“Communication either makes a remote-first company remote-friendly or breaks it.”
Due to the global pandemic, the surge of remote work in the past two years offered many lessons and solutions. By now, we can safely say that we have remote work figured out, with remote employers and remote employees reaching the consensus that communication is key in remote work. Well-structured communication systems and communication processes build effective working relationships, keeping everyone well-informed and working in sync.
Rethink communication as remote teams.
Communication among remote workers is fully digital. However, it is not the same as social media or messaging applications in digital communication. There are several communication norms in remote work communication that are unique, effective, and professional and we have listed them down for you!
1. Set asynchronous communication as the default.
Asynchronous communication doesn’t require on-the-spot replies. You can reply at your own convenience which means you can take your time in analyzing every detail, do some research, and give the message a good, long thought before responding.
Asynchronous communication gives you control over how and when to communicate. Basically, you can fit communication into your schedule which allows more productivity. This enables you to have a protective space for productive work and engage in informatively thorough communication.
Remote workers who work in different time zones benefit immensely from asynchronous communication as they can reply during their regular work hours.
It’s for these reasons your remote teams should set asynchronous communication as their default.
2. Contextualize your messages properly.
It’s easy to lose the important context of a message that you send when working remotely – especially during the composition stage, creating communication gaps and lags. Checking your message more than once to ensure it’s fully contextualized before hitting the “Enter” or “Send” button is highly recommended.
You must include the relevant background information, resources, and links for any interaction – make sure not to miss anything. Practice this thoroughness in the contextualization of your message whether it’s an update, announcement, inquiry, or new work request.
3. Make overcommunication the mantra.
Overcommunication is closely related to contextualizing – by overcommunicating, you get down to the tiniest details so that the person you’re conveying your message to isn’t left assuming or interpreting your message based on their own understanding. Overcommunication also means a protracted exchange of information whereby you converse with your remote co-workers and manager over a period of time.
It’s okay if you feel like you’re overemphasizing or underestimating the understanding capacity of the person you are communicating with. Iteration in a remote work setting is completely valid; it’s the core of overcommunication.
4. Maintain transparency.
It’s a good thing that asynchronous communication in written, audio or video format done on telecommunication applications is traceable, hence, making the message transparent. The search tab is a lifesaver – nothing you put on MS Teams, for example, gets lost.
Always record meetings for the asynchronous consumption of those who couldn’t join.
Remote work communication “lives and evolves” because organizations are living entities that evolve.
You must treat your remote communication as a living system that needs regular re-visitations, transitions, and upgrades. These constant processes accommodate employee time zones, team sizes, and digital toolkit changes.
As a remote-first company without a physical office, Genashtim utilizes remote work communication across digital communication platforms for more integrated and effective remote communicative collaborations.
From Skype and Yahoo mail, Genashtim gradually moved to use MS Teams and Outlook as its primary remote work communication tools. The company’s remote IT department, Abled Online, constantly informs staff about MS Teams and Outlook’s updates. This goes a long way in making Genashtim’s remote communication model effective, open, and dynamic.
Make remote communication as your company’s “living and breathing” culture by providing practical solutions for seamless interaction.
Informal communication among remote staff helps consolidate your company’s remote work culture.
Weekly, fortnightly, and monthly virtual coffee sessions with your team, department, and inter-department colleagues can help foster a remote-first/remote-friendly communication culture.
Non-work related activities such as games, puzzles, and get-to-know-each-other exercises during the virtual coffee sessions are great vehicles to build camaraderie and strengthen the company’s remote communication culture.
Impromptu “watercooler conversations” are as important as the planned virtual coffee sessions – the casual conversation topics can range from the weather to the recent vacation you went on. Don’t forget to share photos!
Conclusively, a remote company cannot do without robust communication systems applied at all levels.
Virtual collaborations can be messy, entangled across different digital tools, wrapped in a skein of comments, chat and email threads, files, and whatnot. You can avoid such communication fragmentation and stay visible and efficient by establishing and implementing some basic communication protocols and rules of engagement. This keeps everyone properly informed as clear expectations and instructions are completely conveyed.
Building the right communication structure is ongoing as telecommunication tools are constantly being developed. This process should reinforce your company’s communication culture.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all remote communication process. Find out what works for you, your remote teams, departments, and ultimately your organization.