Internal communication challenges in the remote work environment can significantly impact productivity. When a company doesn’t focus on internal communication, remote employees may lose motivation and fall behind on assignments and tasks. On top of that, customers get poor service.
More and more organizations are adopting remote work models. If such a model is well-managed, it helps reduce costs while maintaining high-quality work. Communication is a key here and can be maintained through diverse channels, such as:
- Telephone calls.
- Video calls.
- Chat/instant messaging.
- Social media.
- Online virtual meeting applications.
- Internal knowledge base in a text or video format.
Each channel can facilitate communication but also be a source of stress, time wastage, and demotivation. That’s why it’s essential to create a solid internal communication strategy using the right platforms.
A recent study shows 72% of remote workers do not understand the communication strategies of their organizations. Another 44% feel that employers do not provide enough information concerning the organization’s strategic plan.
Communication in a remote work environment is challenging because there is no face-to-face communication. Team members can be in different time zones, which makes it harder to create effective accountability or get real-time responses. And poor communication strategies lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
But how do you know what you need to correct? Below, we’ve gathered eight common virtual workplace internal communication mistakes you must pay attention to.
1. A Lack Of Transparency
Transparency is key to retaining trust with teams. When your organization doesn’t have enough, your workers become disengaged as they grapple with information gaps. They may start to complain. As a result, you begin to micromanage remote workers, thinking it will help you solve the problem.
Transparency means managing remote teams so that they understand what actions are required and how they are done. It involves effectively providing feedback, avoiding criticism, and being open and accountable.
Several strategies will help you promote transparency in your team:
- Agree to learn from your team by asking for suggestions from them.
- Help them understand work protocols, guidelines, and expected quality.
- If you are late with anything (whether it’s assignments, feedback, or payments), explain before your remote workers ask for answers.
- To maintain transparency, adopt techniques like AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions and open dashboards with corporate OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).
2. Scheduling Too Many Meetings
Meetings are just as valuable to remote teams as they are to traditional office-goers. They provide a forum for sharing ideas and making decisions, and they help build stronger work relationships.
With that said, too many meetings can hurt an organization.
The teams can feel disgruntled, micromanaged, and even stressed if there are too many daily stand-ups or Zoom calls. This impacts morale and, in turn, productivity, as excessive meetings don’t allow employees to focus on their main tasks and meet deadlines. Recent research shows 92% of remote workers believe too many meetings are costly and unproductive.
Limit the number of meetings you require by turning to other communication channels. This can include emails, polls, and interactive whiteboards for brainstorms. Recording all meetings can also be a good option if you work with a distributed team.
3. Inefficient Messaging
A message contains important information the sender expects the recipient to read and act on — but if the message is unclear or contains insufficient details, the recipient may interpret it incorrectly. This, in turn, can lead to tense situations, lack of inspiration, poor collaboration, and unproductive work.
To avoid inefficient messaging, take the following actions:
- Be keen on your communication language.
- Avoid messages that show emotions.
- Send messages on time.
- Have timely responses.
- Use the right channels.
4. Outdated Communication Tools
Technology has evolved, and modern communication tools ensure seamless workflow and high productivity levels. With that said, the typical workday of a remote employee is usually complex, and they often cannot know until the last minute how it will pan out. To overcome this problem, most technology companies rely on time management and productivity tools for their workers. Some well-known tools include Habetica, Slack, Timely, Cold Turkey, Pastebin, and Notion
Mobile device management solutions (MDM) are also important for IT support to ensure better hardware management for remote teams when they need to update, install, or uninstall any corporate software.
5. Ignoring Regular Feedback
Feedback is an important asset that keeps teams motivated, synchronized, and engaged. It lets employees know how they’re performing, as well as where they need to improve (like bugs in the code or corporate behavior).
You need to focus on providing positive and negative feedback, but it must be done in a way that does not provoke your team members. At its best, feedback acts as reinforcement that keeps workers motivated. It helps improve their interest in work and leads to better outcomes.
Your organization should foster a feedback culture that is purposeful, continuous, and two-way. Strategies that work best are as follows:
- Create a feedback routine.
- Have multiple feedback channels.
- Cultivate a growth mindset.
- Foster an open-door policy.
- Use tools to automate feedback like Enterpret, Synergita, or Infeedo.
- Implement a regular one-on-one policy.
6. Offering No Flexibility
Remote employees need management, but they also need the freedom to choose their most relevant schedules and work methods. People have different work styles based on where they live, what they do, and what their family needs from them. One remote worker might have evening college classes, while another might have young kids to take care of. When you fail to provide flexibility, many remote teams may choose to quit or deliver low-quality work.
Use the following strategies to allow flexibility:
- Do not assume: Avoid assuming that every worker is available when you want. Define the roles but discuss with them when they can work.
- Allow more control: It is okay to guide remote workers on what needs to be done, how to do it, and by when. However, it is not okay to control everything they do. You can get better results if you allow the workers to control projects and be responsible for their actions.
- Communicate consistently: Consistent communication keeps everything clear. It promotes transparency and provides better work options for dislocated or hybrid teams that are mostly using asynchronous communication channels. Moreover, transparent communication helps with career growth as employees learn about internal hiring opportunities really quickly.
7. Not Enough Socializing
Socialization is important for the positive mental health of your remote workers. Working for many hours without social interactions makes them feel isolated and could develop stress or depression. There are different ways to help your remote teams socialize.
- Create small group meetups.
- Create a company internal social network.
- Introduce remote workers to each other.
- Provide suggestions to take breaks and socialize.
- Promote cross-team sharing.
8. Forgetting To Celebrate Results
Celebrating your team’s results will make your remote workers feel confident, motivated, and engaged. Such culture increases retention and employee loyalty; as a result, you’re improving your employer branding. Always celebrate the results when a worker does well, like meeting targets or delivering beyond expectations.
There are different ways to achieve this:
- Share their success story with others (via Kudos or internal newsletter).
- Call them and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work.
- Give appreciation gifts.
- Organize online team building.
- Give extra pay for a day off.
Building A Strong Virtual Workplace
Effective internal communication is key when you want your employees to be loyal and consistent high performers.
To achieve this, managers need to create transparent communication channels with their remote teams. This includes using the right communication tools, cultivating regular feedback, celebrating achievements, and providing flexibility. Also, consider avoiding excessive meetings and promoting team activities to engage your workers.
|Aron Joyce is a freelance writer specializing in HR processes and employee engagement. He is also passionate about the topic of remote work challenges and likes to share his expertise in remote team management.
This article is part of Buildremote’s contributor series. Occasionally, we’ll share other people’s ideas about running a remote company. If you have a topic you’d like to pitch for Buildremote, send us an idea here.