How to streamline communication between remote teams?

Mike Krzyzewski, an American basketball coach, rightly says, “Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”

Indeed, effective communication is one of the cornerstones of a company’s success.

Be it for getting an executive buy-in, conveying regular updates to stakeholders, or managing teams, communication plays a critical role in every facet of the business landscape. It helps convey the requisite information at the right time, facilitates the exchange of innovative ideas, strengthens team bonding and collaboration, and improves work efficiency.

However, ensuring effective communication becomes challenging when the team is dispersed across remote locations. When team members are working in varying time zones and locations, it creates silos, and thus, bringing them on the same page becomes cumbersome for a project manager.

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These communication barriers can lead to loss of trust and transparency over time and negatively impact the project’s progress. Therefore, it is vital for a project manager to walk the extra mile and take suitable initiatives to enhance remote team communication.

Enlisted below are a few good strategies that you can follow to achieve the same:

 Tips to foster better communication among remote teams

1. Convey roles and responsibilities clearly

Defining clear roles and responsibilities helps every remote team member understand what is expected of them and align their efforts with the project’s end goals. However, while conveying key responsibility areas (KRAs) in person is easy in a typical in-office work setup, remote work settings make it more arduous. Nevertheless, by using the right tools, the project manager can convey KRAs to remote teammates effectively.

For example, they can use a video conferencing tool for one-on-one meetings or send an email to explain the responsibilities to individuals.  Moreover, an initiation meeting at the start of every project can also help the team members get to know each other better. Additionally, the project manager can elaborate on interdependencies. It will enable the team to comprehend each other’s responsibilities, communicate and collaborate effectively, and synchronize their efforts better to achieve milestones.

  1. Standardize rules for remote communication

As communication is predominantly online, formulating new policies to streamline asynchronous and synchronous means is the need of the hour. Standardized rules help avoid communication gaps or discrepancies and facilitate fast information exchange. To begin with, the project manager can decide on the communication channels to use for various purposes. For instance, synchronous channels such as Zoom, Google Meet, etc., can be suitable for scrum meetings, brainstorming sessions, training, etc.

On the other hand, asynchronous channels like emails, Slack, etc., can be better for instant messaging, casual communication, file sharing, etc. Besides that, setting protocols for away messages, one-on-one meetings with teammates, breaks, etc., can also help save time and regulate communication.

  1. Conduct daily stand-up meetings

As already discussed, teleworking makes communication and coordination an arduous job for a project manager. It also makes it difficult to keep track of the project’s progress. One of the ways to combat this challenge is to organize daily stand-up meetings. Considering everyone’s schedule and availability, managers can fix a time to ensure no one is left out.

Along with updating the progress, team members can mention the roadblocks, if any, and brainstorm on viable solutions. If issues are significant, scheduling separate meetings can be a good option to discuss them. Further, urgent meetings to communicate unprecedented changes or risks can also boost communication and coordination.

  1. Leverage the right tools and technology

Communication is not confined to messages or video calls but goes beyond that. Equipping virtual teams with the right tech inventory is essential for a remote team to enhance it further.  So, besides providing a video conferencing tool or messaging app, a project manager can also leverage various project management, workflow automation, and visual collaboration apps. It not only helps convey and visualize the critical updates in real-time but also centralizes them, thereby minimizing any discrepancies.

A resource management tool can also prove beneficial as it provides enterprise-wide visibility of resources. They can view resources schedules, their utilization, productivity, and even project schedules on one platform. For example, they can see an individual’s forecast-vs-actual time report and note any variance in the time predicted to complete a task and the actual time ten. Further, they can conduct a one-on-one meeting and understand and resolve the cause accordingly.

  1. Organize virtual team-building activities

Virtual team-building sessions play a pivotal role in strengthening communication and collaboration. They replicate those water-cooler conversations and casual cubicle meet-ups in the physical office settings and help get rid of the monotonicity and isolation that set in while working virtually. Further, as different team members participate and interact more, they get to know each other better, which breaks down the silos of communication. All this paves the way for stronger team bonding, transparent communication, and cohesive work.

To make every session more inclusive and productive, the organizer should consider every participant’s preference and customize activities accordingly. This will pique everyone’s interest and elevate engagement.

Conclusion

Effective communication is the bread and butter of remote team management. It facilitates team collaboration, ensures the alignment of efforts with final goals, and eventually boosts productivity.

The aforementioned tips will help you build a powerful communication strategy and build synergy between team members. Since remote work is the new normal, it is high time you took the right measures to improve communication within your dispersed team and seal every project’s success.

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Mahendra Gupta

Mahendra Gupta is a PMP-certified professional with over 18 years of experience in smart workforce planning and resource management domain. He leads Saviom Software’s technical research and development wing. His expertise has helped multinational businesses around the globe diversify their project portfolio.