Between 2005 and 2015, remote work grew to nearly 80% according to Global Workplace Analytics. Still, there are executives that swear their workforce can only be effective when the whole team is in one office..
Concerns regarding the effectiveness of remote work are usually tied to possible communication issues. The success of daily business processes rely on effective communication, after all. “It helps build trust and creates an environment where creative ideas and problem-solving are welcomed and encouraged,” says Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner. Of course, this doesn’t always equate to physical presence.
When you prioritize communications and constantly adapt ways of improvement, it may yield similar, if not better results. This holds true regardless of whether you’re all working under one roof or dispersed all over the world.
Here are three secrets that could dramatically improve communication between you and your remote staff:
#1) The less tools you use, the better
It’s a common misconception that the more tools you use for communication, the more accessible you are. In fact, this can be distracting and overwhelming for your staff. Imagine checking your email, social media accounts, and various IM programs multiple times a day just to keep the line of communication open. This alone can take precious time away from the work at hand.
Find a tool that can act as a primary site for your team members to check for updates and information, as well as communicate with you and each other. Wrike and Podio have project management and collaboration features that make them great tools for remote staff management. Narrowing down tools for communication will also reduce the occurrence of redundant messages.
If it’s necessary to use several tools, make sure each has a clearly defined purpose. You can assign different tools depending on the urgency of a message. Make sure you implement the roles of each tool to avoid overlooked tasks and messages.
#2) You can work with different time zones
Remote staffing makes it possible for you to work with top hires around the world. Some remote staffing companies have people who can work with you during your work hours or even round the clock, regardless of location or time zone. If that’s not an option, find an overlap where your team members are all available to communicate in real-time. Use this time to set up team meetings and collaborative work.
A powerful time management tool like WhenIWork will help you see who is currently working as well as schedule everyone to be available at the same time. Scheduling the bulk of communications to a specific timeslot can also help your staff accomplish their tasks without workflow interruptions.
A few hours may not seem much, but this limited window will encourage you and your team to deliver clear and concise messages. “When you’re not in the same place with your teammates, you don’t have set work hours, and you have no one to report to, one thing that becomes really important seems to be frequent, clear communication.” shares Courtney Seiter, head of Content Marketing for Buffer.
To make sure processes are aligned and deliverables are sent when you need them, choose a time zone all your offshore employees must adhere to. If you can’t pick a time zone, stick to UTC. (Coordinated Universal Time)
#3) Great team culture leads to great communication
Culture is important, even if your employees have miles between them. A sense of unification can go a long way in boosting your remote employee’s morale.
According to Janet Choi, Chief Creative Officer of iDoneThis, “The biggest challenge of working in remote teams isn’t dealing with the physical distribution of your teammates but reducing the psychological distance between everyone.” When your employees feel connected, the familiarity will help them communicate better. Utilize video conference calls often and encourage them to talk to each other. Flowdock and HipChat, for example, act as virtual office spaces where your staff can converse amongst themselves.
Time when everyone is online may be precious, but take a few minutes during weekly meetings to celebrate wins. “One of the most satisfying aspects of work is knowing you’re an integral part of the business, knowing you’re cherished, respected and loved.” says Ryan Gibson of GenerationY.com. “Having that communication with the business as a home worker allows you to feel part of the team and ultimately a key part of the future of the business.”
Hire great communicators, but more importantly, be a great communicator yourself. Set an example. Make sure you are clear and purposeful with your words, too. By incorporating these methods, you’ll be able to streamline communications with your remote team and enjoy boosts in morale, productivity, and even your bottom line.
How do you improve communications with your offshore remote staff? Share in the comments or contact us at Info@BoltonRemote.com!
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