4 Tips to Improve Communication in Remote Teams
One of the biggest challenges remote workers face is a lack of communication. While the water cooler may have been supplanted by the Keurig — or the keg, if we’re talking tech — the office meetup space has no true remote equivalent. Whether one person on your team is remote or all of them are, the impact is the same: even with the best of intentions, asynchronous chat communication just isn’t the same as in-person, real-time interactions. However, while in-person is the gold standard, that doesn’t mean that you can’t set remote employees up for a terrific experience. Here are four simple ways to help remote workers feel like they’re in the same room:
1. Get a team communications platform 🗣
One-to-one messaging is great for one-to-one conversations, but team communication requires more than just email. Not only are team communications platforms great for announcements, they enable company- or team-wide conversations. Whether that’s telling everyone about benefits enrollment, celebrating a win, highlighting someone who exemplifies a company value, or just sharing Baby Yoda memes, creating a larger conversation that won’t get lost in an inbox allows for real-time interaction regardless of where an employee is based. Throw out random ideas in your team communications platform of choice, and get immediate feedback from the larger group — just as you would in an office.
2. Invest in quality video conferencing technology 📺
If someone can’t be in the room, they can at least be “in the room.” Video conferencing technology has improved greatly in recent years, and here at Guru, with a bicoastal team, we use it regularly for both important and, uh, less important meetings. Getting actual face-time doesn’t need to be dependent on being physically in the office, but making sure you have a quality video solution is a must. Trying to FaceTime in isn’t going to work — choose a solution that is specifically tailored for group conferencing, and use it at every opportunity.
The challenge with this technology is that you might have to continually encourage everyone to turn their cameras on. One of the biggest issues remote workers highlight is a feeling of isolation, and that can be exacerbated by phone-only or camera-off meetings.
3. Document tacit knowledge in your knowledge base 🤗
Word-of-mouth, shoulder-tapping, impromptu brainstorming: these are all methods of sharing knowledge in-person on a one-off basis — and one that remote workers will never have access to. When those conversations happen in the office, make sure the end result gets captured in your knowledge base for easy search and access, regardless of where an employee is based. Did you come up with a genius new sales tactic? A better workflow? A simple piece of code that just makes everything a lot better? Add it to your KB! When you stop restricting your KB to formal documentation, you give your remote employees access to those same epiphanies that onsite employees share organically, and you give those who are remote a way to share theirs as well.
4. Share your life stories 📖
One of our favorite ways to allow everyone to get to know each other here at Guru is to create and share our “life stories” in our knowledge base (which is… Guru!). Whether we work from home, Philadelphia, or San Francisco, we all get the same opportunity to show the company who we are, which makes it way easier to spark conversations that might not happen otherwise.