You’ve heard it a million times, but the saying “communication is key” cannot be overstated enough. In a remote setting, communication, at minimum, is what keeps a team functional. Every new decision, task, and collaborative effort requires some level of communication to carry out. Even as our remote team communication channels change rapidly with new technological advancements and trends, a team’s performance consistently depends on how well people use the communication tools at their disposal. Active and accessible communication streams keep a remote team in sync, even when distanced by many factors.

The complexity of remote team communication

In an in-person setting, communication comes naturally. Whether employees pass each other coming into work or make plans to meet casually after hours, there is value in the mix of formal and informal bonding. Improved communication can increase quality deliverables, productivity, and the likelihood of meeting and exceeding goals. In the remote setting, these positive effects are the same, if not greater, but the means to reap these benefits are a little more abstract when compared to an in-person setting.

Remote communication has added levels of complexity that can hinder its effectiveness. For example, when you quickly relay a message to a co-worker in person, you know that they received the message at the minimum. When this happens remotely via. email or chat, messages have a tendency to get buried, misinterpreted, or left unattended. Remote communication also faces barriers to clarification. It can be more challenging to type out long-winded explanations than to speak them naturally. Managing these externalities is possible through organization, feedback, and a combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication platforms.

Competencies for communication

Some aspects of remote communication require careful planning and organizational initiative. Managers may need to navigate employees’ schedules across different time-zones and plan farther ahead for a simple meeting than they would for an in-person setting. Communication is failing if it isn’t inclusive and accessible for all team members. Collecting feedback from employees is an excellent way to gauge the effectiveness and convenience of remote communication channels. Managers should be aware of the communication channels at their disposal, use team input to determine the most compatible methods, and ensure teams have the training to use platforms successfully.

A balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication can mimic the natural communication flow achieved organically in an in-person setting. Synchronous communication includes the exchange of information in real-time. It’s your instant message or phone call, and it’s comparable to an employee stopping by your desk to ask a quick question. Asynchronous communication is an exchange of information without the expectation of an immediate response; it’s an email or a note left on a desk. Encouraging and facilitating both synchronous and asynchronous communication creates a communication flow and enhances workplace culture.

Why it matters

Communicating remotely, at minimum, keeps an organization functional. At best, it creates a positive workplace culture, boosts employee retention, and drives performance. Facilitating a virtual environment where employees feel a sense of community makes a more collaborative and understanding team that workers are proud to identify with. While employees may not necessarily be “coming into work every day,” you can still create a community where they are happy to log on every morning.

Looking to improve company momentum, team cohesion, and employee engagement? GROWL Spark can help your remote team stay connected and drive results. Contact the GROWL Team today for more information.

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