Good communication is essential for any successful business. If your business has employees who work remotely, either at home or in multiple locations, exceptional communication practices must be in place.
Here at The Business Therapist®, we have team members spread across 3 countries, 4 locations and several time zones – all with varying schedules and life demands, such as school and family.
Communication can be a challenge! Over time and through trial and error, we’ve established systems to help us be in constant communication, regardless of our locales.
Here are some tips from our team to yours to help improve communication with your off-site employees.
Ensure your remote workers are equipped with the tools necessary for great online communication: good internet and speedy devices. Invest the quarter to make a dollar.
Require each team member to send an email each week to everyone, outlining their top 3 priorities. Although general in nature, the brief outline of actions lets everyone know what everyone else is working on for the week.
Schedule a weekly ‘face to face’ meeting for all team members via Google Hangouts or Skype. Be sure to let all the team members know the topic and agenda beforehand to make it a focused and efficient meeting.
Make collaborating on projects/documents easy. We use Google Drive for document storage and as a place to collaborate in real time. New documents, comments and edits are easily shared with the relevant team members.
Use project management software to detail all the actions, to-dos and timelines of any given project (ex: Basecamp, Trello, WeekDone). The documented plan of action should be reviewed and updated regularly by the appropriate employees.
While a benefit of a flexible work environment is, well, flexibility, it’s important to know when co-workers are available to answer a quick question or have a fast chat. Use an online calendar to show availability. For our team, we use Google Calendar via G Suite from Google Cloud – so we can see if team members are online right from our email. It’s pretty handy!
Working away from the rest of the team combined with regular life demands can be isolating – there’s no “water-cooler” or break room for your remote employees to know their co-workers as “people”. If possible, try to meet up in person regularly and if not schedule a social online happy hour via Google Hangouts or Skype.
It’s likely that your remote employees excel at working independently, but be aware to not let them become “out of site, out of mind”. As a business owner, make a point to regularly check in with your remote employees. Give kudos, offer your support and encourage open communication about any struggles they might be experiencing.
A remote workforce has become the new normal in businesses of all types, and the benefits are numerous for all involved, but to make the most of this flexible work environment, excellent communication is key. If you’d like more information on this relatively new phenomenon, check out this book – Remote: Office Not Required
If you’re looking for a little bit more information about virtual team software solutions, check out this article.
Do you have any advice for improving communication with your mobile team? If so, please leave a comment below, or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org