In 2019 the Business Insider published the beautiful read about the most challenging things that remote employees had to address in their work.
Just a year and pandemic later, and lots of statements like the difficulties associated with virtual team building or the impossibility to find solutions for inconsistent pay once you go remote sound antics.
The recent Upwork study demonstrated a considerable increase of the number of freelancers in the US in the pandemic that resulted from the global shift to WFH.
The enforced WFH experiment that became a catalyst for fast digitalization of industries disproved fears about structuring remote employees' work or measuring their productivity. However, it does not mean that remote work automatically implies success exclusively on the ground of its globally recognized status.
Resolving communication stays the biggest challenge in remote work and a key point when measuring its success. Communication is always to be a priority but it gets a special significance on the level of remote work management. When going remote, the need for clear messages and prompt feedback is magnified as the only way that compensates the absence of direct social interaction.
No business is blind to the potential of enhancing experience of remote work through communication, which leads to increasing the productivity and, most importantly, engagement metrics as well as making a positive impact on building foundations for more effective collaboration.
Below, we outline 5 best practices that can resolve the remote communication issues and deliver productive solutions for individuals and teams alike.
The Virtual Meeting Management
Virtual meetings are a fantastic way to resolve the problem of lack of communication with ease and boost remote team morale.
Here’s the trouble though: Seeing the value in virtual meetings does not automatically generate the expected positive business outcomes. Otherwise, remote businesses would not encounter what is widely recognized as Zoom fatigue or rightly regarded mismanaged virtual meetings as one of the costliest business bottlenecks associated with unproductive time and human resource overspending.
Bottom Line: Rather than amassing the quantity of the meetings, managers should shift the focus to quality that gets checked with the immediate follow up on:
❓✅virtual meeting agenda (Did we discuss all the planned questions?)
❓ ✅virtual meeting engagement (Did all the attendees have their share to say?)
❓ ✅virtual meeting contribution (Did the meeting solve any specific business goal?)
Prepare Company Remote Communication Policies
While being the only means of remote collaboration, online communication features greater visibility, audibility and readability compared to offline communication mode. It implies that it has a potential for greater collaboration enhancement but, on the other end of spectrum, it might create extra challenges when it comes to recorded data whether it pertains to providing security or privacy.
Bottom Line: Without clearly stated policies, remote teams run risk of slipping in miscommunication. To prevent it, companies diligently work on creating guidelines for remote workers' communication. The guidelines can present comprehensive and detailed documentation but, basically, they respond to:
- availability expectations (they are important for specifying the limit on response time)
- technological expectations (they include equipment standards such as unified channels of communication, and security standards for compliance to legal norms of data privacy maintenance)
- time management requirements (they cover productivity measurement metrics including a proportion of time spent on communication and meetings against actual performance).
Consider the Importance of Unplugging
However vital communication is for proper remote collaboration, it is equally important to master the 'art' of unplugging. The problem stems from technology omnipresence that blurs the lines between work and life. Quoting the experts :
We’re spending our lives glued to screens while the real world passes us by.
Technology overuse has detrimental consequences for wellbeing and, in the long run, for achieving the actual remote communication goals. To reduce the pressure of 'always-on' work culture, businesses must be consistent in stating mental or physical well-being of remote employees as their priority.
Bottom Line: It is proven that, with the need in 7 types of rest , taking time to put everything on pause and disconnect, knowledge workers satisfy the need in many at one and, thus, achieve a higher level of productivity.
Practically speaking, for realizing the idea of unplugging and 'hygienics' of online time use, businesses should consider providing the efficient tool for flexible work like a free time tracker that:
- automatically stores the work time data
- removes mundane and time-consuming tasks of calculations
- lets allocate time for communication needs with ease through integrating in such communication tools as email and audio/video conference services.
Communication Solutions Bundle
Whether they are daily updates or weekly calls, it is vital that remote workers have communication tools of wide capabilities or, if needed, bespoke solutions for ensuring alignment with a project manager, clients and team members.
Bottom Line: To build communication around productivity and wellbeing goals, it is important to think about how employees would typically interact at specific workplace and find tailored solutions to cater to those needs.
Considering preferences can be one of the communication tactics that, in the long run, turns to be a building block in proper communication strategies. For instance, there can be a preference for direct messaging rather than video-based calls. In either case, remote workers will benefit from a bundle of solutions to be able to lead communication timely within the right channel.
The list of proven recommendations includes:
📢 JIRA (can boast of wide project management functionality implying integration of communication as well as time tracking tools)
📢 Microsoft Teams (provides real-time communication catering to internal and external communication needs)
📢 TMetric (enables remote workers to get instant time tracking and reporting)
📢 Google Docs (empowers your communication with file storage and exchange options)
📢 Asana (delivers impeccable project progress tracking in the process of communication)
📢 Google Meet (affordable video calls of high quality).)
Under the lockdown and restrictions imposed by the pandemic, keeping remote workers in the mode of communication sync is easier said than done due to a host of factors including differences in time zones, commitments, family-related obligations (presence of small kids, being a caretaker for older relatives, etc.), and workload in general.
To avoid meeting overlaps and for organizing communication at best, it is essential that employers provide tailored scheduling solutions that will bridge the gap between planning and actual conducting the effective communication.
Bottom Line: A perfect scheduler that guarantees the improvement of remote communication does not have to be over bloated with functions. Yet, when making a choice, we should regard:
- efficient and unobtrusive reminder (with the flexible system of notifications)
- flexibility (in case, participants need to readjust meetings)
- comprehensive calendar view
- simplicity of sharing
- integration with productivity and project management tools
- availability across any device or platforms
- voice-enabled search
- highlighting time slots when the prospective participant is available
- invitation templates as an additional option for scheduling and briefing the participants on details of the expected communication
- time zone converter.
The time tested tools for efficient scheduling include:
📅📆 Time and Date with a built-in time zone converter
📅📆 Calendar that has a functionality of time zone recognition and one-click scheduling
📅📆 Any.do empowers remote workers with a clean calendar view and functions of breaking tasks and events down for a grained view of time allocation possibilities
📅📆Teamup allows participants of communication to be organized by groups, color-code time slots, and assign individual or group tasks within scheduling
📅📆 Undock enables remote teams to get access to the world of predictive scheduling with its instant visibility of optimal meeting times and sending email notifications.
By and large
Seeing potential communication challenges in remote workforce management and addressing them before they become an issue is the guaranteed recipe for successful remote work.
To build the proper communication strategies, employers and remote employees opt for making best of technology use. This way, they achieve efficient scheduling, remove the burden of time tracking, facilitate project management and maintain the balance for keeping communication flow unblocked.