How to communicate effectively when working remotely: 10 proven tips

Rocket.Chat Content Team
December 6, 2022
min read

Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to communicate with your colleagues remotely? It can be challenging to communicate effectively with remote teams for several reasons, like lack of face-to-face interaction, time zone differences, and difficulties with technology. In fact, 20% of workers say communication is their number one challenge while working from home. 

remote work communication

In a traditional office setting, it's easy to have impromptu meetings, share ideas and feedback face-to-face, and collaborate on projects. Communication is essential to any functional team. But remote work communication can be incredibly demanding.

What can leaders do to make remote work communication more effective in their teams?

Communication is vital for businesses because it helps improve collaboration among team members. When everyone is on the same page, it enables the smooth flow of information, ideas, and feedback within the organization. This can help improve decision-making and problem-solving. 

Effective communication can also help build strong relationships and trust among team members, which is essential for building a positive work culture. Here are ten tips on how leaders can make remote work communication more effective in their teams:

1. Diversify communication

When working remotely, it's important to diversify your communication to ensure that you connect effectively with your colleagues and team. This can include using chat and video conferencing tools for real-time conversations and meetings. 

It's also crucial to use 1-1 communication to have impactful conversations with your colleagues and team communication to discuss projects and updates with your entire team.

Additionally, consider arranging cross-team meetings and project-based communication to facilitate collaboration and information sharing between teams and projects. These meetings and conversations can enhance remote work productivity and ensure everyone is on the same page and functioning toward the same goal.

2. Mix synchronous and asynchronous communication

Synchronous communication refers to real-time communication, such as chat and video conferencing, where everyone participates simultaneously. On the other hand, asynchronous communication refers to communication that happens at different times, such as email and messaging.

Combining synchronous and asynchronous communication can be effective when working remotely, especially when your team is spread out across different time zones. Using various communication tools and approaches, you can ensure that everyone can participate and share information, regardless of location. 

3. Encourage bottom-up communication

Encouraging bottom-up communication in a remote work setting is vital for ensuring that all team members can share their ideas, suggestions, and feedback with their leaders and managers. In a traditional office setting, it's often easier for employees to approach their managers and share their thoughts. But when working remotely, it can be more challenging for employees to have these conversations then and there.

One way to encourage bottom-up communication is to create specific channels or forums for employees to share their ideas and feedback. This includes regular check-ins with managers, virtual suggestion boxes, or online forums where employees can share their thoughts and ideas.

4. Make room for water cooler talk

Making room for casual conversation while working remotely is important for maintaining connections and building relationships with your colleagues. In a traditional office setting, water cooler talk often happens naturally. Employees run into each other in the break room or hallway and have casual conversations about their lives, interests, or the latest news. But when working remotely, these opportunities for informal chats are limited. It becomes more difficult for employees to connect and build relationships with their colleagues.

One way to make room for water cooler talk while working remotely is to employ tools and platforms that facilitate casual conversation and collaboration. For example, you can use a tool like Donut, which pairs employees randomly for virtual coffee or lunch breaks, or Watercooler Trivia, which sends out daily trivia questions to encourage employees to engage with each other and build connections.

5. Try to avoid app fatigue

App fatigue is a common challenge for remote teams. The abundance of communication and collaboration tools can make it overwhelming for employees to keep track of all their interactions and responsibilities. When employees constantly switch between different apps and platforms to communicate and collaborate, it can lead to frustration, confusion, and, ultimately, a decline in their productivity.

remote work communication

To avoid app fatigue and make remote work communication more effective, remote teams need to streamline communication and ensure that their tools are connected and integrated. This can involve using a single platform for all communication and collaboration, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, which provides a central hub for all interactions and activities. There are also several alternatives to these platforms available that can be leveraged. 

6. Train people on how to give constructive feedback

It can be tricky, but providing constructive feedback is a necessary part of remote work communication to help things improve. Encourage employees to be specific and give examples to back up their claims so that the person understands exactly what they did and how it impacted you or the team. Additionally, promptly giving feedback is critical. If you wait too long, the person may not recall the situation or have already moved on to other topics. 

Also, while offering constructive feedback, listening to the person's response and being receptive to their perspectives are crucial. This will promote a sense of teamwork and collaboration and make it simpler for the person to receive and implement your feedback.

7. Communicate in moderation

When working remotely, it is recommended to keep communication with your team moderate. This means not overwhelming your colleagues with constant messages and updates but not withholding vital information or failing to check in regularly. Striking the right balance is essential for maintaining productive and efficient remote work communication without micromanaging.

8. Encourage cross-departmental projects

Enabling cross-departmental projects is a great way to foster collaboration and learning within an organization. By bringing together employees from different departments, such projects provide opportunities for individuals to learn from each other and share their unique perspectives and expertise. 

In addition to promoting learning and innovation, cross-departmental projects can also improve remote work communication and collaboration within an organization. By working together on a shared project, employees from different departments get to know each other better and learn how to communicate effectively and collaborate.

9. Encourage proactiveness and ownership

Encouraging proactivity and ownership within the company can have several benefits. Organizations can foster a culture of accountability and responsibility by teaching employees to be proactive and take ownership of their work. This can lead to increased productivity and efficiency, as employees are more likely to take the initiative and complete tasks without constant supervision.

Implementing a reach-out strategy for the entire company can influence proactivity and ownership. This could involve establishing protocols for how employees should communicate with each other and escalate issues if necessary.

For example, suppose an employee is not responding to messages on time. In that case, the reach-out strategy could involve sending additional messages through different channels (e.g., chat, email, phone) and only then escalating the issue to a superior if necessary.

10. Use secure communication tools

Using secure communication tools is fundamental for protecting an organization's sensitive data and ensuring the confidentiality of its remote work communications. Many secure remote work communication tools are available, each with unique features and capabilities.

One example of a secure communication and collaboration tool is Rocket.Chat. Rocket.Chat is an open-source platform for team collaboration and communication. It offers a range of features, including secure messaging, file sharing, and video and audio conferencing. In addition to its industry-grade security features, Rocket.Chat is highly customizable and can be tailored to an organization's distinctive needs.

Deploying secure remote work communication tools like Rocket.Chat can help protect an organization against data breaches and other security threats. By encrypting communications and implementing additional security measures, organizations can ensure that their sensitive customer and business data remains safe and confidential. This can help maintain the trust of customers and other stakeholders and avert potentially damaging security incidents.

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