Remote work has become a standard, especially in the technology industry. There are a lot of benefits coming from it, like a flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere or not having to commute, and using the saved hours to spend with family. But at the same time, we are still learning how to work remotely and be efficient, keep our work-life balance and also find a way to connect with our team members.
As Buffer's research shows: "When asked about the primary change to their work now that they work remotely, 41 percent indicated that their collaboration and communication had changed the most. "
Sounds like something you need to face too?
Whether you are working in a remote environment or leading such a team - you are in the right place! Together with managers from Tidio, we share the best tips and advice we use daily that will help you better communicate with your remote coworkers.
Create the opportunities
No doubt -
It's much easier to build a bond with people in the office - while standing in the queue for the coffee machine, having lunch together in the kitchen, or even joining a spontaneous integration party on Friday afternoon.
Doing it online is much harder but not impossible! And the game is worth a candle!
Kamil Kopaczyk (Head of Infrastructure) points out: "create some space for interactions that would happen spontaneously if you sat in one room together. It's crucial, especially if you expect new team members to join your team and want to feel them welcome from the very first day."
How to do it? Save a few minutes in a team meeting for a short introduction for a new employee. Prepare a quick online game such as the Wheel of Fortune with questions to help coworkers get to know each other better.
In People&Culture Team, we have a 30 min placeholder in our calendars for casual online coffee on Friday mornings. It's a great chance to talk about what happened during the week, share everyday struggles, or show off the recipe for the best vegan ramen.
Don't forget about small talk
I know what you're thinking: small talk is a waste of time.
But the truth is that there is no better way to maintain the relationships than to put small talk into the meeting agenda. Ten minutes for a casual conversation is a game changer in creating an atmosphere of being a team and destressing before jumping into serious topics.
If you feel your team is not into spontaneous small talk, there is a bunch of icebreakers you can easily find on the Internet (type "icebreakers ideas" in Google and try not to drown in the sea of games and activities!) that will help you with that. You can always do it old-fashioned by asking: How is your day or week going? But it's always good to have something in store in case of awkward silence. ;)
Use online integration options
OK - time to bring out the big guns!
Online integrations can be as fun as offline ones.
In the beginning, you can feel a little odd, but after a while, the team gets used to it and starts seeing online integrations as a natural way of celebrating time spent together.
With the rise of the popularity of remote work, more and more event companies have started offering online games and activities for remote team building: Virtual Escape Rooms, Zoom Trivia Night, Online Charades, Bingo, Pictionary, and even online museum tour - the sky is the limit!
At the beginning of the pandemic, we did a wine tasting online - we ordered small wine bottles for each employee's home and then spent some time together, discovering flavors and aromas.
💡 Pro tip: To make it work, all participants should be remote and divided into smaller group - we usually recommend up to 6-8 people.
Rely on straightforward communication
You may think rumors are created only in the office hall, but nothing could be further from the truth. Online communication flow is at the same pace, and your role is to clean up the mess as soon as possible or, better - not let rumors even appear.
Better said than done, right?
As Radek Hryciów, our Engineering Manager says: "The golden rule is - always communicate changes/ideas/responsibilities at the right time to the right people. Sometimes it's better to share the information sooner, even if you don't have 100% of the data (and admit that you will provide missing details soon), rather than let the false information spread and create some misunderstanding."
Learn how to prioritize your own and your team's calendar
At Tidio, one of our core values is to focus on impact, which sometimes means skipping meetings that are not crucial for delivering our goals.
What does this mean for you?
Before adding another Zoom call to your team's calendar, think twice if it's vital.
Andrzej Jagielski (Head of Design) goes even further, saying: "If you wonder if the meeting is necessary, then most probably is not - remote should be mainly async, not 100% zoom."
The best option is to divide the topics you want to address with your team into different communication channels:
- Use a dedicated team slack channel to communicate with coworkers about project updates or basic team-related information.
- If the idea is difficult to explain in writing, record a short video and share it with others.
- For brainstorming sessions or retro, use Zoom calls to activate all participants and boost creativity.
- Do you want to show your team the crucial changes that will influence their work? Having a call is the best option, as it allows you to address all questions and doubts.
Don't be afraid to over-communicate
I know, I know…
Overcommunicating may sound counterintuitive—after all, if you’ve delivered the message, why are you wasting time repeating yourself?
But trust me:
Overcommunication, done well, is a tremendous help in preventing misunderstandings and making sure everyone is on the same page.
Start from recognizing when and where over-communication is most useful. Set up workflows in Slack to encourage sharing the results. Summarize the meetings to ensure you are all on the same page. Put in your team calendar recurrent calls where you can talk about challenges, help each other, or decide the next step toward your goals.
Having these regular catch-ups are crucial in creating bonds and, at the same time, allowing solving problems when the team is stuck.
Don’t forget about 1:1s with your team members
How about one-on-ones? Do you put them on your priority list?
You definitely should! One-on-ones are a tool to keep your team members engaged and build trust. Let me share a few sentences from our Leaders' Playbook that describe why one-on-ones are crucial in building rapport and improving communication:
"One-on-ones are our must-do meetings, our best opportunity to listen to the people from our team and understand their perspective on what is working and what is not working in terms of their job, the team, or company. It's also an opportunity to know our reports and shows that we care about them personally.
The purpose of the 1:1 is to listen, clarify and understand each person's direction in the project and their personal development, seeing what is blocking them and helping them overcome it. It's also a place to give and receive feedback."
And this is what we believe in. Period.
I hope these tips will help you make communication with your team even better.
Want to dive a little bit deeper into this topic? Olek Potrykus (Head of Customer Support) recommends the book: Read This Before Our Next Meeting: Al Pittampalli as a perfect guide on how to make meetings more effective, efficient, and worthy of attending. The book also helps you assess when it’s necessary to skip the meeting and get right to work. Happy reading!
And don't forget to let us know which advice resonates with you the most! Waiting for your comment on our Social Media.
Huge kudos to Andrzej Jagielski, Olek Potrykus, Radek Hryciów and Kamil Kopaczyk for sharing tips and helping in creating this article.