7 Ways To Improve Team Communication While Working From Home
Remote working has been growing in popularity for the past few years, and the recent Coronavirus pandemic has seen thousands more workers set up office at home. While working from home offers many benefits such as increased flexibility and less commuting time, it also has its downsides.
One of the most significant issues that businesses and employees face when working from home is a lack of communication. It can leave you feeling disconnected and isolated from your team if you don’t take steps to improve communication. Here are seven ways you can sharpen your remote working skills and improve team communication.
Seven Ways To Improve Team Communication
1. Be Proactive With Communication
When you are working in the office, the chances are you see your team and colleagues almost every working day. This often means you take your usual communications for granted, and it will be a stark difference when you are working remotely. In order to keep communication in the team going, be proactive with getting in touch.
It can help to set up weekly calls and a group chat for ongoing conversation, which could be about work tasks or just a general catch up. By staying proactive, you will ensure that no one is feeling left in the dark or isolated from the team. Try to check in with all your team members first thing in the morning, just to open that gateway of communication which can continue throughout the working day.
2. Set Expectations Early On
You should never assume that your whole team are on the same page when it comes to working hours and when they should be available for communication. Outline what you expect from your team and when they should be contactable for conference calls and check-ins. It is also beneficial to encourage employees to try to work around their most productive hours as opposed to strict start and end times.
All team members should have working hours that work for them, as long as they are clearly communicating these with others. As well as working hours, you should also set expectations for projects and teamwork. Make sure your whole team are working towards the same goals and targets so that everyone can work properly together.
3. Introduce New Tools For Communication
When in the office, email might have been your main source of communication, but it isn’t your only option. There are loads of digital platforms available which make remote collaboration and communication very simple. Do some research into which tools and technologies could work well for your team, and then get everyone set up and running on them.
Look for tools that can allow you to share files, chat in real-time and arrange video conferences. Once you have selected an appropriate tool, be sure to communicate your expectations on how it is used to your team, so that everyone is on the same page.
4. Watch Your Tone
Body language, facial expressions and tone of voice all play vital roles in how you communicate and come across to others. When you are no longer communicating with people in person, your typed words can carry a lot more weight. Make sure you watch your tone and check how your emails and messages might come across to others.
It is important that your team feel respected, and this can be hard to read in an email. Balance all messages with some warmth and candid, clear messaging. There are online tools such as a Grammarly which have a tone checker and can suggest other ways to phrase your message to be more encouraging and positive.
5. Keep Office Culture Alive
Your office is much more than just a place that you and your team work from; it is also where you socialise. You talk about your weekends and everyday lives, and that shouldn’t have to stop just because you are all working from home. Try to schedule in some informal time within the working day to help keep social relationships and your usual office culture alive.
Arrange a virtual lunch or coffee morning once a week, or perhaps an after-work happy hour which will help employees stay connected with co-workers. Another option is virtual team-building events which are growing in popularity online, such as online cooking or virtual escape rooms.
6. Prioritise Video Calls
It can seem easier just to send an email or pick up the phone for a quick conversation with your team, but when you are working from home, you should prioritise video calls when you can. Remote working means you no longer have that face to face communication with the team, and a video chat is the next best thing.
You can get a better gauge on how everyone is doing and have a more meaningful conversation over video than a phone call. Just be sure to clearly include that it is a video chat when inviting colleagues so that they aren’t caught off guard.
7. Enhance Skills And Training
No matter the industry that you and your team work within, there is always more training and upskilling that can be done. Completing training courses and enhancing skills can be very beneficial to improving communication between teams, as everyone will be better placed to complete their tasks.
As a team leader or manager, project management training courses can be great for learning new skills on how to best manage your team.
Here at TSG Training, we offer a huge range of project management courses, including APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) E-Learning and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) E-Learning.
As well as a huge range of online and virtual training courses that can be completed while working from home, we also offer various free online webinars. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our BCS Programmes Webinar which talks you through the various BCS programmes that we have on offer. We offer lots of free webinars are a great way to get a taste of a training course before deciding if it is the right option for you.