4 Tips to Boost Multi and Remote Location Communications
There are a multitude of ways that office-based teams interact with one another. There are the traditional conference-room meetings, popping into someone’s office to ask a quick question, brainstorming around a whiteboard, lunch meetings, chatting it up in the break room, and many other ways co-workers bond and interact with each other. However, the topic for today is how to create opportunities for all these types of communication when your company is spread across multiple cities, states, and countries.
First, before we look at our 4 tips, it’s important to understand the three types of communication that all remote teams need to incorporate into their workflows:
Building relationships, strategizing, and resolving complex problems are all easier while in the same room.
Examples of these include the following: company retreats, meetups, and other company-wide face-to-face events.
This is fundamental to most multi-office and remote, distributed teams. Instead of a live conversation happening in real time, it’s a back-and-forth exchange, in writing, that happens as each person’s schedule allows.
Examples of this include: email, direct messaging, and management platforms.
This refers to live phone-based back-and-forth communication. Modern technology has given us plenty of other options. Synchronous communication is a good option when things need to happen quickly, or when it’s important to ask questions and get immediate answers. This is key for most businesses as it enables participants to bounce ideas off each other and receive active feedback.
Examples of synchronous communication are: live chat, online voice calls, phone calls, video calls, or video meetings.
With a plan in place, effective multi-office (and remote office) communication is possible to achieve. Here are 4 tips to make it a reality:
- Use Calendars and Task Management Tools
When offices and teams aren’t all in the same location—and may be working very different hours—special care needs to be taken to keep track of when people are available and what’s getting done, especially for projects that require contributions with participation from multiple people. Sharing online calendars or schedules, posting updates about availability and time off, and using World Time Buddy when planning meetings or other team activities can all be good practices.
- Each Communication Method Needs a Purpose
With all the communication tools and apps out there, it is easy to add new channels to your team’s workflow. More options might seem to encourage more robust communication, but sometimes more isn’t better and having too many communication methods can become chaotic and overwhelming. The antidote to “communication overwhelm” is simply giving each tool or platform a specific purpose. Instead of leaving it up to team members to check in with co-workers on any platform, specify one platform for live chatting and another when messages are not that urgent. When employees have a plan ahead of time, everyone can avoid wasted time and frustration.
- Take the Time to Get to Know Everyone!
In an office, getting to know your co-workers is automatically built into the environment. You spend most of your week together: working side by side, eating lunch together while talking through tough projects, chatting around the coffee pot. Your employees are bound to develop a relationship with one another. With multi-office companies and remote, distributed teams, this is simply not the case. Creating a dedicated online chat space is a great way to start! One way to do this is to create a separate channel for everyday chit chat in your communication platform. This will help reduce the feeling of distance between team members and create a sense of community.
- Celebrate Your Wins
When employees are working at other locations or at a home office, they most likely feel a separation between them and yourself. This feeling of disconnect is preventable. Support team morale and reward good work by publicly recognizing accomplishments—both at the individual and group level. There’s nothing that energizes a team more than feeling that they successfully worked together to accomplish something.
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