The Pandemic has redefined a typical workplace setup. Until 2020, one would think of joining a company close to their place of residence so that they could cut down on travel time. Post-2020, distance is no longer an issue. Remote working is now the in-thing, giving way to a global workplace setup.
Remote working brings a variety of cons along with numerous pros. Yes, the workplace is now your living room or study. In other words, working from home has become the norm.
This model has changed the way managers communicate with their teams, manage work, and deliver results. However, to make remote working possible, one must rely on good communication tools that ensure that distant teams can collaborate effectively to achieve the task at hand.
Companies need to adapt to this style of working. Railsware company is an example of a global company that has started work remotely even before COVID and polished the communication flows during the last year.
Problems with Remote Communication
Communication is all about expressing oneself to the people around. It involves oral communication along with body language. Most often, body language plays a crucial role in understanding the mood and tone of the person communicating.
With remote communication, this element of visual expression is minimal. Challenges in remote communications include:
- Tracking a remote employee’s presence: Unlike in a traditional office setup, one cannot track the presence of an employee at all times. If you need to call for an urgent meeting, it is not feasible when working remotely. One must always plan to schedule an appointment and cannot reach quickly.
- Communication is often asynchronous: The team members may communicate asynchronously. There is no guarantee that the person is present on the other side when you send them instructions or messages.
- Team building activities are often difficult: In a remote setup, it is challenging to think of activities that can be done as a remote team. It is equally challenging to keep the team motivated without any team-building activities. Therefore, it is essential to have a dedicated team of people who can think of innovative ways to bring the team together remotely.
- Tracking the teams’ daily tasks is laborious: Unless you have an effective tool and a set process for communicating with your team, it is tough to keep track of the work done by each team member. The manager has to schedule regular one-to-one calls with each team member to understand their work and daily task status.
- Tracking vacation data is challenging: This is another primary task for the manager. Since there is the flexibility of time and lack of employee visibility, it is not easy to track who is on vacation. Therefore, it is crucial to plan and put a process to keep track of the vacation plan for all the employees.
- File sharing issues: A robust file-sharing system is required to ensure that files are not mishandled. The entire team should access files securely and keep files at a central location for easy tracking.
Mitigating Remote Communication Issues
As stated above, there are many challenges when working remotely as a team. However, they are all manageable and can be easily overcome with the present technology advancements.
- Video conferencing: Technology has advanced to the effect that one can remain at one place and communicate with others virtually in real-time using visual communication. This interaction is possible using the video conferencing facility. Through this form of communication, one can overcome the lack of visibility. Vital messages can be conveyed in person using video calling wherein the correlation between a person’s speech and body language can be noted similar to that of physical communication.
- File sharing options: Modern applications resolve the issue of file sharing. Applications such as Google Drive, Dropbox, SharePoint, etc., help remote teams to collaborate efficiently. Files can be stored in a central location and can be edited by multiple people simultaneously.
- Resource management applications: These applications help in team management activities such as understanding work allocation, vacations, and resource availability, to name a few. Some project management tools also allow managers to schedule meetings after checking the teams’ availability. These tools are essential in managing remote teams effectively.
Tools Helpful in Remote Communication
“Necessity is the mother of invention” says the adage. As remote working and the need for hiring the best talent from across geographies became necessary, the need for tools to overcome geographical barriers also became a requirement.
This need has brought many new tools that incorporate the latest technology to make remote communications a breeze. Let us look at some of these tools that help make remote communications seamless:
- Video conferencing tools: There are many tools available for video conferencing, such as Zoom, a web-based video conferencing tool that allows even large teams to collaborate effortlessly. It is free to use for meetings up to 45 mins, but longer conferences and other specialized features are available only in the paid version. Zoom provides the facility to record the video session, share screens, and a chat facility for the participants. The video and audio quality with Zoom is ideal for distributed team communication. Similar to Zoom are other tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.
- Collaborative communication tools: These are asynchronous messaging applications such as Slack, Skype, and Microsoft Messenger. They help team members chat with each other across geographies. Email clients have many of these applications integrated. This integration makes it possible to instantly call a person without ever leaving your email that you want to discuss. These applications also provide file-sharing options and allow groups and channels to be created for streamlined communication.
- Project management tools: Basecamp v3, Trello, Asan, and Jira are popular project management tools. These tools are helpful for resource allocations, task management, document management, and tracking project milestones.
- File sharing and file transfer tools: The best examples of file-sharing resources are Google Drive and Dropbox. These tools manage access to files by multiple users and facilitate version management as well.
- Resource management tools: Tools such as Scoro, Float, Runn, Forecast, and Teamdeck help with team management tasks such as efficient resource allocation, task monitoring, resource utilization, and project costing.
Remote work is the new normal that is here to stay. As the world adopts and adapts itself to this work culture, use new and constantly evolving technology to overcome the hurdles and roadblocks that come along the way.