One of the biggest challenges of hybrid work is how to utilise communication strategies to keep remote teams motivated and engaged across different locations, time zones and cultures.
Even with the most high-tech communication strategies, tools and software at our disposal, remote teams are missing a small yet crucial piece of the puzzle — the spontaneous chats that happen when people are waiting for a meeting to start, or when they pass each other in the hall.
It is in these casual conversations that productive working relationships are forged, bonds are strengthened, and the boundaries between disciplines are broken down. So, in their absence, we need to think more creatively about how we approach remote communication and collaboration.
We’ve put together this list of creative communication strategies to help you to overcome the challenges of managing a remote team.
Communication strategies to improve motivation and engagement in remote teams
1. Define and document both goals and processes clearly
It is crucial to not only have the company goals clearly defined and mapped out but to also have a system in place to document expectations, progress, performance and results. It becomes much easier for HR managers to coordinate their teams when they know exactly what each employee’s roles and responsibilities are.
Additionally, when employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, misunderstandings and errors are less likely. This in turn contributes to greater job satisfaction, motivation and productivity.
It also helps employees to feel like valued members of the organisation when they can see how their role fits into the bigger picture.
2. Experiment with various tools and communication strategies
Try different types of communication tools and software to find what works best for your remote team. For example, sending a Loom video to explain an idea can often be more effective than sending an email.
According to Sean Gorman, COO of Panopto, “recorded meetings and videos that can be viewed on demand are simple and effective tools companies can use to bolster focus and productivity among remote employees“.
When it comes to meetings, it takes a bit of work and forward-thinking to make virtual meetings as efficient as in-person ones. A simple way to improve efficiency is to incorporate new tools such as drawing tablets. This way, team members can collaborate and illustrate ideas in real time, regardless of their location.
3. Be consistently available and make time for 1-to-1 check-ins
The key is to keep the lines of communication open, check in with employees frequently (not just when a deadline is due!) and allow plenty of opportunities to give and receive feedback. Make employees feel included by regularly updating them on company news, milestones, and challenges.
According to a recent study conducted by Expert Market, “72% of employees believe critical feedback would improve their work and 85% are motivated by regular updates about company news”.
4. Demonstrate empathy
It can be extremely difficult to gauge people’s feelings and emotions when you’re not seeing them face to face, so it becomes even more important to check in with employees regularly.
As a leader, it is important to empathise with your team, show them that you care about them and value their input.
5. Set an example for communication norms and boundaries
Technology allows us to be connected 24/7 if we want, but that doesn’t mean that we should.
Encourage your team to make use of asynchronous communication tools and the ‘schedule send’ feature on emails. Accommodating different working styles and communication preferences across a remote team can be challenging, but the key thing to remember is that everyone is human.
One simple yet effective strategy is to have everyone write a user manual that outlines things like their personal values, hours of work, preferred methods of communication and so on.
6. Create opportunities for team bonding
In the absence of in-person communication, it’s important to create opportunities for ‘water cooler chats’ — the kind of casual conversations that would happen naturally in an office environment — as well as dedicated times to talk about fun, non-work-related things.
It helps to have a specific Slack channel that is strictly for non-work communication so that the team can get to know each other on a personal level.
In the 2020 Connected Culture report, employees referenced several company actions that helped them feel more connected. These include:
- Frequent employee communication (50%)
- Enhanced collaboration tools (26%)
- Virtual happy hours (24%)
- Peer chats (22%)
- Group video games (15%)
7. Trust your employees to get the work done
As we know, productivity generally does not suffer during remote working, so resist the urge to micromanage your employees. It can cause them to feel stressed and frustrated, resulting in low morale and a lack of engagement and productivity. You wouldn’t stand over their shoulder in an office environment, so don’t do it in a virtual sense either!
Instead, set your sights on the bigger picture — are goals being achieved? Are targets being hit? This is a much better indicator of productivity than checking how your employees spend their time.
Supporting your remote teams begins with good communication strategies
Effective communication is at the heart of any successful business, so try the strategies outlined above to keep your remote team engaged, motivated and productive, and let us know how you get on!
International Achievers Group is your localisation recruitment agency. We pride ourselves on being your trusted source for the latest recruitment and localisation news, trends and industry updates, so be sure to check out our blog and resources for more!