The success of any team that works and is managed remotely depends on the correctly set communication of remote teams, on their rules and culture. Here are some tips to help you with remote communication.
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Synchronous vs. asynchronous communication
Remote teams should incorporate some degree of asynchronous communication. With asynchronous communication, you don’t expect immediate reactions and responses.
It can be said that the more asynchronous communication you perform, the better (e.g. even almost exclusively).
This “setup” takes into account that a team can work in different time zones, in different geographic locations, team members may have different daily schedules and regimes or holidays on different days. In such a team setup, it is difficult to expect immediate replies; we would be constantly waiting for answers, which is bad for the job.
In asynchronous mode, however, it is very important to set rules for the reaction time, e.g. 24/48 hours. These rules set expectations across the team and reduce pressure on team members.
What not to do in remote team communication
Avoid (the need for) a major dependency on e-mail
Especially in internal communication, as well as in remote mode, e-mail is not the most suitable medium. E-mail creates closed silos (several people sending communication to each other), follow-up communication is hard to read (if e-mails are sent back and forth), understanding the context of the message (by going through the history of the e-mail) consumes time.
Don’t be downright dependent on chat
The purpose of a chat should be fast, brief and instant communication (therefore IM or instant messaging). This goes against the principles of communication in remote mode, where it is necessary to expect frequent asynchronous communication. If a team member comes to the conversation after some time, an important message can be lost in history, buried by other messages on other topics that have come up over time.
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Avoid meetings without purpose
For example, there is often an attempt to replace previous team meetings in the office with virtual meetings. Employees strive to participate in them, regardless of their schedules, regimes or time zones. Their regimes are then disturbed. They are usually not needed at such a meeting and, quite often, the meeting itself is not needed.
What to do in remote team communication
Incorporate more (as much as possible) asynchronous communication
Give colleagues time to react, leave the decision on the timing of the response to the employees (within the set rules, see above). Asynchronous mode thus allows colleagues to focus on their work (e.g., they may be in deep work mode) and get to the reply at the right time for them, without the perceived pressure to respond immediately.
Promote transparency and availability of information
People should have access to information (this can be, for example, minutes of meetings, information about decisions, etc.), even if they did not actively participate in every meeting or decision-making. They can also respond to such information, which makes them feel that their voice is audible in the company.
Try to limit “noise” and “bustle” as much as possible
Do not include people who do not have to be in the communication, do not send unnecessary e-mails to those who do not have to be the addressees, limit unnecessary notifications or empty sentences. All this saves the team time and energy.
Have fun, allow socialization
Remote team communication is not just about work and work efficiency. We are people, we want to talk about our lives, get to know our colleagues’ other than professional side.
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Author of the article: Ing. Petr Macek
Author of the CAFLOU® application