Assess your remote team communication

 

Whether you have a fully remote team or just a few work-from-home days, you’ll need to deliberately structure and facilitate communication for your team to perform at its best.

How many of these 15 best practices do you and your team do regularly? Even if you do quite a few (way to go!), look for ways you could improve your already good habits.

General interaction and collaboration

  • I give each of my direct reports enough of my attention. Examples: Regular 1-on-1s with everyone; regular office hours available to any team member who needs extra time; and options for remote direct reports like extra 1-on-1 time or time distributed over multiple days to compensate for the lack of spontaneous, in-person interactions.
  • I take steps to make interactions with remotes more personable (and I encourage my team to do the same). Examples: Casual chatting at the start or end of meetings or using video conferencing when possible to help build rapport and assess remote team members’ overall well-being, which are harder to do when you can’t bump into them in the hallway.
  • I give ample feedback and coaching to remote direct reports. Examples: Dedicating time during 1-on-1s for feedback and coaching and setting a quota for the number of times I give feedback to each direct report.
  • I encourage remote and co-located team members to share feedback and ideas with each other. Examples: Suggesting regular peer 1-on-1s and spontaneous feedback requests (e.g., “That’s a great idea. Since Louise has a lot of experience in that area, what do you think of getting her on a video call to ask for feedback about it?”) and building collaborative elements into assignments, like brainstorming sessions or feedback rounds.

For more, see How to manage remote direct reports more effectively.

Culture of group sharing and transparency

  • I ensure that everyone has visibility into one another’s schedules and availability. Examples: Team calendaring and an online system showing team member statuses (such as “available,” “on a call,” “traveling,” etc.).
  • My team follows a system for regularly sharing news and updates with the whole group. Examples: A team messaging tool, group document/dashboard, email list, or dedicated time for news and updates during meetings.
  • I make a point of periodically asking my team how satisfied they are with the team’s flow of information. Examples: Asking your direct reports if they feel well updated, if people are following the team protocols well, and if the protocols need changing or updating and deciding if you should do a group assessment of your team meeting to ensure the meeting is valuable for all.
  • We have a system for recognition and team celebrations that includes remote and co-located team members equally. Examples: Sending a care package to remotes in advance of the team celebration so they can have cake, too; hosting a fully virtual meeting with a trivia game about the person or achievement you’re celebrating; or postponing the happy hour until remote team members are in town.

For more, see How to help remote and co-located direct reports work as a team.

Meeting habits

  • My team meetings are designed so that everyone speaks at some point. Examples: Round-robin updates and having team members rotate leading part or all of the meeting.
  • We regularly prompt participation from remote team members during meetings. Examples: “We haven’t heard from you yet, Emile. What are your thoughts on this?” or “The people in the room have been talking a lot — let’s hear from some of you who are remote.”
  • Co-located meeting participants are conscientious about narrating what’s happening in the room for the benefit of remote participants. Examples: “We’re still hooking up the speaker, so please stand by” or “Darnell is nodding in agreement.”
  • We schedule meetings during the normal work hours of remote team members. Example: Sometimes setting meetings when the timing is inconvenient for co-located team members. (Nothing makes you feel like you aren’t a full member of the team quite like being the one who has to join meetings at 6am or 8pm.)

For more, see How to run a really good meeting with remote workers.

Opportunities for innovative and strategic contributions

  • I make a point to share big ideas I hear in face-to-face conversations with my remote team members. Example: Sharing bits from important conversations in 1-on-1s to spark deeper discussions and to help remote team members contribute at a higher, more strategic level.
  • I seek ideas for innovation and improvement from remote team members. Example: Proactively asking remote team members to share their ideas from outside the daily workflow. (It can be hard for remote team members to know when the time is right to speak up and share these kinds of ideas, which can often bubble up in impromptu, in-person conversations.)
  • We ensure that remote team members have an equal voice when the team has big-picture strategy sessions. Examples: Having team members travel so we can all be together or having everyone develop ideas solo and share them in a group document.

For more, see our full Managing Remote Workers topic.

Did we miss any best practices that have helped your team members improve their communication? Let us know via email so we can add it to the list.