One of the biggest hurdles to overcome while working remotely – or working somewhere other than your office – is the communication barrier.
Office-based teams have routine brainstorming sessions, morning briefs, and team meetings. If you have a quick question you need to be answered, you can simply pop over to your colleague’s desk and ask them.
None of this happens with remote work. Not organically, at least. Here at monday.com, we’ve made a concerted effort to stay in touch.
This means carefully scheduling meetings, even those whiteboard brainstorming sessions that are usually unplanned – without overwhelming each other with video chats. It means carefully scheduling “space” and family time. And it means thinking strategically about how best to communicate with each other.
Fortunately, technology has come a long way in a short period of time. Today, it’s easy to stay connected with your remote teams. We scoured the internet for some clarity about remote communication to help us and you understand what remote communication means and some best practices.
What’s the definition of remote communication?
The definition of remote communication: It’s a means of communicating at a distance via electronic tools that let you correspond with people outside of face-to-face communication. It’s also referred to as virtual communication, and it’s become a quintessential part of the business world.
Remote communication isn’t new, and it certainly isn’t limited to virtual teams. You’ve been doing it for years. It includes things like:
- Telephone calls
- Video conferencing
- Online chats
- Work operating systems
Let’s take a closer look.
Virtual communication tools
Virtual communication drives collaboration in the remote and physical workplace.
Think about how frequently you use email or a chat tool to communicate with members from a different department. You might even send a message to the person directly across from you. Virtual communication tools are also used to keep in-house teams connected with virtual teams and external collaborators.
In fact, we’ve been using virtual communication tools in the workplace long before remote work became trendy. Conference calls used to be the go-to way to communicate with dispersed teams. Thanks to advancements in technology, team members are able to stay connected through video chat and instant messaging services. These tools have been invaluable in helping distributed teams, remote workers, and in-office teams stay up to date in real-time.
What are some reliable virtual communication tools?
- Zoom: Zoom supports audio chat (VoIP), video chat, and conferencing. It integrates with many popular collaborative tools, supports a wide range of plugins, and even lets you record and save meetings to the cloud or on a local drive.
- Slack: Slack is a work-oriented chat platform that lets you connect with everyone within your organization, as well as external collaborators, so you have an open channel of communication to relevant parties at all times.
- Microsoft Teams: MS Teams is another popular communication tool. It offers a mixture of both Slack and Zoom. You can use it to schedule appointments, share files, send messages, and for video conferencing. It’s really versatile, and great for teams that are already using other MS platforms like Outlook and OneNote.
- CloudTalk IVR: CloudTalk is cloud-based remote-ready software that empowers your sales and support teams.CloudTalk has interesting features like automated call distribution, dialer, callback option, and IVR.
Ultimately, to get the best results, you need to know how to use your tools effectively. Read on to see how you can broaden your virtual communication skills.
Remote communication vs. face-to-face communication
Year after year, remote work continues to rise in popularity around the world. In fact, a survey by Gallup found that 43% of Americans have worked remotely at some point or another, and by 2028, nearly 75% of employers are expected to include remote workers on their teams.
It’s a good shift: Not only does virtual communication technology make it easier to stay in touch, studies show that workers can increase output by as much as 4.4% after transitioning to remote work.
While the benefits of remote work have been well documented, some managers prefer face-to-face communication over virtual correspondence. There are a number of reasons for this. Some people don’t feel like going back and forth over text, while others are simply used to in-person communication and have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset.
Advantages and disadvantages of virtual communication
There are plenty of benefits associated with virtual communication:
- Improved flexibility: Virtual communication tools make it easy for teams to communicate across time zones. Thanks to messenger services, you don’t have to wait for a team member on the other side of the world to become available in order to send them important information.
- Convenience: You don’t have to go through the hassle of finding a meeting location when you correspond via remote communication. People can communicate from anywhere using their computer or mobile device (and internet access), which makes it easy to hold impromptu meetings. There are even apps to record video chats, so people unable to attend can also see what was covered in the meetings.
- Easy to stay connected: Connecting with a teammate, supervisor, or external collaborator has never been easier. When you need to ask a quick question or send a document to a colleague, you can connect with them with a click of a button.
Of course remote communication does also have its disadvantages, such as:
- Difficulty staying in touch: One of the biggest drawbacks of remote communication comes down to human error. Unless teams stay in constant communication through routine meetings and check-ins, workers can drift apart and productivity starts to suffer.
- More distractions: Remote communication tools can be very distracting. Constantly being bombarded with company emails and chat groups can have a negative impact on productivity.
- Technical difficulties: Remote communication is dependent on technology. A hardware malfunction or service outage could sever the lines of communication for an extended period of time.
5 remote communication skills
Just using virtual communication tools isn’t enough to ensure effective collaboration. You also need to know how to use those tools effectively.
Here are some tips to help you enhance remote communication:
- Be clear with instructions and your intentions, and leave no explanation up to interpretation.
- Be mindful of the tone of your emails and text messages. Without nonverbal cues, your colleagues could read your text messages through an unintentionally negative lens.
- Stay in touch with your teammates and collaborators. Avoid extended periods of silence by touching base with your colleagues periodically.
- Don’t hold the same conversation across multiple platforms. Establish a common channel of communication and stick to it. Don’t have a conversation from a task management platform filter over into emails and text messaging. It makes it difficult to keep track of everything going on.
- Minimize messages after hours and over the weekend whenever possible. If you work with people in different time zones, check their time zone before sending a message so you don’t contact them in the middle of the night.
By sticking to the advice above, you can create a workplace culture that prioritizes good remote communication.
Remote team communication challenges
The biggest challenge with remote team communication is that teams tend to simply replicate their usual way of working in an office – but this often backfires, resulting in a constant stream of Slack messages and Zoom messages. Endless sync meetings become endless pings on your various remote team communication platforms.
It’s far more important to establish good workflows – making sure that your teams’ work is organized, transparent and efficient. Ask yourselves – when should we video conference? How should we communicate with each other? What are the routines that are important to us?
Here at monday.com, we’ve focused on keeping our calendars up-to-date and making sure we keep our weekly and daily routines – no matter if we’re virtual or not.
Excel at virtual communication in the workplace
If you really want to encourage strong virtual communication amongst your remote team, consider using a Work OS like monday.com, an all-in-one platform that makes collaboration and virtual communication easier than ever before.
You can use it to create and assign tasks, monitor progress, upload important documents to a centralized database everyone with permission can access, and correspond with team members via built-in communication tools.
Plus: monday.com seamlessly integrates with most popular business tools. Get started today and see firsthand why monday.com is the platform for remote communication and collaboration.