Remote workers and virtual teams are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s workforce. Due to the overwhelming benefits such as lower costs in overhead, and increased productivity, companies are quickly adopting this trend as a regular part of their business structure.
When it comes to implementing a remote workforce, one of the key things to help optimize the organization’s productivity and growth is to invest heavily in building strong communication. Communication plays one of the most significant roles in strengthening your company’s culture and retaining good workers who are assets to the team. Often, remote workers and freelancers report that they can feel disassociated, neglected and, excluded from the overall company. When it comes to virtual teams, it's necessary for companies to go the extra mile and set up effective and open communication techniques. Below, we’ve outlined our top tips for effectively communicating with your remote team.
1. Set Expectations
When working with a fully or partially remote team, one of the biggest tips is to set the right expectations. Setting expectations is essentially laying out all of the requirements and goals needed to have a working relationship. Take the time to set up a kickoff meeting or call, where you can outline what you expect from the freelancer; the types of work you want to be done, the hours you need from them, and preparing them for their role on your team. In this meeting, you will also get to learn about what works best for them. Many people who choose to work remotely either part-time or full-time, have specific work styles. Some freelancers thrive in environments where the employer is hands off and checks in at milestones along the projects; whereas others prefer constant feedback on a more regimented basis. By establishing a framework of communication between you and the freelancer, you will eliminate unnecessary confusions that can come up along the way.
2. Set Up Preferred Communication Channels
Once you’ve laid out the groundwork for how to communicate between you and your freelancer, the next step is to identify the preferred channels of communication. Being that we exist in the Digital Age, there are numerous technologies available to help run businesses remotely. When determining the best ways to relay information to your freelancers, first consider the length and importance of the message. If it is a quick note, correction, or message, you may want to consider using text message, Slack, or WhatsApp. However, if you are laying out instructions to a task, a new plan, or long-form content, it would be best to use phone calls, emails, Google Hangouts, or a project management tool like Trello. Ultimately, consider the message you want to get across, then determine the best medium to use.
With remote teams, you do not have the luxury of checking up on your workers throughout the day as you would in a traditional office space. Try setting a schedule to help you check in with your remote freelancers; this should be done both daily and weekly. On a daily basis, check-in at the beginning of the day to see what work the freelancer has accomplished the day before, asses any setbacks, and prepare them for the upcoming day. Weekly check-ins should be used to lay out any ongoing projects, prepare for the new week and help motivate and inspire your remote team. One of the biggest concerns that many companies have with managing remote teams is how to tell if the freelancer is working efficiently and effectively. Specifically for customer engagement and sales teams, the Overpass platform provides you the ability to monitor the progress your freelancer is making throughout the day, and get real-time data on their activity.
4. Handle Conflicts
Since you are not in a physical work environment, conflicts and misunderstandings within your virtual teams can often go overlooked. As previously stated, remote workers can often feel neglected and as though their complaints fall on deaf ears. The best ways to address any issues is to promptly hear out their points, clarify the situation and make adjustments, and then reinforce their importance to the team. The last thing you’d want to have happened is for any worker to carry around animosity due to a mishandled situation.
Finally, one of the most important tips for building a great team culture amongst your remote freelancers is motivation! As your team is not near you daily, it’s critical to make a mental note to keep encouraging and inspiring your team. When you oversee work or give feedback, be sure to outline the things they did well, and how they can keep improving on their skills. Reinforcement is a great way to build trust, a good bond and ensure a great working relationship.
Having a strong foundation for communication and a system to help monitor daily activities will set your remote working team up for success. Speak to one of Overpass’ Customer Success Managers about the best ways to establish good communication and learn about the modern day advances in monitoring remote customer engagement teams.