It is important to streamline communication among the members of the team early on to avoid snowballing of small problems and misunderstandings. Before we explore the ways to streamlining communication, we need to understand the challenges of remote working.
Before blowing up in large proportions owing to the Covid situation, remote working or virtual teams have existed in many organizations for a long time, on a small scale. Certain work profiles required round-the-clock support and having a team that works at different time zones, perfectly served the need.
While on one hand, having a remote team spread across the globe brings in the benefits of cross-culture diversity and timezone, on the other hand, by not employing suitable measures, intra-team communication can stagger.
Challenges with remote teams
The most significant challenge with remote teams is the lack of face-to-face interaction among the team members. This cascades into many more problems like poor communication and information exchange, and the absence of a feeling of belongingness amongst the employees all leading up to a dip in KPIs and throughput of the team.
In a typical remote team with poor communication and information exchange, on one end of the spectrum exists an employee who is perennially frustrated that their contributions aren’t reaching their bosses, and on the other end lies a worrying manager who wonders why their team lacks the vigor and productivity expected out of them.
Amidst all these are the clueless new joiners who are left perplexed seeking information. They do not know whom to approach for clarification and are hesitant to ask questions they deem silly.
The challenges of virtual teams can be summed up as follows:
Miscommunication: Not communicating necessary inputs or conveying incorrect information comes under miscommunication, which is one of the prominent challenges in remote teams.
Disconnect: In the absence of regular meetups and casual interactions and info exchange among the team members, it takes much longer for information to reach all team members.
Alienation: Team members feel lost and stressed out in the absence of face-to-face interactions, leading to poor mental health, increased anxiety and ultimately a shunted professional growth. This results in loss to the organization and the employee as well.
Management challenges: Hurdles in communication also cost to the management of the organization whereby the managers cannot track their team members, comply with strategies, all culminating in poor KPIs
Can technology solve these issues? What measures can organizations implement to streamline communication within their remote teams?
Measures to streamline communication
In situations where manual effort is not effective, technology helps to bridge the gap and streamline communication. We have curated some of the professional software solutions that ease out the communication woes.
Tools for quick communication
A chat tool for instant messaging, analogous to ‘asking the colleague in the adjacent cubicle’ can avoid communication delays and can pave way for a quick catch-up among the colleagues. As it is devoid of all communication formalities that exist in email communication, a chat tool can also double up as an ice breaker among many employees.
Video calling tools
Video conferencing is the closest one can get to real-world face-to-face communication. Tools like Zoom, Hangouts, Google Meet, Microsoft teams all aid in real-time virtual face-to-face communication. Having frequent video calls focuses on non-verbal communication and thereby improves the trust factor between the participants.
Chatbots for FAQs
A chatbot for frequently asked questions and for documenting the knowledge that lies in the public domain is a great tool to swiftly onboard and integrate new employees into the team. It also saves a lot of time and avoids delays in fetching information.
Arena for info share
Having a common SharePoint with training materials, tech discussions, documentation of unsolved problems, and info share will encourage employees to interact more, discuss innovative solutions and in general put their views across the table(albeit a virtual one)
Digital tools for task tracking
A transparent ticketing system where all stakeholders get to view and document the progress of their tasks helps the management to track progression. Team members also get to glimpse at the bigger picture and are motivated to work further towards completion.
Organizations can also look into digitally gamifiying their operations. Click here to know more.
Benefits of Digital tools for streamlined communication
Employing one or more digital tools for streamlined communication yields an assortment of benefits to the organization
- With digital tools, it is easier to reach the team members anytime and anywhere
- It saves time and manual tracking effort
- Data exchange is secure with advanced digital tools. There is no fear of data leaks or data theft.
Remote teams are here to stay for years to come. They have proven to be an incredibly successful model once seamless communication is established among the members of the team.
In addition to following the right team-building techniques and having effective leadership, inculcating effective digital tools can boost coherent connectivity and communication.
As effective communication prevents most of the problems cropping up on-site, in addition to existing tools, organizations can also use custom-built tools to suit their application.