in the future too. Therefore, it is better to accept this new way of work culture and try to overcome the communication challenges it brings.