“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”--George Bernard Shaw
Communication makes the world turn. Without healthy types of communication between every part of an organization, misinterpretations are quickly had, and assumptions are made. When every decision made by employees and owners influences a business, everybody needs to be working towards the same goal—something impossible to do if that goal isn’t clear. When dealing with remote workers, the dispersed team communication gap is even more important to close than in a traditional office, as remote workers have less opportunity to consult with managers and supervisors. To achieve organizational goals, and to build strong bonds between remote employees and the rest of the organization, businesses should strive to implement and master these 3 forms of communication.
1. One on One Communication.
Remote employees spend a great deal of their day alone, with their only interaction being business-oriented. If the only interaction throughout their day involves a message to the entire team, remote employees will begin to lose sight of what exactly they are contributing to the team’s goal. Additionally, remote employees will need more feedback than their in-office counterparts as they lack the context gained by observing their peers. When interacting on a one-to-one basis, remote employees have the opportunity to chat about everything—not just business. Speaking about personal topics (if the employee is comfortable) creates a foundation of trust and camaraderie in the individual and as a result, throughout the organization.
2. Company Level Communication
Company culture, whether it is defined or not, plays a huge role in how employees interact with customers. The strategies and ideas that emerge in the office should always find their way over to remote employees, whether by message or by physically bringing the employee to the office. If remote employees feel comfortable touching base with their ‘higher-ups’ they gain confidence in product knowledge and pass that knowledge on to consumers. Company level communication starts at the top, so the entire organization needs to find a way to connect with each other.
3. Intra-Team Communication
Perhaps the most vital of the three communication types mentioned here, intra-team communication means building bonds between employees. Remote employees don’t have the chance to chat around the water cooler or eat lunch together, and have very few avenues to have casual conversation with their co-workers unless a platform for that conversation is provided by the company. This platform might be training sessions that see remote employees brought in to physical offices together, or it may be as simple as setting up a chat room for employees to interact through. Building these bonds will help to create a team feeling throughout the organization and will promote cooperation between workers in the field, as well as competition.
Nobody likes to be left out of the loop, and that includes remote employees. If businesses hope to achieve the same results from remote employees as they do from traditional in-office workers, then they need to offer them the same experience their physical office counterparts get. ‘The Loop’ is just that—a loop of communication that starts from the top, and circulates throughout the entire organization, being shared between individuals and teams. By promoting the types of communication described above, businesses can ensure higher morale and performance throughout their organization.