As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, establishments and businesses were forced to adapt to an online work setting. With that, many adjustments had to be made logistically in order to maintain a healthy remote workplace, and one crucial modification was each company’s overall work system.
With everything becoming adapting to the work-from-home lifestyle, the lack of seeing each other face-to-face meant that there was a high risk of messages getting lost in translation. Communication with one another has become an important part of maintaining a healthy workplace (and life, in general) especially in this lockdown.
If you are managing a team, you might be wondering where to start. How do you make sure your team is effectively communicating and that you’re effectively communicating with them as well? With that, here are 10 tips you might find helpful in leading your remote team and building a healthy remote workplace!
1. Set expectations at the very beginning.
Expectations aren’t just for your members to set—they’re for leaders, too. With all the abnormal things happening in the world right now, everyone is likely to still be adjusting to the changes. This is why it’s best to be transparent at the beginning and tell your members what you expect of them, while they also present what they are expecting of you. This could possibly be presented in a general assembly or seminar with the whole team at the beginning of a new project or collaboration, just so that everyone can get on the same page.
2. Tell your members where, when, and how they can reach you.
It has become normalized for people to occasionally become unresponsive on communication platforms during the lockdown. There are many reasons that could cause this, like a slump in mental health or something going on at home, but as a leader of a team, being available to everyone is important to maintain a clear line of communication. This does not mean being free 24/7, but this means clearly establishing the boundaries between you and your members.
As the leader, saying that you can be reached on specific platforms at specific times will help their members plan and note down how to contact you about concerns. Being an approachable leader helps break the ice with members as well, and will lessen their anxiety when needing to contact them.
3. Maintain office hours
As mentioned, a leader does not have to be available 24/7, and likewise, the members don’t need to be, either. Maintaining work boundaries in this sense will help everyone keep a sense of division in their lives as they work at home. If work hours are over, avoid trying to contact someone for something that needs to be done as soon as possible. It is better to save it for the next day so that everyone can get sufficient hours of rest.
4. Return calls
In case someone gets a phone call that cannot be attended to at the moment, be sure to call right back when free. The message might have been so important that it had to be made in a call, and thus it’s common courtesy to return it.
5. Acknowledge messages and emails
If a message isn’t sent in a call, it’ll most likely be sent over private & group messages or emails instead. With that, it is important to respond to each one accordingly. Even if it’s just an acknowledgement message, it’ll help the person on the other end know that their concern was read over and noted down. Responding promptly will also prevent the sender from having anxiety that the message was not received.
6. Customize a workspace communication system
With all the online communication platforms available, many have the capability to customize different text and voice channels for different purposes. Some examples of these platforms include Discord, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more. Building it in accordance with the needs of the team will surely help everyone stay organized and responsive.
7. Create a system wherein members can actively update their progress
Along with customizing a communication system comes the need to have a space wherein members can actively update their progress. This could possibly be done through a daily checkout report on a text channel, wherein members send a list of their accomplishments for the day.
On a broader scale, weekly video call meetings can also be held to get updates on company-wide projects and their status. Having these video calls will likely give workers a sense of normalcy from hearing other people’s voices and seeing their faces.
8. Solve issues over call
If ever conflict arises with a member, it’s best to talk about it over a voice or video call than just converse and deal with it over a private message. Handling it as directly as possible will allow for a more transparent discourse so that all parties can understand the situation at hand. With being able to speak about it personally, details won’t get lost in translation.
9. Take time to check on everyone’s home situation
Since everyone has a different situation at home amidst the lockdown, it’s best for you to check on their members from time to time. This can be through a simple message, telling them that they have your full support and that they are allowed to take a breather if they need to. Making sure to promote a sense of empathy towards the team will allow them to know that they are in good hands with a leader who cares about their well-being.
10. Dedicate time to having one-on-one check-ins
Having individual consultations with team members can allow them to air out their thoughts, concerns, or even just have a simple chat with you. It’s preferred that these happen over call so that the conversation can flow naturally. Most importantly, these check-ins will let the team leaders make a substantial connection with their employees. Letting a team know that you care about them will help build a more positive morale in the workplace.