7 Strategies For Remote Work Communication
As the world makes working remotely more and more possible, it’s time to figure out how to stay close with your colleagues while you’re away from each other!
Many people assume it’s business as usual, but if you want things to keep rolling seamlessly, it’s worth taking the time to understand the changes and how YOU can make a few positive changes in order to do more with the new normal of interaction.
Here are the top 7 strategies that are crucial to keeping communication effective and engaging when working remotely with others. Let’s have a look!
1. Active Listening
Never has it been more important to attentively listen to others. Even with advantages such as video calling, there are fewer cues to understand what someone else is really saying.
In fact, with technical hurdles such as lag/delay, connection errors, and audio issues, if you’re impatient and quick to speak instead of listen, you’re likely to miss the point of other’s speeches. Moreso, when you repeatedly deny the importance of what someone has to say, they’ll be less inclined to share openly and contribute to the conversation.
This can be incredibly important for managers and supervisors, who need to balance their employee’s input with giving orders and tasks. Be sure to respond to input, whether it’s a question or suggestion, or just someone expressing themselves, and acknowledge what your team has to say.
What other methods can improve your active listening skills?
2. Making Meetings Interactive
Even the best lectures have an opportunity for feedback and questions. When holding meetings with your team, be sure to open them up so others can speak and demonstrate as well
This is also a great way to improve engagement. People are much more likely to pay attention when they feel involved in the conversation, and less likely to zone out when they’re not just sitting there listening for long periods of time.
You can either host an open meeting where anyone can chime in at any time, or make frequent stops to check in with your participants. You can even ask people directly for their thoughts, to help motivate people to participate more actively.
How else can you make meetings more interactive?
3. Laughter Is The Best Remedy
Are your meetings feeling dull? Not getting the input and support you need to make progress from group discussions? Try injecting some humor!
While we may be using computers more for communicating, humans certainly don’t communicate robotically. We use creativity and emotion to build relationships with the people in our lives. And there’s good reason for this: personal talk breeds trust and allows others to feel more comfortable both giving and receiving criticism. A few minutes of icebreakers will open up the channels between you and your team for better and more effective communication.
Keep in mind that, even if you’re working from home, you still need to balance the personal with the professional — keep your business goals in focus, and remember that you’re looking to build those relationships from a place of respect, not derision.
How can you add some levity to your day-to-day conversations?
4. Follow-Up In Writing
Even if you record your meetings, or your conversations with clients and colleagues, it’s always worth it to send a confirmation.
Email is by no means the new snail mail — while video calls and presentations let us communicate more effectively when we have time to spend with others, email lets us capture the keynotes quickly.
This could be sending an email reminder of a planned appointment, or recapping your meeting notes so everyone can stay on the same page. It shows the other person that you were paying attention, and that your discussion was important to you. Plus it can help deter any future miscommunications.
What are some other good times to touch base in writing?
5. Making Training A Treat
When you deliver training to new or existing employees, you want it to be uniform and cohesive. But that doesn’t have to mean boring!
Technology allows us to use a variety of exciting visual and auditory tricks to make our content more appealing, not to mention to roll it out a lot quicker. Think how much time you can save making a clean, beautiful graphic once instead of drawing something out by hand on a whiteboard for each new group you speak to.
Other ways to improve engagement include adding quizzes, games, and additional content such as downloadable documents and worksheets. Even if you feel forced to revisit your training programs because of the pandemic, you should see it as an opportunity to make better quality content that will be more effective in the future.
What else helps people learn and retain your policies and processes?
6. Set (And Stick To) A Schedule
Nobody likes to take their work home with them in the proverbial sense, but it’s easier said than done when you literally work from home!
Make sure your team sets their agreed upon hours in advance. Make sure no one is left uninvolved by having to work alone; everyone needs to be able to communicate to their colleagues to catch up and exchange information. Consider setting daily or weekly touchpoint meetings so everyone stays connected.
In addition, respect others’ time! This means being on time when you set meetings, and following up to inquiries in a timely manner. Discuss turnaround times, and show your commitment to them, so you all know you can rely on each other.
How can you improve your group’s schedule and still remain flexible?
7. Effective Encouragement
It happens sometimes that we need to be critical of others for work related purposes. This could be the case when offering feedback on something that needs improvement, or pointing out mistakes in someone else’s work that require correction.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand that the relationship with your coworkers is as important as the work itself. When delivering criticism, it needs to be constructive and respectful. Feedback should be encouraging, and reflect how you want to support them, not tear them down.
Think about it as giving advice, not insults. And always keep your input in moderation. The last thing you want is for your colleagues to hate the idea of speaking to you, because then you risk not just having ineffective communication, but no communication at all!
How else can you make people want to communicate, even about the harder topics?