How do you improve communication for remote teams?

Effective communication is essential for remote teams. Here are some ways you can improve remote team communication.

Short answer: focus on quality over quantity of communication.

When it comes to effective communication, quality is what matters. Effective internal communication does not mean more meetings. Overwhelming team members with Slack messages and email does not improve internal communication. Moreover, inundating and overwhelming employees with communication volume can actually backfire. It can create an atmosphere of micromanagement that breaks down trust and employee experience.

This is especially dangerous with remote employees. Managers of remote workers may have an urge to “check-in” more often with their out of sight employees. The manager may think they are keeping the employee connected to the team with these frequent contact points. The employee, however, may interpret this as a form of verification, that the manager is making sure they are indeed working.

Instead of quantity, focus on quality. To help employees and improve the quality of your good communication:

  • Designate specific formats for sharing critical information. How (and where) do employees communicate their focus for the week? How (and where) do team members alert the group to important decisions or sudden delays or arising problems?

  • Establish a cadence to communication. Create designated times for team members to share information on a regular basis. These do not have to be meetings. Instead, use online communication tools to create a framework. Create a rhythm of sharing information. Individuals can signal to others what they are working on, where they may need assistance, how a project is tracking, and debrief how the week went.

  • Resist the urge to check-in/check-up on employees. Channel needed information sharing into the previously established formats and cadence. For everything else, create a virtual open door that encourages two-way communication between your team and you. Focus on reinforcing trust and the common goals of the team, not on micromanaging.

  • Celebrate accomplishments and wins. Vocalizing compliments and broadcasting achievements are always important. They are essential for employee morale, however, when working remotely. Find ways to praise employees (and for them to compliment each other) with regularity. This is critical for relationship-building across the team. It strengthens connection when individuals are working in physical isolation.

  • Measure your remote collaboration. That’s right: know how well you and your team are communicating by looking at the actual data. Assess your strengths and your areas for improvement in your organizational culture. (Pro tip: check out OrgVitals for an easy-to-use culture dashboard that gives you real-time people analytics to measure how well you work together).

Mark, an experienced remote worker, added that:

"One way to improve internal communications is by creating a shared calendar. By having access to everyone’s calendars, workers can see exactly what they have scheduled at any given time. They can look up a person’s availability and suggest a specific time for meetings across timezones."