Digital communication has gone more complex since the dawn of remote work. Compared to face-to-face communication, there are certain challenges and nuances when communicating in a remote team setting. These include cybersecurity strategies such as penetration testing to protect company data from hackers and cyber attacks.
Miscommunication is also a prominent concern in remote team communication. While several tools and platforms facilitate virtual communication, managers and team members have difficulty getting their message across. This article will explore how remote teams can interact successfully in a virtual environment and ways to prevent miscommunication.
Set communication guidelines
Policies and guidelines are vital to keeping everyone on the same page. Imagine sending a project update via email or a company-wide announcement through an instant messaging platform. In these scenarios, the message ends up getting lost since the messaging channel is obviously inappropriate for the type of content.
Since the pandemic, tech companies have introduced a variety of communication channels to help companies transition to remote working. Although most of the platforms have been existing for a while, many discovered them when they started working remotely. Some of the popular platforms include Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Gather.
The number of communication channels on the internet can easily confuse your remote workers. What you should do is to determine which platform effectively supports your remote operations and will help your team be productive and efficient. Once you have picked the right platform(s), establish a communication guideline for each channel. The guideline should define the type of communication channel the company will use, the purpose of each channel, rules of participation, and expectations.
Keep messages simple
The secret to effective communication is keeping your messages simple and direct. While this sounds easy, it’s something people struggle with when communicating with a remote workforce.
Direct communication means going straight to the point to avoid misunderstandings and get your message across clearly. So when you’re giving instructions to your team, you have to tailor the message and use actionable information. For example, if you’re discussing a complex strategy with the team, stick to the high-level milestones and main objective. You can explain the specific details if you’re communicating with a smaller group.
As a leader, you have to emphasize the importance of giving clear and specific messages to your team. Once you set the mood for communication, it’s easy for everyone to follow.
Experiment with visual communication
People have a very short attention span. This means you have to make your message clear in a manner that’s easy to comprehend and absorb. Would you read a long paragraph that explains the new company policy or read a short infographic containing the same content? You’ll probably pick the latter.
Humans are highly visual creatures. They can easily absorb and relate to visual cues instead of textual. Meanwhile, visual communication has the power to educate, engage, and motivate people. Research also shows that using visual cues in communication improves retention.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate visual communication in a remote workplace. Here are examples:
- Use infographics and icons to supplement technical information
- Use mind maps or diagrams to demonstrate process changes.
- Create presentations or slideshow to summarize action points
- Make checklists to monitor tasks.
In other words, visuals improve remote communication without confusing and overwhelming people with large blocks of information. They provide consistency to ensure everyone understands the message clearly and allow you to explain specific details and high-level concepts better.
Encourage an “open door” policy
Accessibility is vital to prevent miscommunication. This is necessary for remote teams since they’re separated by distance, resulting in a lack of access. Distance and lack of regular connection can also make employees timid, which causes miscommunication because of the fear of communication.
If employees can’t contact their coworkers and are unsure about the right timing to send a message, they are more likely to make the wrong mistakes since they make decisions without proper consultation.
Time zones complicate accessibility, so it’s important to promote an environment that encourages unrestricted and frequent communication. This should start from the manager by leaving their inbox open to encourage employees to talk to them. This applies to organizations with teams distributed across the globe and having flexible work schedules. Don’t pressure employees to respond to messages outside work hours when implementing the policy. Instead, tell them it’s okay to respond during their most convenient time.
People tend to rush things when communicating remotely. But this approach can only lead to miscommunications and team conflicts. By making proactive efforts to improve remote communications, managers and employees are better prepared to avoid potential pitfalls and lead their teams to more productive project deliveries.