Tenaka | Remote work

Effective communication with remote employees

July 8th, 2020 Posted by Bronwen Bartlett Design Thinking, The future, Employee Experience, coronavirus, family

Some companies have been introducing working from home for the last few years. However, nobody was quite prepared for the sudden need for widespread, global remote work. Even at Tenaka, where we’ve been partially remote for a long time, we didn’t fully anticipate the challenges of a fully remote team. As a result, you and your teams may have encountered some difficulties in communicating effectively. Many complain about “Zoom fatigue”, or interruptions that disrupt their work. How can you go about improving your communications to maximise efficiency and productivity, without sacrificing team relationships? Here are our top four tips.

1 – Set clear expectations

Remote work naturally lends itself to considerably more flexibility than in-office work. Employees can start and finish earlier or later. They can push to finish their work in just a few hours and have time off. This kind of flexibility can make it challenging to maintain clear lines of communication. That’s why it is critical to set clear expectations of your team. If you want everyone available during core hours, or want all employees to have email access from their mobile, ensure everyone understands the expectation. Open communication is key to a positive employee experience!

2 – Create a working structure

The flexibility we mentioned in the previous point also means you will need to create a clear structure for communications. This includes: scheduling meetings for certain, agreed-upon times; accountability for punctuality and participation in scheduled online events like video meetings; and clear communications guidelines. Other things to consider including are: 

  • instructions on document handling; 
  • protocols for the various communications platforms (email, video call, instant messages, etc); and 
  • record-keeping requirements (for example, recording meetings or making notes on your task management platform).

3 – Take guidance from your team

The thing about teams is that they are made up of people – and some of those people might have great ideas and solutions. They may also have concerns or requests that they want taken into consideration, based on their experience or unique circumstances. Really, this should be the very first step in your process – considering the humans in your team. There are many ways to do this, of course, but we suggest an employee survey. This way, everyone gets a chance to voice their thoughts, but the topic is kept focused. It’s also important to maintain open-door policies while working remotely. Let your humans know that their opinions matter and you will listen to them, just as you would in person.

4 – Provide the tools

There are, fortunately, plenty of tools available to make remote communications easy. It is, however, important to ensure these tools will suit everyone in your team, and that they have access to it. If the tools you select are only available as paid or licensed versions, it is your responsibility as employer to provide these, so choose your tools accordingly. Don’t overwhelm your team with too many apps and new software, however. Remember that the more lines of communication there are, the more easily they get tangled. The last thing you want is for information to get lost. Try to focus on platforms that offer all-in-one solutions, or that cover most of your communication needs in one place.

At Tenaka, we make lives better, bringing about positive change to customer and employee experience through human-centred design. Take a look at our new data-free platform that helps you keep in touch with employees – especially those whose data access may be limited. It’s fully customisable, so you can share relevant information easily and effectively.

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