How to Establish Remote Communication Culture

Communication culture becomes one of the biggest priorities organisations should focus on with the more permanent cementation of remote work in businesses. During the pandemic, remote work has posed various challenges and benefits to workers and businesses. Not all people fit in with mixing work and home life in a single space.

The biggest challenge for workers in remote work setups was the inability to plug off work. Extending beyond work reporting hours became the norm for many remote workers. Communication issues come in further in the list of remote work issues compared to the inability to get off work.

A survey concludes, employees had less difficulties with collaboration and communication in 2021 due to the quick cultivation of skills during the 2020 pandemic that allow them to effectively communicate and collaborate with others when working from different locations.

Companies and organisations have set up their respective arrangements and invested in the right tools to create the most suitable remote communication culture. Though these communication arrangements are imperfect, establishing and developing proper communication culture helps make businesses more integrated and collaborative despite the distance.

Remote work communication challenges

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Virtual communication has changed the way businesses operate. Remote work communication culture is very different from casual communication with friends, family and others.

Here are some potential issues with remote work communication culture:

  • MISCOMMUNICATIONThere comes a disconnect between what people type and send and what they truly mean. Sometimes, intentions do not match in remote communication. Anything can become a source of misinterpretation, misunderstanding and eventual miscommunication between parties.
  • Body LanguageThere are no signals for body language and overall physical disposition, limiting vocal communication culture to words written in chats or relayed in video conferences. Teams are limited to what is verbally relayed online or vocally stated in video calls.
  • Communication channelsRemote work communication tools and communication styles become more permanent. Other team members can easily refer to another member’s messages in communication channels. When things you type and send can be used against you, it becomes a source of hesitation.
  • Technical issuesTechnical issues such as proper hardware and devices and internet connection issues become roadblocks to effective communication.
  • Different Time ZonesTime zones become a hindrance to real-time response and result in bigger problems in collaboration. Organisations must find a way to match meetings, calls and conferences to the best time slots.

Though there are other issues in remote worker communication culture, it becomes an opportunity for organisations to adapt and develop their businesses. There are proven ways and tips to improve remote communication culture continuously.

How to Create an Effective Communication Culture in Remote Teams

There are a variety of techniques to create effective communication among your remote team members. Let’s begin.

1) Establish rules and guidelines for communications

One of the biggest aspects of work communication style is all the unspoken rules of workplace communication. These rules and guidelines become more diluted when people are working remotely. You would not exactly know and pick up what to do and not to do when communicating with colleagues.

Establish some ground rules and guidelines for communications. These rules become the basis and guide for remote employees to communicate effectively. Set up rules and guidelines as explicitly as possible to teach remote workers how to communicate concisely. All remote teams should know what to expect.

Here are some examples of how to establish rules for remote communication:

  • Set up proper communication channels using digital tools like Slack, Skype and Microsoft Teams. It is best to create multiple channels, which include organisation channels, department channels, project group chats, team rooms, etc.
  • Set notifications for regular meetings like weekly Tuesday meetings for discussions, monthly progress updates, short update calls etc. The crucial thing is to establish some regularity so remote workers can expect and ingrain these virtual meetings.
  • Send regular messages that provide instruction and direction to teams, such as progress emails or daily quota targets.
  • Always factor in cultural differences like holidays and national day offs from different places. Note the different time zones of diverse teams.
  • Leave other means of communication for remote employees who cannot express what they want to say during the meeting. A simple guideline such as “Email me for questions and concerns” or “Just send a message in my chatbox for work matters” signals openness and approachability to remote workers who are slightly less equipped to relay thoughts in real-time.

2) Keep office culture even when working online

Office traditions are always one of the determining factors for solid organisation culture. Doing something that only your company does sets it apart from other businesses. Simple things and gestures such as Friday Fun Days or Employee Team Building events help boost company culture. Celebrate the foundation of the business as a company-wide event.

Remote work is not an excuse for 24/7 availability. Organisations should still observe local holidays, industry-wide events and even birthdays as significant occasions. Separating work from home is already a challenge with the lack of physical markers to note office productivity. These little traditions and practices in office culture simulate the existence of daily office life, helping keep boundaries between work and home life.

3) Use the right communication tools

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There are multiple communication tools to help any team member achieve asynchronous communication. Remote communication is not only limited to sending messages in Slack channels or blasting emails for company-wide announcements. Simple gestures such as uploading documents, responding to department forums, and turning in reports and surveys on a later date require different tools.

Examples of real-time video communication tools:

  • Zoom to accommodate large conference calls
  • Microsoft Team meetings for specific meeting sessions

Examples of messaging apps for work:

  • WhatsApp for encrypted and instant messaging
  • Chanty for messaging purposes infused with creating and assigning tasks

Examples of functional communication tools:

  • Slack for multiple communication channels, uploading files and third-party integrations
  • Rin Central for cloud-based communication functions

4) Over-Communicate Whenever You Can

Unlike a physical workplace, a remote workplace gives workers less chance to talk. That is why over-communicating is surprisingly one of the keys to effective communication. It is always better to cover all critical aspects and emphasise essential matters that need focus and urgency. To truly set instruction and direction, some things must be repeated twice or thrice.

