With remote working becoming a more common option in the workforce, plenty of people are seeking out companies that are offering these options. If anything, the idea of working from home has become one of the many requirements for people to work for a company. According to recent research, 71% of remote workers have claimed to be incredibly happy in their current job thanks to remote working.
However, merely offering your existing and future employees the chance to work from home is not enough to ensure they remain satisfied and loyal to your company. The best way to make your remote team remain content and productive is to manage it effectively.
But how can you and your leadership team possibly do that? One of the most significant parts of remote working is having solid communication. However, plenty of managers, especially those who are inexperienced with handling remote teams, tend to make some common mistakes in their communication. If communication is going terrible between everyone on the team, the resulting consequences can be catastrophic.
To understand and improve your communication skills in a remote working environment, we need to go over some of the common communication mistakes you need to avoid.
Forgetting to define goals and expectations
Tools like project management solutions are excellent for any company, especially those offering a remote working option. These tools grant you the chance to rack due dates and allow the tomato to see everyone's current progress is on the project. However, timelines and priorities are two different things, and most people tend two confuse them both.
For instance, let say one of your remote team members has finished one part of their tasks. However, they cannot advance with their other goals because another team member has not prioritized a specific task that is crucial for them to progress. While they are both making progress well enough on their own projects, if expectations and goals are not set, projects can rapidly crawl to a halt, and critical deadlines are missed.
A situation like this could lead to unnecessary tension among the team members even though a mere glance at the project management tool shows everyone is doing what they believe needs to be done. As the leader of the bunch, you need to define goals and expectations, what needs to be done for other members of the team to move forward. Also, make sure everyone is clear on each of their projects as well as the work of each of their team members.
Attempting to multitask
Remote working can be great for a variety of reasons, but one thing most people don’t realize how distracting it can be if they have to deal with outside influences. Think about it, remote workers may have family members popping into their home space to speak to them, or their pets may even try to catch their attention. Phone calls and even noises outside the household could also add to many lists of distractions.
Distractions can cause productivity levels to decrease and cause mistakes to occur throughout the workloads. When it comes to setting up a remote working lifestyle, you need to consider the idea of having a dedicated area where you will not be disturbed and allowed to remain focused on the task at hand, at least for a few hours.
As a remote team leader, you need to ensure you are promoting these values with this type of mindset. Take the time to educate yourself on the best tips and tricks around to assist your team with implementing these into their own lives wherever possible. Furthermore, when you are talking to your remote team, try not to multitask and pay attention to them. It can become very annoying to speak with someone while they are tapping away on a keyboard, so don’t be that guy.
Not making spaces for conversation.
When it comes to sharing an office working environment with your team, the days are filled with chances for casual and spontaneous conversations. Team members can take the time to stop by someone's office or cubicle to ask them about their weekend plans, or pop in to get clarification on a project issue, or even catch up on the latest events over lunch.
While these casual conversations may seem unimportant, in reality, they are a part of what causes your team to bond together. Unfortunately, these opportunities for informal conversation are inaccessible for remote teams. Unless these teammates live close to each other, it can be difficult for them to head on over to chat with them, especially if they live in another part of the world.
However, just because those conversations are not happening naturally among remote teams, that does not mean they are not just as vital. To effectively lead your remote team, you need to create spaces for those conversations to start once again.
As a leader, you need to take the time to set up an environment that encourages conversation with and within your remote employees. Check-in with your remote team members during the start of every one-on-one meeting and ask how they are doing, both professionally and personally.
Set aside some time near the need of the week to conduct a virtual happy hour, where everyone gets on a video call and catches up with each other. Creating these chances for your team to connect and chat throughout the day is something that needs to be done. The idea here is to set a place for casual conversation so your team can bond. With remote working preventing those chances for physically hanging out and chit-chatting, it's up to you and the rest of the leadership of the remote team to create a space for those conversations to occur.
Forgetting about time zone differences
If everyone on your remote team works in the same city or even the same time zone, then this situation may not be much of an issue. However, remote working does present you with a massive pool of talent that is recruitable from almost anywhere around the globe. That means if you are expanding towards hiring people from other geographical locations, time zones are a crucial point to consider.
Whereas you may start calling or talking to someone during your working hours, it could be late at night for the other person. That means you need to make sure you are considerate about their hours and attempt to find a middle ground that works for both parties.
One quick way you can alienate your remote working team members is by not taking the time to consider their time zone. As the manager, you need to make some compromises and include everyone in the decision when it comes to choosing the best times for interactions. Use calendars that allow you and the rest of the team to see when people are available in case a team member needs to contact another for specific reasons.
Strict digital communication
When it comes to managing your virtual remote team, it can be easy to keep every bit of your communication digital. While digital communication tools are some of the best ways to stay in touch with your team members more often, keeping things digital at all times doesn’t improve your communication.
If you want to ensure your remote team is successful, you need to be able to communicate openly and effectively. While digital channels are a part of your communication, they should not be your only option. Along with your frequent emails, chat apps, and any other communication tools, make sure you set aside some time for face time with your remote team through video or physical if possible.
These types of face-to-face communication not only make things personal but also grants you an easier time reading on what is really happening with your remote employees and ensures they have everything they require to remain productive and successful.
Rushing through meetings
Virtual meetings have their share of advantages, but they do lack that same comfort experienced through in-person meetings. These in-person meetings allow employees to chime in when they have something important to share in real-time.
Virtual meetings introduce a set of challenges when it comes to conducting meetings. One of those reasons is the lack of being in an actual room, which causes them to feel uncomfortable with the idea of interrupting the speaker to give their input. If you rush through your meetings, your remote team may never have the chance to speak up and contribute to the discussion.
If you neglect this, you will be missing out on their contributions, thoughts, and inputs on the situation at hand. If you feel that your remote team is not contributing as much as they should during a virtual meeting as you would like, the reason could be due to you not offering them enough time or space for them to speak up. Consider pausing habitually during these meetings to grant your remote team the chance to take the floor.
As the leader of your remote team, you need to make sure everything runs smoothly. To ensure your employees remain productive and efficient, you need to make sure your communication is robust. Use the information here to avoid making any potential pitfalls when it comes to communicating with your remote team.