Communication strategies for working virtually, in hybrid work, or in part-remote work
Many of us tend to love virtual work. Businesses having remote employees report a productivity boost. The flexible, work-from-home environment allows you to retain talent that cannot relocate to your business location.
Sometimes though, you can run into complications with your communication strategies when working in remote work environments. In this article, we cover simple strategies that will help you communicate more effectively with your virtual employees.
Focus on video
This cannot be stressed enough. In remote workplaces, it is imperative to increase the focus on videos. Videos allow you to capture the best possible reactions, which are key to effective communication.
In virtual offices, we do phone calls, email, chat and even screen-sharing all day long. But video chat allows you to see what the other person thinks about an idea or an offer in real-time. If they give a shocking face, you can tell how they perceive the idea you just shared.
If a team member disagrees, they can simply shake their head left and right to signal a no. Or, if someone agrees to the point being discussed, they can shake their head up and down, signalling a yes.
These small points add up to make videos one of the best tools for effective communication in remote teams.
It’s really nice to be able to see the reactions even though you’re not in person.
Video is an excellent form of communication. If not on a regular basis, you should consider holding a video conference meeting with your virtual team at least once a month.
Use dynamic tools – polls, chat, slides, videos
Just because you aren’t in person doesn’t mean you cannot make it a more dynamic experience.
Communication software like Hangouts and Slack are out there. You can spice up your conversations using dynamic tools like chat, instant messages, screen shares, file shares, polls, visual presentations and much more.
Don’t be afraid to make your virtual meetings more dynamic. After all, these are really powerful tools, and it makes sense to use the technology for improving communication with your remote team members.
Make things easier
If you’re in an office and you’re sitting back to back with someone who’s at your desk, you won’t hesitate to ask them what they think about a document or a slide you just created.
In virtual settings, more effort is somehow required to ask people their opinion. You have to open your email, schedule a meeting, wait for the meeting to happen, and it turns into more of a presentation. So there’s a lot more time and effort that goes into that communication process.
If there’s any way you can make things easier for the remote team, you’ll have a lot more frequent, casual communication, and that might lead to a lot more ideas being bounced back and forth, a lot more cross-collaboration, which is the basis of effective communication.
Some teams schedule a specific time every week for video chats, and use that time to ask for ideas and suggestions rather than turning every presentation or every meeting into a really formal and time-consuming presentation.
Digital body language
Body language is part of your nonverbal communication strategy. Think about your own body language.
You should be able to show more of your body in the video. If you bring the computer too close to your face, it takes away from seeing more of the body’s reactivity, like shoulder movement or hand gestures. We like to see more of the other person – especially the hand gestures – because it helps build trust.
Fit your personality
This is important because everyone feels differently about remote work. Introverts tend to love remote work. They like to brainstorm and process alone.
Ambiverts are kind of in-between extroverts and introverts. They can be around people, and they like being around certain kinds of people and in certain kinds of situations but not all the time. They tend to like remote work as long as they have some in-person check ins and hobbies.
Extroverts tend to suffer the most from remote work. They really thrive around people. They like to brainstorm around people.
If they’re having a good day, they really enjoy camaraderie. If they’re having a bad day, they want to reach out and be soothed by people.
It’s really important to know where you fall in the personality spectrum to create either work communication strategy or work-life balance strategy that works for you.
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