Leadership and Management
Onboarding, Communication, and Outcomes: Setting Expectations for Remote Teams (Part II)

Onboarding, Communication, and Outcomes: Setting Expectations for Remote Teams (Part II)

by Jesus Lopez   |   February 1, 2017   |     3 min read
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Part II: Communication

In any discussion pertaining to working with remote teams, you will find some mention of the importance of communication. This is because this aspect of working with remote workers is not to be underestimated. The great potential could crumble with bad communication. When it comes to setting expectations for remote employees, the ability to articulate and establish clear objectives hinges upon an open line of communication.

In Part I, we discussed the importance of new hire onboarding as a foundation for setting expectations and responsibilities. So what does communication mean in the context of remote teams and employees?

Anybody who has ever worked at home will tell you that it was an adjustment, that it takes discipline, and that without the proper precautions —common communication and interaction— it is quite easy to start down the path of low productivity and uninspired work. From the employer’s side, this means that a consistent and conscious approach to maintaining communication open is not only effective but necessary.

Strategize Your Communication

Approach communication with your remote teams in a strategic way, understanding the different functions it could have within the organized structure of the company.

Generally, within a regular business week, you might find that different types of communication become necessary. Each of these serves to accomplish different objectives or goals.

  • Time-sensitive communication:  These are discussions pertaining to upcoming project deadlines, necessary revisions, feedback, and anything that needs to be addressed quickly. Having a way to differentiate time-sensitive inquiries from others is important in keeping priorities lined up.
  • Ongoing communication: This can be characterized as an ongoing conversation that happens perhaps via email or messages that is not time-sensitive, but discusses projects, new ideas, maybe brainstorming, or serves as a way to bounce ideas back and forth. This is a conversation that is a constant back and forth and is replied at people’s convenience without disturbing workflow or serving as a distraction.
  • Organized communication: This refers to an organized meeting or chat, where two or more workers synchronize a time to talk and have a specific objective or problem that needs to be addressed or resolved. Usually, by the end of the meeting some progress is achieved or specific issues—difficult to address through writing—are discussed.
  • Casual communication: This could be unrelated to work, but serve as personal communication that helps build bonds and trust among workers and employees. It might be about industry-related topics or more personal subjects that serve as a way to bring people together and encourage team building.

Depending on the kind of communication, use different tools to structure work effectively. For example, email works well for ongoing communication while discussion boards could be used for more pressing or looming deadline discussions. Having a conscious approach to your communication strategies will pay off in the long term.

Use Effective Tools

Once you have a strategy and plan of communication, discussing expectations with your employees will have a well-integrated system of support.

Plenty of online tools and interfaces have made the world of remote working better and more efficient. Tools that facilitate organization and task management have proven useful in setting weekly or daily responsibilities. This helps compartmentalize the necessary strides towards bigger projects. Tools like Asana, Trello, and Airtable can help with setting everyday tasks. Companies like CodersLink— that serve as outsourcing partners— also help establish strong connections between developers and companies; they are great assets that strengthen everyday relations between worker and employer.

Use Communication to Set Expectations

Set milestones and track progress. Always have a system to track the ongoing progress of your employees and organize a time or place where workers can see what is getting done and how that work is having an impact on the bigger picture.

Have more suggestions when it comes to effective communication for remote teams? Let us know below!

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