Remote and hybrid work are here to stay, but have you considered the impact these working frameworks have on your ability to effectively communicate with your entire team? The numbers indicate that it’s worth a think. 43% of employees are working in a fully remote capacity, according to our 2023 Workplace experience trends & insights report. And that makes it critical for business leaders to prioritize communication and the right tools for managing teams remotely.
An effective remote – and hybrid – workforce strategy offers huge benefits, including better collaboration and productivity. It also has the potential to lower employee turnover, simply by making work more enjoyable, and helping employees feel more visible, connected to their peers, and recognized for their hard work.
Here are top tips to share with your team leaders and managers to help them become effective leaders of your remote or hybrid workforce.
Tips for how to improve communication with remote workers
1. Clearly communicate expectations and goals
How can virtual leaders ensure effective communication with remote workers? Start by establishing clear expectations and goals. Then make sure your workforce actually sees them by sharing through your company intranet, employee app, and digital signage, if appropriate. That way access to information is democratized and everyone gets the same messages in the right moments,, and no one feels out of the loop.
2. Choose the right technology and tools
There are dozens of tools that can help manage remote and hybrid teams. Look for those designed specifically for distributed workforces. Prioritize software that’s developed to ensure employees are engaged through internal communications.
Think about tools to promote collaboration: video conferencing, calendar and room booking, chat platforms, and project management software. Don’t forget to consider how these apps and tools work together and consolidate where possible so employees aren’t spending their days context switching between tools, which can lead to increased stress and frustration.
3. Optimize your onboarding and opportunities for learning
You only get one chance to make a first impression – in life and in onboarding. Giving remote workers a strong start is essential for building a capable and cohesive team that feels empowered to work productively even when they are remote. It sets the foundation for a successful long-term relationship between your employees and your organization.
Technology is crucial here. A warm virtual welcome and introduction to the team helps to establish positive communication and reduces any feeling of isolation. Having a unified hub to access essential information and resources helps new employees feel empowered to help themselves. Making training and tutorials accessible via your intranet lets them learn at their own pace.
Offer virtual training sessions and professional development opportunities to help remote workers enhance their skills and advance in their careers.
4. Set clear guidelines for communication
Set expectations for communication frequency, response times, and preferred channels. Create a communication policy that outlines when to use each tool and how to handle urgent and non-urgent messages.
Provide the right tools to champion a culture of open and honest communication where remote workers feel comfortable and supported sharing their thoughts.
5. Prioritize regular check-ins
Schedule regular one-on-one connections and team meetings to touch base with remote workers. These meetings are essential for providing feedback, clarifying expectations, and addressing any concerns or challenges.
Our report found that many remote workers feel out of the loop. And almost a quarter (23%) struggle with feeling a sense of coworker camaraderie. Prioritizing regular check-ins provides a framework for communication and helps to nurture a sense of belonging. It’s also a great way to gauge wellbeing and combat isolation and loneliness – two common concerns for remote workers.
6. Encourage social interaction and engagement
Plan virtual team-building exercises and social events to foster a sense of camaraderie and team spirit among remote workers and with their hybrid and on-site peers.
Whether online or in-person, support your employees’ connections in whatever capacity is best for them – whether that looks like a quick virtual coffee chat or co-working time.
Even informal connections can help strengthen relationships and build trust. Online employee support groups go a long way to nurture a positive culture and support wellbeing among workers.
7. Be flexible when managing teams remotely
A remote work environment requires leaders to pay close attention to what works best for employees. Stay flexible and open-minded to strategies and technologies that will keep employees connected and communicating.
Remote or hybrid teams are often made up of people in different time zones. Be considerate of everyone’s situation and try to find meeting times and work schedules that work for all team members, or rotate meeting times to ensure fairness.
8. Acknowledge achievements
Recognize and appreciate the efforts and accomplishments of remote workers. Publicly praise their contributions during team meetings or through company-wide communications. Use digital workplace tools that make it easy for employees to reinforce praise with comments and likes (like the Appspace Intranet).
9. Ask for feedback and be ready to adapt
Effective management of remote and hybrid workers demands constant assessment and evaluation. Ask for feedback from remote workers, their leaders, and their co-workers to help identify pain points and adjust your approach accordingly.
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