Guide to Effective Communication for Teams that Work from Home

Thereís no doubt that COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our lives over a very short period of time. We had to adapt to all kinds of new situations without prior notice, and that came with many challenges. Take work from home for example. Besides the ones related to infrastructure, equipment, and managing work-life balance, there is also an additional barrier. The communication skills of your team members are now at the make it or break it point.†

Guide for Effective Communication for Teams that Work from Home

If you are working with a remote team and feel like your communication skills need some improvement, or simply wish you knew how to communicate more effectively with your teammates, keep reading forward. We have compiled a short guide with some of the most important things you should and shouldnít do while communicating with your remote team.

Doníts 

Online team communications can be tricky. You donít want to bother your teammates and come off as disruptive. Yet, at the same time, you need their input and collaboration to get your work done.

While trying to figure out the best approach might be a matter of trial and error, you should know there are some things you should generally refrain from doing. And this is valid for both when you work from home or in the office.

Associate colleagues with ambiguous negative feedback

Saying what bothers you is not only brave but also healthy for the team relationships youíre fostering. However, you should refrain from naming people, especially when your feedback is ambiguous and not specifically related to someoneís work in particular.

No one likes being associated with something negative and that kind of situation can create unwanted and unneeded tensions.

Take things personally 

Another issue with peer-to-peer feedback is that some people canít accept constructive criticism without having their ego hurt. The whole purpose of getting feedback – be it from leaders or peers – is to improve the quality of your work.

Knowing what you did good and what still needs improvement can help you grow professionally. Leave your ego aside, since no one is flawless, and be happy for the growth opportunities provided by your team. 

Be passive-aggressive

Thereís nothing more damaging for team relationships than being passive-aggressive towards teammates.  ďNo offense, butÖĒ has never prevented someone from taking offense in whatever came after that but.

Phrases like this are passive-aggressive and should be avoided at all costs. 

Be afraid to ask questions/speak your mind 

Leaving things unsaid has the potential to generate confusion and lead to conflict. There is no shame in asking questions if you feel like you need more explanations. It doesnít mean you are not competent or less smart. On the contrary, knowing more about the subject discussed allows you to go deeper and have a better grasp of the matter.

Also, being straightforward about the things that are bothering you will help you clear the air and not let something minor turn into a big deal with more potential for damage. 

Stress your teammates with messages

While chatting with your friends, itís acceptable to use short sentences and one-word messages, but instant written communication requires some discipline, especially when itís related to work.

Besides the fact that it makes the text harder to follow, repeated messages can be quite stressful. Hearing chat sounds one after another while focusing work can be very distracting and a productivity killer.

Ignore messages from colleagues when they depend on you

The work from home environment is full of distractions. Unfortunately, not everybody has been able to find a way to overcome the challenges imposed by the lack of childcare, improper office space, or COVID anxiety and fatigue. However, these are not excuses to ignore your coworkers trying to reach you during working hours for work-related matters.

When people depend on you, being dismissive or ignoring their attempts to contact you will hurt not only your reputation but also the whole teamís efforts. 

Dos

Now that you know what you should avoid doing, letís talk about what you should do. While you work from home during this pandemic, here are some things to run smoothly with your team.

Follow-up

Avoid ghosting your teammates at all costs. That will make you look bad and unprofessional. Instead, make sure to always follow-up with everyone youíve been in touch with during the day.

Thatís an especially important step you should always do before leaving your desk for longer periods of time, for lunch breaks, or at the end of the day. 

Be patient

If your co-worker doesnít reply to your messages in a couple of minutes, donít get alarmed and pushy. Unless itís absolutely urgent, give people time to finish the tasks they were involved in before being able to read your messages.

A good idea would be to compile everything you want to say into a single message instead of sending several short lines that might become disruptive. 

Use the right tools

Stick to the official channel of communication your team is currently using. If they are using a team communications app, such as Hubgets, respect that decision and donít attempt to reach your co-workers for work-related matters via other channels, unless there is an emergency or a different previous agreement. 

Be reliable

Even if you agreed upon a flexible working schedule, you still have a responsibility towards your teammates, your leaders, and your company to be available during certain hours. Do your best to start on time and actually be there when youíre supposed to.

Check-in with your team regularly throughout the day, and check your messages at least once every hour.  If something comes up, make sure you communicate it to the right persons. Be someone people can trust and count on! 

Be empathetic

Just as you are anxious and trying to work through all the challenges imposed by the current situation, that is most probably the case for everyone else around you, including your co-workers.

Keep that in mind and remember it every time you feel like a colleague isnít fast enough to reply, or fails to deliver on time.

We can do it!

Itís a tough time to be alive, to work from home or even from an office. More than ever before, having an effective communication has become paramount. Follow the advice above and you’ll streamline your team’s communication and collaboration, thus improving your general productivity.

Furthermore, weíre all in this together, doing our best to navigate uncharted waters. Letís be kind with one another and lift each other up!

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