“Hey, do you have a minute?” It takes seconds in an office setting to communicate with your coworkers, employees, and managers and minimal effort. Virtually, it can take anywhere from minutes up to days to get answers from colleagues. How can you, a newly remote worker, manage the communication medium switch?

Agency owners are experiencing a ‘baptism by fire’ in regards to a remote workforce during the current pandemic restrictions. We’ve compiled communication guidelines for employees to help with the immediate transition to working from home (WFH).

Clear Communication is Key

Misunderstanding based on text communication among team members can lead to unhealthy work environments, and decrease in morale and productivity. As a newly remote employee it is your responsibility to set standards and methods for yourself to effectively navigate working remotely with your team.

The following six steps will help you establish healthy and productive remote communication:

  1. Identify the system
    Different situations require different methods of communication. For example a quick question to a teammate should use a fast messaging system like a direct message or Slack so the response rate is fast. On the other hand, if you are asking a series of questions it would be faster to request a 5-10 minute call on a software like Zoom so you can share your screen if you need to. Similarly, if you are handing off documents to teammates or managers, an email with the documents and an explanation meeting is the best route.
  2. Use clear intentional language
    93% of communication is non verbal, it is no wonder that miscommunications are most often centred around messages rather than face to face conversations. When we as humans do not have emotion to attach to a message we assume and inflect our own. This can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. A good rule to follow is, if you think your teammate misunderstood a message you sent, give them a call instead of trying to correct them over direct messaging.
  3. Set expectations for response times
    By setting expectations with your team about your response time on different mediums you are being transparent. This helps you interact with your team more effectively as you and your colleagues are held to certain accountability standards. Further, by setting response times, coworkers can follow up with you without feeling that they are bothering you and vice versa. Some suggested response times are 1 hour for slack messages and 1 day for emails.
  4. Ask for one-on-one time with your manager
    A necessary part of effective virtual communication is setting achievable goals with your manager and keeping them updated on your progress. Clear communication provides your manager with confidence in your work and minimizes micromanaging tendencies. One-on-one 10 minute meetings with your manager once a day help recap and manage expectations.
  5. Make time for “virtual water cooler chit chat”
    At the office you are constantly surrounded by your colleagues. Chatting with them and having office banter. This relationship and team building can be completely lost when working remote. In office, this type of communication takes little effort and creates a large reward by building and developing co-working relationships and morale. However, on a virtual team, it requires much more effort and is a slower build. Despite the extra effort needed, it is still critical to successfully build a team and maintain a culture that works well together. We suggest scheduling time with different team members for a 15 minute coffee break, or having a slack channel dedicated to office jokes.

Find your Stride

Each team and workplace is different. Some tools will be more effective than others based on how the company operates. The key is to implement these strategies and tweek them to fit you. Finding your feet when working remotely is similar to starting a new job, there are new tools, questions feel tedious to ask, and you do not have the best communication with your teammates. However, just as you would in a new job, you settle in and become comfortable with the systems in place to manage your communication. 

As seen by the media coverage, in office work will not return as soon as was originally predicted. Instead, adjustments to society as a whole have to be made to accommodate this new normal. As we all adjust, staying connected with your team will be fundamental to success. 

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