Managing remote teams is different for every organization, depending on their culture. Remote team management is all about setting up every person for success. It’s more about nurturing leaders and less about developing strict policies.
Thanks to tech advancement, remote teams have grown in popularity. And they are standard in most organizations across the world. The remote work landscape is always changing. This means that organizations must use appropriate communication strategies to achieve their goals.
A study conducted by Global Workplace Analytics found that remote work has grown by 173% from 2005 to 2018. When COVID-19 hit, more than 85% of organizations worldwide made it mandatory for employees to work remotely. These numbers show that remote work is rapidly becoming common in most organizations. Therefore, managers need to communicate with their remote teams effectively.
Is communicating with a remote team different from a physical one?
Most people argue that communicating with a remote team is similar to communicating with a physical team. They suggest meetings as the best communication method for close-knit team members. To attend an online meeting, you have to ensure that your Mac is working optimally. If it’s lagging, you should clear it up as early as possible to avoid unnecessary delays or missing important meetings.
While meetings have pros, a Harvard Business Review survey revealed that 71% of managers found meetings to be inefficient and unproductive. If meetings don’t help boost your team's productivity, it might not be the solution you are looking for. Before we start discussing the strategies you can use to improve remote team communication, here are some common mistakes that most organizations make.
Common remote team communication mistakes
1. Poor planning
There will be times when having an impromptu meeting will be necessary. However, this should not be the norm. Proper planning will enable team members to prepare adequately and make virtual sessions more effective. They’ll have ample time to gather important documents and eliminate interruptions during the meeting. You’ve probably seen a video where an employee is having an online meeting and their children are playing with a dog in the room. While it can be difficult to avoid such challenges, proper planning will go a long way in minimizing them. Your team members will also have an easy time concentrating.
2. Failing to respect cultures or religions
Culture and religion usually vary, especially in remote teams. As the manager, you must ensure everyone is on the same track by educating them on each member’s religion and culture. Failing to respect your team members’ religion and culture can get quite personal. And this can harm your team's productivity or lead to high turnover.
Micromanagement is a style of management where the manager keeps track of what everyone is doing and controls their employees. It ensures that every task is performed in the management’s way. According to a survey conducted by Trinity Solutions, 79% of employees reported having experienced micromanagement. It has been linked to loss of trust, manager fatigue, dependent employees, lack of innovation, and high turnover.
You don’t have to micromanage your team members to help them achieve the set targets. Micromanagement does not work in physical offices. Therefore, don’t expect it to yield positive results in a remote environment. You can avoid micromanaging by establishing effective communication methods for your remote team. Lastly, in the remote patient monitoring market, avoiding micromanagement is essential to foster seamless communication and ensure healthcare providers can efficiently monitor patients' health data from a distance, leading to improved patient outcomes.
4. Long emails and calls
Apart from using the right tools, you need to think of the message you want to convey and how to pass the message. In general, shorter emails and messages are better than long ones. The same applies to phone calls and meetings. The longer the email or call, the greater the risk of miscommunicating.
5 Proven Strategies for strong virtual connections in a remote team
Remote teams with strong virtual connections will likely foster understanding, openness, empathy and alignment. In this section, We are going to cover five proven strategies that you can use to enhance virtual communication:
1. Have a centralized team communication and project management platform
One of the biggest challenges that most remote teams face is having a lot of communication platforms. They include chat, email, and file-sharing apps, to name a few. When teams use different communication tools, it can be difficult to keep track of everything, especially when working on a huge project.
A centralized system brings all modes of communication to a single place, thus simplifying teamwork. It will be easy for teams to use proper modes of communication based on the type of information to be shared and their preferences. Having all the data in one place makes work and life easy.
2. Prioririze social bonding
By eliminating social barriers, teams can easily communicate and exchange key ideas without fearing criticism or judgment. While achieving excellent communication in a remote team is difficult, managers can improve it by investing time and energy in this area. Team building activities can go a long way in helping teams know each other and stay connected. Common examples of team-building activities that can be implemented in remote teams include organizing virtual workout sessions, hosting meditation sessions, playing online games together, and taking personality tests.
Social bonding is essential in developing professional relationships and creating an environment that promotes creativity. Team building can also help encourage the active participation of every team member in various projects. It cultivates a sense of belonging, a primary motivator of high productivity and performance.
3. Recognize and reward members
One of the easiest ways to motivate team members to perform is by genuinely appreciating them. This works not only in the office but also in remote teams. Recognizing and rewarding team members on time will prove to everyone that you identify hard work and talent. You don’t always have to reward your members with money. You can send ‘thankyou’ notes, give acknowledgements during team meetings and provide opportunities for them to develop and improve important skills.
4. Set clear expectations
Most managers in an organization micromanage their employees because they fear they will not achieve the set goals, thus destroying the organization’s reputation. To be in control of your remote team, you need to break down projects, assign each segment to a team member based on their strengths and set clear deadlines. When you do this, you won’t have to waste your precious time thinking of what your employees are doing.
5. Check-in regularly
It’s always important to check in with all your team members regularly to ensure they are okay. Don’t assume they are fine because they haven’t reported anything. Converse with them about issues that are not related to work. Communicating with them regularly through video helps eliminate employee–employer communication barriers and creates a safe space where everyone can air their views. Dialogue with them will promote communication, productivity, engagement, and trust, ultimately improving employee performance. Further, it helps managers understand what is happening in their teams and have more control.
Since remote working is gradually becoming one of the most favorable models, organizations should implement proven communication strategies to enhance team communication and productivity. It requires planning and consistent effort to develop the ideal strategy for remote team communication. The efficacy of a remote team greatly depends on members' ability to communicate effectively and be motivated to achieve the set goals through collaboration.
About the author:
Angela Wellness is an experienced writer and editor in the digital space. She spends her workweek reading online articles, conducting research and sharing findings with professionals and college students. She is passionate about visiting new destinations across the world and making friends.
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