Great conversation skills are very important in a remote work environment.
Learning how to collaborate with remote teams can be difficult when you are a newcomer to the remote industry. Working from home presents a lifestyle change that some can find adapting to challenging.
Communicating effectively with remote team members is essential to your employee’s well-being and happiness. Learn how to navigate employee relations and build a communication plan for remote employees for optimal performance and employee satisfaction.
How to Build Trust With Remote Employees
Effective communication is essential in building trust with remote employees. Since remote workers don’t have the opportunity to meet co-workers or employers in person, sometimes communication online is all they have.
1. Use Empathy and Be Supportive
Making the switch from a traditional in-person occupation to a remote one can be challenging to say the least. The remote industry is a vastly different lifestyle with many benefits but can pose many challenges.
Understand that your employees may struggle to adapt, and offer outlets and support when you can. Coming into a remote role and feeling like you are facing obstacles left and right all by yourself is not fun and can make workers consider seeking other employment when that is the last thing they want to do.
Encourage your employees to reach out whenever they are experiencing difficulty, especially in the first few months of their employment. You want your employees to feel like they have people in their corner rooting them on, rather than feeling shame or like a hindrance when they don’t understand or have a question about something.
Employees who are new to a role in your company but not new to the remote lifestyle may not need as much support. Offer guidance regardless. Feeling seen and heard in a remote workplace is vital to employee well-being.
2. Encourage Working Relationships
Since it is a workplace, usually, personal inquiries are not required or encouraged. However, the camaraderie that typically happens in an office is nonexistent when working from home. Remote employees don’t get the occasional water cooler talk in the lounge at the office or on lunch breaks.
Employees can gather information from co-workers without even speaking. Sandy from the cubicle next to mine runs late on occasion from dropping her daughter off at daycare and has animals since her black pants usually have some sort of pet hair on them.
This is an example of social cues that can be noticed in person that remote workers don’t experience. This can be a pro or con depending on perspective but can be discouraging for people who thrive off social interaction and are not accustomed to working remotely.
Encourage employees to get to know one another to build working relationships. Offer communication platforms for employees, like MangoApps, to connect socially outside work hours and encourage them to do so. Simply offering the platform may not be enough, though. It can be discouraging when the same people consistently post on media and other employees never engage.
On the other hand, employees work so hard during business hours that they don’t necessarily want to connect in their free time. Connection in the office is initiated while on the clock, so why should remote workers have to reach out after hours?
Consider hosting a meet and greet for all new hires to introduce them to the team. Encourage them to share a little about themselves, introduce everyone, and have them do the same. This could open the door for employees to share similar interests and offer a baseline for connection.
They don’t have to become best friends, but getting a little personal can boost job performance and make them feel less isolated when working remotely. Having a co-worker that you can bounce ideas off or go to for advice can be a game changer in remote workplaces.
3. Set Clear Guidelines and Expectations
Efficient communication can build a solid foundation for remote team members. Small gestures like random check-ins or shout-outs on media platforms can boost morale and productivity. Being proactive in your approach to communication plans for remote employees can ensure that you have open lines of communication.
By setting clear expectations and guidelines from the beginning of employment, workers can better understand what to expect and how to proceed with potential issues or questions that may arise. Frustration can occur when workers don’t understand their expectations well and feel that their questions aren’t welcomed or encouraged.
On the other hand, setting unrealistically high expectations can also lead to burnout and exasperation. Establishing clear yet flexible expectations is key to providing the structure remote team members need to flourish. Making sure your remote employees feel supported and their questions are validated can be vital to their success. No one wants to feel alone or like they aren’t sure what is expected of them.
It can also be aggravating not knowing the proper way to approach a situation that could quickly be dealt with in a social setting. There can be many difficulties in finding balance in a new work-from-home environment.
Trying to figure out how and when you are supposed to deal with certain things when you are so accustomed to working closely with other people is challenging. Transitioning to remote work can be a struggle, so support and clear guidelines and expectations can be keys to employee success.
