How to Communicate with Remote Employees [And the Best Tools to Use]
Millions of people shifted to a Work From Anywhere™ model as a result of the pandemic. Now, it’s become the norm. But leaders still struggle with how to communicate with remote employees. Below, we’ll give you some ideas to improve communication with remote employees and recommend the best communication tools for remote and hybrid teams.
Understanding how to avoid poor communication with remote employees is going to be one of the most important habits you can form as a leader, as a member of the team and as a company. If you’re working remotely or in a hybrid environment, a lack of nonverbal communication and physical cues can pose additional challenges. But even if you’re all working under the same roof, communication is harder to master than most people realize.
Poor or ineffective communication results in unmet expectations, a sense of isolation and precious time wasted on clarifications. Nobody is going to understand what you want and need from them if you don’t clearly tell them.
Perfecting that subtle art of how to maintain communication with employees remotely is going to:
- Strengthen and maintain personal and professional relationships
- Enforce the overall sense of community and togetherness, even when you’re apart
- Prevent the mutual frustration of poorly communication needs and the resulting unmet expectations
- Allow everyone to feel heard, understood and connected
You’ll know you’re communicating effectively with remote employees when you are consistently able to clearly and concisely express:
- What you want and need: When is this due? Where does it fall on the list of priorities? Who is responsible for what? What milestones need to be met, and by when?
- Feedback and constructive criticism
- Appreciation for hard work and a job well done
What’s the Best Way to Communicate with Remote Employees? [4 Tactics]
The best way to communicate with a remote employee is in the manner that best suits that individual person. Ultimately, the best tactic for how to communicate with your remote employees is going to be highly individualized. That’s part of what makes communication so much harder than it seems.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when learning how to communicate effectively with remote employees. As you’ve likely noticed, not everyone communicates in the same way. Instead, you’re going to have to utilize several different types of communication so that every employee can give and receive better communication.
Here are four ways of communicating with remote employees that you need to be utilizing:
Engage in one-on-one conversations through private messages.
This is ideal for employees who tend to communicate best in quieter settings. After group discussions, send them a private message or email encouraging them to offer their insights and suggestions.
Rather than forcing everyone to speak up in a conference call, this allows your more reserved team members the option to offer their opinions in a setting that works for them. One-on-one communication is also a great way to get to know each other on a personal level.
Provide visual data.
This is especially important for your detail-oriented employees who thrive on clear deadlines and expectations. Whenever relevant, have data readily accessible to team members to improve communication with remote employees.
Store your monthly reports, growth metrics and tracked data in a folder in the cloud, attach it in messages or emails — wherever your people can easily find it whenever they need to reference that information.
Document and save all forms of communication.
Record your important Zoom meeting and store the recording in your company’s cloud. Archive helpful emails and messages. Write down the assignment details and put them in the group folder.
Having your communication documented will prevent the, “But you didn’t tell me this,” and the, “When did we decide this?” It’ll also be helpful when you or an employee needs to reference something specific.
Maintain face-to-face communication.
Whether you’re sitting next to each other or hundreds of miles apart, don’t neglect to schedule regular face-to-face communication. For your team, face-to-face interaction may be a quarterly in-person meet-up, a weekly check-in via Zoom, or a combination of both.
Especially if you’re fully remote, we also recommend setting aside some time for face-to-face communication that isn’t work-related, so you can maintain the kind of in-person chitchat that fosters genuine relationships. Even just catching up for a few minutes before you get to business can make an impact.
What are the Best Tools for Communication with Remote Employees?
You need intuitive online tools to help you navigate how to maintain communication with employees remotely. These tools will allow you to utilize those four communication methods within and across teams.
Here are our three favorite tools for communication with remote employees:
Business Operating Systems (BOS)
- Help you run tighter meetings (both in-person and virtual)
- Document processes so that anyone can understand how it’s done
- Delegate assignments back and forth
- Set goals, deadlines and milestones
- Communicate roles and responsibilities
- Track progress and data
- And more
Add all of your employees into the system, and then everyone can easily speak the same “language” and stay on the same page. This holistic system is the best way to permanently eliminate poor communication and teach you how to communicate with remote employees more effectively.
Check out Ninety’s platform to learn more.
Secure message platforms
If you’re still handling all of your in-company communications via email, consider this your intervention. Messaging apps allow faster, better organized and less formal communication.
We recommend using a messaging platform on top of your company operating system to keep track of group and individual messages. If you haven’t already, consider incorporating Slack, Microsoft Teams or Flock.
Video conference tools
If your company isn’t regularly scheduling face-to-face meetings or check-ins via Zoom, Skype, or Google Duo, you need to start now. Even with your business operating system and messaging app, you need to routinely utilize video conferencing.
So much of how we communicate is nonverbal. Sometimes it’s easiest to just talk directly to each other. Video conferencing tools make that easy, regardless of location.
Get More Tips on How to Communicate with Remote Employees
Better communication with your remote employees will strengthen relationships, prevent the kind of miscommunication that leads to job dissatisfaction and save a lot of time and stress. It can seem hard to adapt to remote communication styles, but with the right tools and support, it can be made easy.
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