Strong workplaces are all about communication. In fact, great communication is associated with increased morale, productivity, and engagement. But now that many of us have spent months working remotely, we realize just how hard it is to keep a team connected, looped in, and feeling heard. Here's how to leverage your hard-won communicative skills to their fullest extent.
Make It A Point to Check In
Remote working makes it difficult to gauge how your team is faring with particular tasks or projects. While project management software helps you track what's on someone's plate, it doesn't give you insight into what else might be going on in with them, especially during these highly unusual conditions. Additionally, the added challenge of receiving real-time feedback when working remotely might make some people hesitant to ask for help. Make it a point to check in with your team to ensure that they're not feeling confused, overwhelmed, or out of their depth when it comes to their work tasks. Regular communication - along with clear directions and deliverables - can make your team's life that much easier.
Find the Tools That Work
Now that we're a few months into remote working, the chances are that you've embraced the standard videoconferencing and chat tools. But in doing so, make sure that you're using tools that work for your team, and that actually brings you together. Poll your team on how they prefer to work, communicate, and stay in touch, and explore solutions that might encourage greater engagement and participation. Additionally, consider guidelines and expectations around tools like Slack and Zoom. For example, while plenty of people profess to love keeping their cameras off during a group call, being able to see each other's faces is actually a plus for helping maintain connections.
Create Spontaneous Moments
One of the biggest challenges of remote working is that those small spontaneous moments of workplace connection or chit-chat just don't happen. There's no bumping into a project manager at the water cooler, making small talk in the elevator, or stopping by someone's desk on your way to the printer. However, those brief moments are actually invaluable to your team members' feeling of belonging - and are also great for brainstorming and problem-solving as well. While you can't recreate these situations virtually, you can foster a setting that encourages your employees to mingle, talk, and bounce ideas. Create a dedicated slack channel, set aside a few minutes during your regular Zoom catch-ups, or encourage the sharing of links, documents, or works-in-progress. Be sure to participate yourself, and your team will follow your lead.
Avoid Being All Business
While it's easy to get swept up in urgent work-related discussions, great communicators also take the time to connect with their team on a personal level. As part of your regular check-ins, be sure to ask about family members, pets, or hobbies - and try to get a sense of how your team members are feeling from day to day. If you sense they may need help or support, steer them towards resources or tools that can help. Consider also creating opportunities for your team to get together outside of work: online book clubs, virtual escape rooms, Zoom karaoke, and multi-player gaming are all fun ways to keep those workplace connections strong while working remotely.
Don't Forget Your Clients!
Building and maintaining your team relationships is vital. But there's another set of individuals who'll benefit from regular check-ins and thoughtful communication: your clients. Take the time to arrange calls or video chats, and ensure that they're kept in the loop through chats, emails, or newsletters. They'll appreciate the personal touch, and you'll remain top of mind.
Being an effective communicator in an isolated world requires sustained, active effort, but the impact on your team - and your bottom line - is worth it.
Looking for ways to improve your communication while professional distancing? Let's chat!