While overcommunication may look demanding, this makes up for the lack of in-person communication. Becoming more direct, concise and straightforward provides clear guidelines and expectations for both parties. Using other means to convert reactions, such as asking for message reactions or requesting emojis upon seeing messages, fosters a way for more relaxed yet comprehensive communication styles.

5) Create a space for a virtual water cooler

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Work communication does not mean you must talk about work all the time. Set up a virtual space that is safe for non-work-related small talk. The small moments of catch-up, talking, and interaction help solidify the dynamics and disposition between team members and even unify people across cross-cultural communication practices.

Simple messages such as, “What is your favourite food?” or “Send a photo of your favourite holiday!” can become a breather from all work-related things. These virtual water cooler sessions help set the mood and the morale between teams, improving openness between all team members.

6) Build regular meetings

Set recurring team meetings that establish a pace for projects. This can help members update on the project they are working on. It encourages members to share their difficulties while doing the project and brainstorm on how to be more efficient as a team.

For regular meetings, a video call becomes more appropriate to reach people on a more personal level than instant messaging may lack. Regular meetings also build a structure that helps remote employees shape their work week or month. For remote employees planning to do advanced work before attending to errands, having these regular schedule blocks ensures they can still attend the virtual meetings while planning crucial things on their list.

7) Encourage constructive feedback

Any remote team can benefit from constructive criticism to foster strong team dynamics and positive workplace culture. There is always room for improvement and development as more businesses slowly build their respective remote work communication culture. One of the biggest aspects of effective communication is the ability to incite constructive feedback.

Remote workers should not be afraid or hesitant to voice any concerns and feedback. Organisation leaders, managers and higher-level figures should be open to encouraging people to have crucial conversations. All people, whether remote workers or management teams, should have the mindset that all feedback is for the improvement and progress of the business.

Tips to promote good remote communication to your workforce

Building effective remote work communication does not end with setting guidelines, using the right tools or inciting feedback. There are things to take note of after building your communication culture. Consider these tips to help smoothen and improve the ease of communication between the company and remote teams.

Be empathetic

Empathy means understanding and sharing the feelings of other people. The effects of remote work include getting cut off and, in worse cases, eventual burnout from the lack of human and physical interaction. Staring at screens all day for most of your week can take a toll on your mind and personal life.

Anything happens at home. According to Sava’s report, “…According to the survey, 47 percent of respondents indicate managing at-home distractions as the biggest challenges of working remotely.” Extending understanding matched with the right communication styles helps the overall management of stress that can come from working at home. A little understanding goes a long way.

Do team-building activities

Team building activities are crucial to keep a strong communication culture. Team building builds camaraderie and morale between remote teams and members. People across different cultures already posit differences in communication and work styles. These differences can already create a rift in how and when people across remote teams communicate.

Team building helps foster safety and belongingness. As employees feel like they are part of a bigger team they can interact with, communication becomes more seamless over time.

Always check on your work team

Checking up on your team does not need to mean micromanaging things at work. A simple “How are you?” or “Is there anything I can help you with?” conveys care and approachability. Keeping tabs on all team members track down the team’s current standing as a whole.

Regular check-ups simulate the typical greetings and “How are you?” conversations between workers. Check-ups also serve as an opportunity to voice concerns and issues among teams. It is one way to check the pace and the common concerns among remote team members.

Set a clear agenda and ask for input prior to the meeting

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Long meetings can become a waste of time. It is best for people who set the meeting to have a specific agenda for the meeting. Whether it is a cooler room meeting or an update on progress reports, meetings must present a particular function and agenda.

Asking for input before any meeting also eliminates the replication of discussion points. The more input you get before the meeting, the less time you need to unpack crucial matters during the actual meeting.

Always choose video meetings rather than just audio

Communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom allow audio calls and video calls. These apps also have chatting and instant messaging features for all people online. Select video calls as a way to conduct meetings rather than audio calls.

Video calls allow people to see each other, building stronger affinity between members. The more people see each other, even if it is just on screen, creates bonds that would otherwise seem robotic and undetached in audio calls. Video calls build familiarity between remote workers.

Ask open-ended questions

Online meetings and nonstop screen time for prolonged hours can create fatigue at work. Asking questions help build interaction and check-ups. The last thing that any person wants during meetings is for other members and participants not to pick up anything. Asking open-ended questions sets the way for interactions, openness and idea-building.

Collaborations often come from open-ended questions that lead to discussions. As more remote workers build on other team members’ input, it fosters communication between people.

Conclusion

Effective communication is less about frequency and more about clarity. According to a Forbes Article, “Clear communication is essential when managing a remote team. But constant communication? Less so. An always-on mentality isn’t sustainable, and it certainly doesn’t produce anyone’s best work.” The more established the communication styles and patterns are between remote organisations, the less there is for constant assertion, leading to less impactful communication.

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Join our team

Join our team today and be part of a company that values your skills, invest in your professional and personal growth,, and empowers you to make a difference.

Together, we can drive innovations and deliver remarkable results for our clients.

Work with us

Finding the right skills for your business should not be a hassle. With our expertise, extensive network, and personalized approach, we can help you find the perfect match that will fuel your business success.