Communication is key. We have all heard this saying. This holds true especially when working remotely. With remote staffing on the rise, the demand for cheap yet highly skilled labor is even greater in the Western markets today.
However, working in virtual spaces, especially across cultures, can get confusing. Communication, when all stakeholders of an organization are not physically proximate, becomes a barrier that can get hard to overcome.
With a little help from professional advice, meticulously gathered and neatly presented through our blogs, you will have your business up and running in no time.
Let us now take a look at 5 ways in which you can resolve the communication gap within your organization for its assured success.
- Common Communication Tools
Gone are the days of staying connected through emailing in the workplace. Not only has it become increasingly cumbersome to note every small detail to ensure that the workflow is not disrupted, but it is also not preferred today, in lieu of rising tools that help emulate a physical workspace culture. Ensuring that all your remote employees use the same communication tools or apps for conducting official business is essential.
This helps address cross-cultural gaps by minimizing texting and letting one substitute it by the features of the app if they so wish. The same also helps in erasing confusion among intra-cultural employees. For instance, if your remote team uses Microsoft Teams, then they can use the ‘Status’ feature to display their real-time availability. This would help bridge any communication gap which could have arisen otherwise in the remote work setting.
- Project Management Systems
The issue of maintaining transparency gets exacerbated when work shifts from the bounds of physical to remote spaces. Without any accountability or checks and balances in place, unmonitored time can wreak havoc on businesses. Ensuring that all stakeholders involved in a work project are well coordinated among themselves and working to achieve the same end goal is imperative. To that end, remote employers can employ online project management systems or tools like Asana, etc., to monitor real-time workflows of remote employees.
As it is not very time-efficient to call up every project member to ask for updates every now and then, neither is it very convenient, using collaborative tools like this can be a saving grace. Not only does it help with reporting to regular scrum meetings where updates on projects are discussed, but it also helps break down larger projects into smaller, easier to understand, parts. This helps to make the workflow more interactive by letting employees raise questions, comment on tasks, add or erase assignments, etc.
- Video Conferencing Rituals
Body language goes a long way in getting the message across. According to sociologists, it is one of the most crucial forms of non-verbal communication. Therefore, in remote work scenarios where you don’t have the option to talk to your employees face to face, messages may get misinterpreted. Audio calls are not a sustainable alternative as you are still not able to view the person on the other end of your work device.
Video calls not only help in the effective delivery of messages in a time-efficient manner, but they also help foster feelings of camaraderie. By helping battle emotions of isolation, which is one of the most reported byproducts of virtual workspaces, it ultimately improves workspace productivity. Including video chats through team meeting invites would ensure people stay on camera while also giving them enough time and notice to be ready for it.
- Tone of Voice
One must remember that when it comes to texting, whether for personal or professional needs, they should be mindful of the words they choose. This is because, as discussed in the preceding point, people engaged in a remote work scenario are unable to see or, in this case, even listen to, one another. This could give rise to unnecessary workplace tension that would disturb the equilibrium of the organization.
In many situations, people report that even after being mindful of their choice of words, they have upset others- that is a part and parcel of communication, in general. But it has its own remedy in the digital world. In order to avoid this, one can subscribe to a host of tools, like Grammarly, that not only checks the grammar and spellings of a text but, in a recently introduced feature, also looks at its tone of voice.
- Office Culture Reinforcement
Last but not least, it is important to make your remote employees feel like a part of your office family, just the same! In a virtual work set up, there is no place for informal, but bond-building, activities like coffee chats, cigarette breaks, walking up to a co-worker’s desk, etc., among employees. In such a scenario, negative feelings of alienation can arise harming the remote worker’s mental, as well as the organization’s business, health.
To avoid this, it is necessary to organize and encourage others to online team-building activities. Be it through conducting multi-player gaming sessions, or online jam sessions, or just informal video conferencing dedicated solely to the purpose of catching up with one another, it is imperative that it is done. These should not be received as a wastage, rather, an investment of time.
The organizational work structure that was bolstered because of the social distancing protocol put in place to help check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken over to be the norm of the day. Do not let communication be the barrier, in this age of advanced technology, for you to reap its innumerable benefits.