4. Schedule Check-Ins and Video Conferences
Virtual meetings are the most essential tools a remote employer can offer remote workers. Build a communication plan for remote employees by regularly scheduling check-ins and video meet-ups.
These conferences can be held daily, weekly, or monthly. The more regular the meetings are, the more your team will feel connected. There should be plenty of time scheduled for workers to join discussions without interference in the flow of their projects.
Employees should have routinely scheduled meetings with people on their teams to discuss issues, goals, and possibly even collaboration opportunities. It is so crucial for employers to know how to collaborate with remote teams when they are the team captain. Without proper leadership, the team may falter.
The team leader should know how to establish dominance while simultaneously extending grace and companionship to its members. There can sometimes be a struggle to find balance, but once it is mastered, the team will benefit significantly from it.
Not only should the team leader be the team’s biggest cheerleader, but they should also be the eye of the storm. Team members should feel 100 per cent like their leader has their back no matter what. Working remotely can make the sense of a work family feel obsolete.
Not only do you not get to know your fellow team members personally, but you also don’t get to know them professionally in some cases. While video conferencing can be beneficial, it is not the same as the camaraderie you experience in-house.
5. Tones of Text
Similar to comparing text messages to phone calls, the tone of written communication can easily be misconstrued. Emails and comments on threads don’t hold a candle to a quick stop by your office or a short phone conversation.
Ensure that your written words hold weight and adequately convey what you intend to say. Incorporate emojis or gifs into your messages to make them feel lighter and less intimidating. They can also add a slightly personal touch to your message.
Video conferences can sometimes feel rushed and too professional for employees to feel comfortable enough to express their feelings.
While you cannot please everyone no matter how hard you try, you can try to be inclusive and ensure there are methods of communication that suit each employee’s needs. If you consider every employee an asset to your company, ensure that they, without a doubt, feel that way also.
If they feel like you don’t know them personally and are easily replaceable, they will not perform as well as they would somewhere they feel like they are making a name for themselves.
When employees feel indispensable, they will most likely give you their absolute best all the time. When they feel the opposite, they may seek other employment or just operate at half capacity until they feel comfortable enough to address how they feel or gain the courage to move on.
6. Ensure Ample Opportunities to Shine
Remote workers can feel like they aren’t living up to their full potential. Some employees thrive in social settings. Their personality and drive are transparent and it is clear that they work hard to strengthen their skills and are determined to be the best they can be.
While hard work and dedication can sometimes speak for themselves, there are other times that soft skills and strong personalities that are great for leadership and team-building roles can be hidden by a lack of social interaction.
Feeling like your talents are being hidden by a lack of physical presence is hard to wrap your head around. Try to cater to your employees’ strengths and allow them to showcase their talents.
Offer periodic reviews and confidential questionnaires that give your employees the chance to express their concerns about their remote environment. Ongoing learning is another critical factor in furthering the well-being of your employees.
Encouraging remote workers to continue growing in their field reinforces their hard work. Your remote employees should feel rewarded for their efforts in some personal way since they cannot benefit from company dinners or cocktail parties.
Hosting employee events is a great way to show appreciation for their work, but remote workers aren’t afforded that luxury. Find something of equal value that can reinforce incentives and make them feel worthy and appreciated.
Conversation Skills in the Workplace
Conversation skills can seem insignificant in remote work settings. Since remote employees benefit from working in the comfort of their homes with their loved ones, they can be coveted and viewed as nonessential.
Why would they need to be catered to when they have it so easy? Working from home is anything but easy. It has advantages, but proper communication is crucial for optimal results.
Conversation can clear up issues no matter what they pertain to. Without communication, there is no room for error. Humans make mistakes, and we are all human. There must be strong conversation skills to support and encourage one other to ensure the company’s success.
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My name is Beth. I’m a health writer with 3+ years of experience, and I run an online wellness magazine, Body+Mind.