Working remotely can put a strain on the communication between coworkers. If it is true that the majority of communication is nonverbal, then working remotely can put your team at a disadvantage. You don’t have the opportunity to see a person’s facial expressions or hear their tone of voice while speaking which can make all the difference. Good communication relies on those things for context and meaning.
That’s why it is more important than ever to improve your virtual and digital communication tactics. Here are 10 tips for better communication while working remotely:
1. Keep Communication Consistent
So much has changed already in terms of moving businesses online and at home, so it is important to keep communication consistent when you can. Do you usually have staff meetings on Mondays? Or a brainstorming session on Thursdays? If so, try to keep it the same. The fewer changes people have to adjust to, the easier they will be able to keep up. At iCopy, we love to use Slack for constant team communication and feedback.
2. Make Video Calls a Priority
Thanks to technology, there is still an opportunity to meet with people face-to-face, even if it is through a computer screen. It may not be the same as in-person meetings, but video meetings and Google hangouts allow you to communicate more fully by seeing more of that non-verbal communication. So much is communicated through our faces. Just don’t forget to mute!
3. Over-Communicate, Don’t Assume
When it comes to communicating details or other important information, it is always better to over-communicate rather than under-communicate. Don’t assume that someone will grasp your meaning if it isn’t clear, and don’t assume they know something if it hasn’t been clearly stated and repeated. Don’t forget to check in with people. Go above and beyond. Empathize with your peers and see how they’re doing.
4. Watch Your Tone
It is easy for digital communication to come across with the wrong tone, especially via email. Re-read emails before sending them to review the tone, and ask yourself how it would sound if you were on the receiving end. Try not to capitalize entire words, and be careful of tone that could come off as aggressive rather than assertive. Pro tip: if you’re concerned how the tone will come across, take the time to call or schedule a chat in person.
5. Make It Fun
There’s no reason that virtual communication can’t still be fun! Fun builds morale and motivates people in the workplace. Look for opportunities to add in fun moments for your team throughout each day and each week. Maybe even consider different prizes or incentives that would reward hard work and also give employees something to look forward to. You could send everyone a gift card to support a local business and have everyone share at staff meeting which business they chose to support.
6. Set Clear Expectations
Clear expectations help everyone win. Don’t leave things open-ended or up for interpretation. Give as much detail as you can, as well as firm guidelines and deadlines. Even if you have to say “this could change tomorrow or even next week”. Communication quickly falls apart without clear expectations.
7. Get Feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask your team how you’re doing in your communication. It is a new experience for most people to be working remotely and no one is going to do it perfectly. Feedback can help you change what isn’t working, and incorporate better ideas. A unified team is an efficient one!
8. Try New Tools
This is a great time to consider utilizing new tools or software that allows you to communicate more efficiently. Not only between coworkers but directly regarding your work as well. Software such as Nimbus allows attorneys and paralegals to improve communication and efficiency in retrieving records. They are directly connected to a dedicated account manager and have instant access to each request's status. No waiting, just answers right when you need them. Communication is a powerful tool all around!
What has been a helpful tech app for you in this season? We want to know! At iCopy, we have loved using bill.com.
9. Ask For Clarity
If you receive an email or message that you don’t fully understand, ask for clarity rather than assuming or guessing. It is better to be safe than sorry! Especially when you are communicating about time-sensitive or crucial information. On top of that, always helpful to get a second opinion!
It’s also important to consider the clarity of your branding and messaging. Do you need help with social media presence and/or what you’re communicating online? We recommend Simple Social!
10. Be Kind (a.k.a. The Golden Rule)
Probably the most important tip is to remember to be kind in all of your communication. Information can be clearly communicated without being negatively slanted. Everyone is doing their best to manage the new reality of working remotely, and it is stressful for everyone. Choosing kindness will only lead to better communication and improved efficiency.