4 Ways to Improve Communication with Remote Teams
When discussing the possibility of hiring remote workers, your company may express concerns over whether standards when it comes to communication, productivity, and teamwork may take a hit if they begin hiring employees to work outside of the office.
While this is a natural concern, we are here to tell you that even if your company chooses to hire remote employees, it is still more than possible to maintain the same ideals that you hold for your regular, in-office staff.
The key to this is, of course, communication!
By maximizing communication between yourself and your company’s remote employees, it will feel as though they really are a part of the office.
Here are some ways to do just that:
Develop smart remote teams
In a recent study, MIT professors concluded that regardless of an on or offline set-up, the important ingredients for a “smart team” are the same: frequent communication, equal participation, and high emotion-reading skills (empathy, basically).
Part of this comes down to just hiring the right candidates- people with shared values and ethics. And, yes, this sounds a lot like “corporate jargon”, but if your employees aren’t intrinsically motivated to complete a task and aren’t on-board with the company mission, they are more likely to procrastinate their work, leading to lower levels of productivity.
Additionally, it’s also important to make sure that your remote workers are comfortable with the communication technology that your company prefers to use. For instance, if you prefer to communicate with employees via video chat rather than e-mail, you’ll want to be sure that those in your charge are all comfortable using that form of communication.
It’s important to invest in people and to treat them as you would any onsite worker. So, essentially, invest in travel and get to know your remote employees face-to-face, if possible. (Many remote companies plan at least semi-annual meetups for their workforce!) Build rapport. Keep your personal connections alive by discussing topics outside out work. Include remote employees in online communication channels, be it Slack, Skype, Perch or another tool that your company uses.
Remember: remote workers are as much part of the company as any other employee and should be treated as such. Recognition goes a long way.
Recognize Individual Contributions
It’s important to set up clear “Objectives and Key Results” (OKRs) for all of your employees. Use project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Microsoft Project for this.
Once all of your workers know the tasks that they need to complete, be sure to recognize (both publicly and privately) the accomplishments of your workforce. Weekly shout-outs on general company channels, for instance, go a long way.
Praise in public criticize in private. Encourage one-on-ones with your employees. As an engineering leader, these meetings may not seem essential, but one-on-ones should be the most crucial thing in your calendar. They help your team members become a better version of themselves. One-on-ones should not just be about the manager giving the employees feedback. Leaders must listen to their employees and ease out their pain points.
Over-Communicate with your remote teams
When trying to make up for the lack of physical interaction, over-communicating (communicating more often, with more detail than you normally would) is the best way to build and maintain a steady working relationship with your remote employees.
Be sure to use multiple communication channels to keep up with your employees- e-mail, text, phone, video, etc. However, do not send the same message to your remote workers via multiple channels. You want your frequent communications to serve specific purposes, rather than become redundant and unwelcomed by your employees.
As an engineering leader, you should learn to read the virtual room. Try to read through the emotions of your remote employees and ensure that no one in your team is overwhelmed. You will have to ensure that everyone in the team has access to HR, managers, and all the tools required to work remotely. Moreover, establish strict guidelines around working hours and ensure none of your employees are disturbed outside their working hours. Make sure that your remote employees enjoy the work-life balance.
Two Is Better Than One- Pair Your Workers!
A recent study found that paired programmers work “twice as fast” to produce code that is simpler, better designed, and easier to extend. The study proves that not only does paired programming keep things fun for remote workers, it also greatly improves productivity.
All workers, at the end of the day, are human beings and social creatures. Therefore, by making the workplace a less isolating experience, you are sure to get far more from your employees in the way of quality work.
Remote workers may not be physically in your office, but by following the steps listed above, they can still feel like a central part of your workplace, while allowing you, as an employer, to take advantage of remote talent that may not have been available to you otherwise.
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