The New Normal avid Covid pandemic that we are adapting to is very challenging, especially with remote work on the rise. This unprecedented change requires businesses and employers to implement remote communication best practices to master the new virtual workplace.
The matter of communication has raised several topics in how it affects productivity and work outcomes, even with Covid-19 out of the picture.
This matter exacerbates as the pandemic takes its tolls on the world, making remote work is a must for businesses to operate with safe and continuity. At-work communication alone is cumbersome enough, yet remote work communication has posed more alarming issues that might hinder business operations.
As illustrated in this chart, more than half of the asked IT leaders indicated that remote worker management is the most pressing challenge for remote work communication. The following issues are the cost of remote work solutions, device management and increased work burdens.
So the question that every business managers, CIOs, or even CEOs have to answer now is how to implement the remote communication best practices in their operations.
In this article, we will discuss the remote communication best practices in 5 different aspects:
- Remote work management
- How to communicate when working remote
- Device management for effective communication
- Remote work environment
- Training when working remote
Remote work management
The first and foremost aspect that every manager wants to ask about remote work communication best practices is management. Management used to be task allocation, monitoring and administration, etc. With a co-located team, managers can easily track on cues to indicate the communication issues and involve in fixing them. In contrast, a remote team works off the screen, prompting challenges for the managers.
From a place of having physical and emotional contact, managers now have little to no direct interaction with their employees. From a place of easy-to-manage work platforms such as Skype or Excel spreadsheets, managers are required to implement some of the tools and approaches to achieve remote work communication best practices.
Cloud project management tools
With remote communication, managers want to increase their involvement in how the task is done by the team members. With the fear of the employees abandon their posts and lose focus on the job, some managers implement extreme measures of hourly reports and micro-managing.
Well, this is not a very “healthy” approach for management. Rather than impose unreasonable rules on the staff, many managers have come to the cloud project management tools such as Trello or Asana.
These tools have proven their productivity in managing tasks within projects as it can split the work into smaller tasks. For every task, staff can add details, deadlines, to-do lists, etc.
Some of these also support calendar sharing and file sharing, creating a very convenient and straightforward work environment.
Another great thing about these managing tools is push notifications. When the task dues, when the sub-tasks should be completed to keep up with the overall plan, etc. are all integrated upon customization.
No more micro-managing
Many CEOs and CIOs find it hard to resist the urge to micro-managing. For some cases, micro-managing can be very tempting as it can help managers prevent employees from wasting time on their personal affairs.
It is challenging to control remote teams when the managers can go and see what their staff are doing. Many of them try to contact team members numerous times a day to manage and assess their work. Although this bulk control might be effective at first but it will eventually suppress team’s morale.
Successful remote work is not limited to the result of one project. It is also about how you encourage members and not bombard them with calls and emails.
Micro-managing was never an effective approach for management in the long run. And the overuse of this can lead to team members feeling like they’re not trusted. To omit micro-managing from your system, try to come to management platforms to get what your staff are doing.
For any projects, especially IT ones, schedule, progress, requirement, KPIs must be clarified.
Agreement in schedule and progress should be built based on:
- Your project release plan or business plan
- The estimation of team leaders of how much work their staff can do
For requirements and KPI, they should be based on the projects’ goals and objectives. KPIs can vary greatly with different projects. They include but are not limited to:
- Response time measures the time for the tech team to respond to bugs and defects
- Product backlog indicates the number of tasks expected to be done
- Schedule compliance measures the ability to follow the predesigned plans.
How to communicate when working remote
The method in which businesses use to communicate with their teammates should also be changed as remote work is taking in.
Use video conferencing
Perhaps the most fundamental way to improve remote work communication is to switch to video calls. It can also help improve the performance of your remote team.
As there are 3 types of distances in a remote team, including Physical (physical and time distance), Operational (skill level differences), and Affinity (shared value and trust differences).
With any of these types, face-to-face contact can help connect the team member through emotional bonds. With pictures of emotions and attitudes transferred through, a sense of familiarity and bonding is formed. Instead of dull screens, team members have the tendency to involve more in the conversation, hence a more effective way of communicating.
In a normal workplace, employees have the space and time to walk up to the managers and discuss his/her problems. However, in a remote work situation, this is impossible. For an employee, texting his employers is something very difficult, as they might think that texting is something more intimate that should come from friends and family.
In this case, the managers should be the one who encourages the one-on-one setting. With a familiar messaging tool such as Skype or Slack, this one-on-one chatting session can be very easy and effective.
Virtual “water cooler”
The term water cooler is used to refer to the time/place in which the team has a small hangout for them to talk about their personal lives. Of course, with a remote work setting, a “water cooler” time means video chatting for team members to keep up with each other’s lives.
It can be either a 30-minute session or it can be or more, and it should be conducted weekly.
Device management for best practices
For remote work communication best practices, managers should also contemplate device management to have effective communication.
For example, if you want your employees to stay connected through video calls, you have to make sure the mic and the webcam on their computer work. If they don’t work, what is your next action as the manager? What kind of allocation needed to provide the comprehensive tools for your staff to communicate? If you don’t have enough devices to allocate, what is your next action?
Get the answer to these questions, and you should keep in mind that to provide sufficient infrastructure for your staff is to provide a supportive remote work communication and environment.
Remote work environment
The emerging trends of remote work require managers to take serious measures to cope with the unprecedented change amid the pandemic. To take matters into your hands and operate a well-oiled machine, managers have to build a professional yet supporting remote work environment.
To achieve such environment, the first thing to be done is the formation of remote work policy outlines. With a well-designed and robust workflow created by reasonable work policies, employers can further streamline and manage IT projects.
There’s one thing you should know about creating remote work policy. This set of rules should go into detail about every aspect of remote work, including working hours, legal rights, cybersecurity requirements. Other than that, the means of communication and how employees should communicate throughout the work-from-home process should be indicated clearly.
With a remote work policy on your hands, employers are still prone to many problems when implementing it. Whenever this happens, it is highly recommended that they should look back into what has been done and what could have been done to revamp the situation. Sitting down with your employees to figure out the right remote work environment is also a must.
Besides setting remote work policy, employers should also be open more to flexibility. Your employees have the right to work in the hours that work best for them. Flexible working hours, objective-oriented management, virtual team building activities are the factors that can contribute to supportive remote work communication.
Training when working remote
To provide sufficient and comprehensive knowledge for employees, even when working from home, employers have to contemplate training in their preparation.
Training, in this case, not only means technical training but also system-scale training. By that, we meant the training of procedures, working process. and how to communicate effectively.
To transfer knowledge from one staff to another, the employers should conduct regular training on both technical, mindset and work process aspects. There should be also a checkpoint test to ensure team members can understand the knowledge.
Communication in a remote team doesn’t have to be as overwhelming or all-consuming as it used to be. To achieve remote work communication best practices, you should focus on the management, method of communication, device for communication, training for communication and remote work environment.
If you want to talk to an expert about this matter, you can contact us via:
- Website: https://www.lotus-qa.com/
- Tel: (+84) 24-6660-7474
- Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/LotusQualityAssurance