Remote teams are becoming commonplace as the workplace continues to evolve and new technologies make communication across time zones simpler and more effective.
With cloud storage an increasingly convenient means of accessing information, it’s become possible to share the same information easily with people all over the world through various software applications. As easy as it is to use these tools, though, how easy is it to communicate with the people you’re sharing them with?
Here are four tips to consider when communicating as a remote team:
1. Find a Collaborative Platform that Works
There are a variety of collaborative software programmes available, from Slack to Teamwork, which all offer similar functionality. Essentially, a collaborative programme allows you to track the progress of tasks transparently, and to be able to keep track of all communication that happens within the team. While various applications will offer the same ability to send messages, assign tasks and create documents, some applications suit different kinds of teams better than others. For example, a team with structured, routine tasks might benefit from a more structured platform, while a team that is focused on creative tasks would benefit from a software programme that allows them more flexibility.
2. Weekly or Regular Check-Ins
While it can be very convenient to be able to track the progress of tasks and follow threads of communication on collaborative software programmes, it’s important to make sure that team members still communicate their progress with regular check-ins. One of the ways to make sure that everyone is on top of their assigned tasks is to get all employees to post a weekly update on what they have done during the week. This includes any problems they are having and any items that need to be followed up on. Some teams may choose to do this at the end of the week on a Friday to wrap up their week, or some might choose to do this on a Monday to structure and plan their weekly schedule. Either way, establishing a routine of consistent communication will go a long way to ensuring that you don’t lose track of anything important while trying to communicate across time zones.
3. Regular Meet-Ups to Combat Time Zone Difference
In addition to weekly check-ins, it’s important that employees still interact face-to-face when possible. Although regular meet-ups in person will contribute to a stronger team dynamic, often it’s not possible to get everyone in the same place. While an annual meetup might be the only feasible option for many remote teams, VoIP applications can be an effective substitute, and can allow for quicker and easier communication between colleagues. Regular conference calls and other “hang out” applications can also establish a community atmosphere that might be lacking with people working in different parts of the world, and can also create a bit of fun when it comes to getting to know each other and marking important business milestones.
4. Be Clear When it Comes to Assigning Tasks
The constant challenge of communication, even within a team based in the same location, is being clear about expectations when it comes to tasks. This can be difficult enough in a team that shares the same office space, but over geographical distance, it’s even easier for miscommunications to take place via text-based communication while everyone is scrambling to get as much done during their day as possible, with no real insight into the work schedules of other team members. By being clear on exactly what needs to be done, and with realistic timeframes and deadlines put in place every time, communicating remotely can be simplified for everyone involved.