More and more companies are hiring remote workers and there are a great number of benefits for doing so. First off, it expands the pool of qualified workers exponentially. It also allows companies to reduce overhead costs and to increase their global reach and impact. However, this is not without its limitations. Namely, communication can suffer.
Until recently it was estimated that up to 25% of employees will work remotely to some extent. However, this number has risen greatly over the past few months with the global pandemic as many companies are requiring non-essential employees to stay at home. This means that managers are spending more and more time trying to touch base with their employees for updates, documents, or questions.
Not only can this be incredibly time consuming but it’s also frustrating. No one wants to send the same message through email, text, and messenger apps when they are just looking for a quick response. Leadership can suffer because they are focusing more on tracking down their employees than they are on leading.
So how can managers solve this communication problem? The first step should be to try and identify a primary source of communication that employees are expected to use. The expectations should also be clearly laid out regarding when individuals are expected to be on this platform and the amount of time in which they need to reply.
Before choosing the specific platform that employees should use, speak to them about what they are currently using and what their preferences are. You might assume that everyone prefers communicating through Google G Suite, but discover that when it comes to working the majority of employees prefer to keep things separate for example on Slack.
Whatever communication platform you choose you should make sure that it has all of the capabilities that your day-to-day activities require. For example, it is efficient for file sharing, saving messages, video conferencing, and group chats. Especially when your team is remote having face-to-face meetings and check-ins can be invaluable. This helps people stay accountable and feel the ever-important camaraderie with their team members – even if they are remote.
In a fast-paced business world communication is key. As we have seen recently remote work is going to become a more and more normal business procedure. As such it is important to make sure that the appropriate processes are in place to reduce any miscommunication that can slow down or otherwise disrupt work.
One final word of caution: In a remote business environment it can be easy for employees to feel like they always have to be online and responding. This can quickly lead to burnout. This is why expectations are so important. Make sure your employees know when they should be online but also ensure they know that they need to take time away from work as well.