The coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of professionals in North Carolina with no choice but to work from home to prevent the spread of the disease. And for those who are used to interacting with their colleagues in person, the abrupt change has been overwhelming. Communication is crucial to make the transition to remote work easier.
Among the biggest challenges in managing your remote team are ensuring effective collaboration, aligning employee and company goals, maintaining camaraderie, and preventing feelings of isolation. To successfully address these, you need more than exchange of information — you need improved quality of communication.
How do you improve the overall quality of communication in a remote team?
Communication is necessary to engage your remote team while they're in isolation. This should evoke feelings of connection and purpose, making remote team members feel that they are integral and essential to something greater than themselves.
You can expect an engaged remote worker to be more creative and productive, while disengaged individuals often feel unmotivated to work. Here’s a list of ways you, as a manager, can maintain engaging communication in your team.
#1 Build team rapport
In an office, there’s always a time and place for communication regarding projects and tasks. Informal social interactions are just as crucial since they strengthen team bonds. This can be challenging to maintain in a remote work setup, but still necessary.
As a manager, you have to intentionally pursue it by finding digital opportunities for your team to connect casually and maintain rapport.
Take your cue from the informal interactions you might see in an actual office setting. You could set aside some time within the day for a virtual lunch or even a happy hour for the entire team. Schedule coffee dates or brainstorm team building experiences such as playing games together online.
#2 Be proactive about checking in
Carve out time in your schedule to communicate with individual team members. These conversations shouldn’t have a pre-planned agenda and don't have to be about work. Rather, check in on your members’ well-being.
A one-to-one conversation is also an opportunity for you to lead with transparency. It’s an intimate way for you to keep individual members in the loop while encouraging honest feedback from them.
#3 Huddle up regularly
Regular team huddles will help to establish consistency and certainty in these uncertain times. Not only will these meetings minimize isolation during this crisis, but they will also keep your members focused. Start every day by syncing up priorities and addressing urgent needs.
As with one-to-one chats, these huddles don’t have to be all about business. Before gaining steam on the official work agenda, check in on how your members are doing. These small gestures will go a long way in fostering engagement and making members feel valued.
Hold monthly virtual all-hands meetings that align teams with the company’s vision and long-term goals. Discuss not only the key challenges that the company is working to overcome, but also how each department or team plays a crucial role in moving the company forward.
For aligning with the company’s direction, repetition is crucial. Schedule weekly video conference calls to create top-of-mind awareness of what was said in the monthly huddle. Reiterate the role your team plays in solving challenges and attaining goals, so they focus on these priorities as they go about their tasks.
#4 Recognize a job well done
In any team, recognizing accomplished work and milestones helps to boost morale and motivate performance. For remote teams, it is even more important that you go out of your way to express public recognition. These gestures contribute to the overall strategy of making your remote team feel appreciated and curbing feelings of disconnection and isolation.
#5 Prioritize video calls
Utilizing video conferencing tools is invaluable for both formal and informal remote communication, recreating the close proximity working environment of an actual office space. So prioritize video calls, whether in one-to-one check-ins or team meetings.