Tips for Better Communication When Working Remotely

Even before the pandemic hit, more and more businesses were allowing remote work. At the beginning of 2020, in the United States, seven million people were already working remotely. This number has grown by 44 percent in the past five years. But then COVID-19 hit, and a Gartner survey revealed that 88% of organizations worldwide encouraged or required employees to work from home due to the pandemic.

Many teams have had to make the adjustment to working remotely. These employees, in particular, have had to find ways to be communicative with the rest of their team while working remotely. But no matter what your situation is–whether you are currently employed or seeking new job opportunities–you would undoubtedly benefit from learning a few tips for better communication while working remotely.

1. Make an effort to stay connected.

There are a lot of times passive connections can happen in an office: at the water cooler, while out to lunch with a colleague, or in in-person meetings. It can be difficult to have this same sense of camaraderie when working remotely. If you are using a tool like Slack, create a channel where your team can chat with each other about random things or celebrate each other’s victories. If you are an employee, make more of an effort to stay connected with the rest of your team, whether that’s chatting regularly with them on Slack or Microsoft Teams or writing simple thank you emails acknowledging the hard work the rest of your team is doing.

2. Use scheduling, chat, and collaboration tools.

There are a ton of tools that will help you to organize your work: who is doing what, what steps need to be taken in a particular project, when something needs to happen, etc. You could use a tool like Trello or Asana to manage projects. Google Drive or Dropbox are good tools for collaboration. And Slack and Microsoft Teams are great tools for chatting and staying connected. There are many different options. You want to make sure you do your research, read about others’ experiences with these tools before you try them. And you may have to try several different tools before you find the system that is going to work for you and your team.

3. Make the most of the fewer conversations you have.

There are a lot more opportunities to converse with your coworkers in the office. Perhaps you make a comment that isn’t entirely clear in a meeting, but then a conversation in the hallway provides much more clarity. When working remotely, you will have fewer conversations so you need to make sure you are being as clear as possible any time you do speak to your coworkers. You also want to be aware of your tone and punctuation. Communications can often be misinterpreted when you are using email or online chat so you want to really be conscious of how you are coming across.

4. Meet up in real life when possible.

Many remote teams will meet up at least once or twice a year for retreats and company events. This can provide some bonding time where employees can really connect with one another. Although the pandemic has put a halt to such gatherings–especially where travel is required–if the team is local, try having socially distant outdoor gatherings for the time being. 

These are just a few tips that will help you to communicate more effectively while working remotely. It’s important to be patient and remember that working remotely takes practice. It may take you or your team a while to fully adjust, but if you put in some effort, you can be just as effective remotely as you would be in the office.