As the mandate for working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic continues – the US has now extended its recommended social distancing guidelines – it’s easy for employees to work only in silos. To ensure the productivity of your team or department (and even your entire organization) doesn’t decrease, it’s important for remote teams to change the ways with which they’re communicating with one another.
Below are three easy ways to adapt your communication styles to ensure your now-remote teams are working as closely and efficiently as you were in the office.
1. Establish defined communication channels
Offices as we know them really only emerged in the early 20th century as spaces for centralizing productivity through – among other things – easy communication. Before that, they were essentially just paperwork factories filled with clerks. We are now entering a post-office era. But how this era will operate can be puzzling to some. Indeed, when you aren’t sitting next to your colleagues and don’t have access to meeting rooms, it can be hard to see how effective communication can take place.
It’s pretty easy: Companies now need to centralize everything in the way offices did in the early 20th century, but do it virtually. How? Use one tool for everyone. This is possible with platforms like Wrike, which are essentially online HQs that integrate with 400+ applications, including communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack.
“As West Music continues to adapt in response to COVID-19, the marketing team has been working on an adjusted schedule remotely with limited hours,” explains West Music Company Marketing Specialist Jessica Danca. “We use Microsoft Teams integrated with Wrike, to communicate and conduct meetings throughout the day.”
This is important because if you’re using several different platforms for several different teams, remote team communication can easily break down. Simply put: Things are going to get confusing pretty fast (think of it as the equivalent of splitting your teams up into separate offices that never talk). When you’ve implemented this, make sure to schedule regular check-ins, all-hands, brainstorm sessions, and meetings, just as you would in a regular office.
2. Schedule regular “catch-ups”
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has suggested that the next several years will be marked by what he calls the “communitization” of companies all over the world. As remote work becomes an ever more accepted norm, employees are asking themselves, "What does remote work mean?" This then leads to them not only seeking tools that facilitate productivity and collaboration but “software that enables them to feel seen, heard, and truly connected to their colleagues.”
In short, remote team communication tools will need to make employees feel like they are part of a real team and not just a virtual version of a team. It’s easy to see why: At home, things like impromptu lunches go out the window and watercooler brainstorms don’t tend to happen. This can lead to thoughts of disconnect and can make employees feel like they aren’t part of a team. But this is changing. As remote work becomes increasingly common, last-minute video hangout lunches are now the norm and apps like Slack have become GIF-filled spaces in which formal and informal work talk takes place. It’s important to treat these new remote team communication methods such as virtual ice team building icebreakers in the same way as their real-life equivalents: They’ll boost your feelings of connection and reduce any nagging FOMO.
3. Be respectful of time zone differences
There's a certain psychological “flattening” that happens with remote work. When a geographically and time-zone dispersed team all uses one tool, it can be easy to forget that 2:00 pm for one colleague might be 9:00 pm for another. This means a team member in New York might be psyched for a 1-on-1 whereas a Moscow-based colleague might roll their eyes as a meeting invitation rolls in for the middle of the night.
It’s important to know that even though remote platforms mean people are technically reachable at all hours of the day, that doesn’t mean they'll be able to respond. Teams need to be respectful that the working day has a beginning and an end. Slack helpfully reminds DMers when a message is being sent out of normal working hours and Google uses a crescent moon symbol to remind meeting organizers that a potential roundtable is scheduled outside of office hours. As remote work becomes more common, it’s ever-more important to respect colleagues’ time and adapt to more friendly remote team communication methods.
How Wrike can help
Enabling remote team communication no matter where employees are located can help ease the transition into long-term remote work. Wrike’s features empower businesses to connect with team members and clients and manage deadlines effectively from absolutely anywhere in the world.
That’s why we offer a free trial of Wrike to help support the switch to the new future of work. Start today!