Communication culture is key for efficient remote working and home office

March 24, 2020By Daniel

task management for remote teams
Task management for remote teams

Home Office
More and more companies worldwide are implementing home office for their employees. There are many cloud services, which make remote work possible. Furthermore, your colleagues already have the technical equipment like a laptop or smartphone to work from home. Thanks to Netflix and other cloud services most people have a good internet connection at home which is ideal for remote work. The environment for remote work is better than ever before.

A major challenge working in a team is to have a good communication. Most problems occurring in our daily work are probably caused by bad communication or a lack of it. For remote working teams it is even more challenging to establish a good habit of communication. It is also essential for a remote digital worker to get all the information necessary in advance before doing the work. However, too much communication can be overwhelming sometimes. First of all, nowadays there are many communication channels everyone has to supervise. With every additional channel it becomes harder to keep track of everything. Let us give you a few hints on how to avoid some pitfalls of communication while being in home office.

Have primary communication channels

task management for remote teams
Task management for remote teams

First thing you should do as a team is to decide which service or channel is the primary one! For example, here at Basaas we use Slack for chat, E-mail for announcements or external communication and Google Meet (or Zoom) for video calls. It is important to have default channels across the whole team – otherwise you could end up having an important topic spread out over different channels or flooding a channel with off-topic messages (e.g. small chats in Atlassian JIRA tasks or Microsoft Word documents) instead of where they belong and more importantly – where people expect them.

When working in different time zones or time schedules it is also helpful to have daily stand-ups, ideally in the tools your team is using. For example, there are bots for Slack which automatically message every colleague and asks them about their daily accomplishments, to-dos or impediments.

One thing which stands out in working remote is to have video calls. Video calls have the advantage that you see your colleagues (duh), you bond more compared to chat messages and you can experience their reaction to a topic. Everyone has been in regular calls with these awkward moments of silence. Video calls are great because they stimulate/force everyone to pay more attention and also give the voice to people who wouldn’t interact normally in a regular call. With Video calls everyone can get the attention with gestures and make it easier to spread the word across the team.

Do not skip regular meetings – have a video call

Speaking of video calls, it is important as a manager to have spare time for everyone in your team to just talk. One-on-ones are essential to keep a healthy relationship across your team and to understand if things are going good or bad. And you should definitely invest some spare time to talk about non-work-related topics, as you would have normally done while having a coffee break in an office. This helps bonding with your colleagues and keeps the work atmosphere healthy. And if you have regular one-on-one jour-fixe meetings with your employees, they should always take place and should never get canceled without a proper reason, even when working remotely. Those meetings are crucial. Canceling such a meeting without a replacement may have a negative impact on your professional relationship, as it is a reserved time slot for your employee’s individual topics and needs. Furthermore, it can be really useful in larger teams to have weekly check-ins.

Communicate when you are away from keyboard (AFK)

task management for remote teams
Task management for remote teams

Many companies have core working hours. Still, it can happen that during these hours you are AFK (away from keyboard) or busy in a meeting. In an on-site environment, your colleagues can see that you are not at your desk, not so when working remotely. Which is why it’s a good practice to let everyone know when you’re currently unavailable. Other team members may be blocked in their tasks waiting for you or your feedback but communicating to them beforehand how long you’ll be unavailable, gives them a chance to circumvent this issue, e.g. focusing in the meantime on other tasks or getting help from another colleague.

Life hack
Block a slot in your calendar when you are AFK to let others know.

Emojis for the good vibes and quick feedback

task management for remote teams
Task management for remote teams

A simple reaction to a messages from your colleagues is sometimes underrated. Today it is easier than ever – you can react in most tools with just an emoji. A simple thumbs up shows that you are appreciating the other persons work. It is a powerful way to give kudos to your colleagues or let them be part of your emotional response. And it is way easier than in the past when you had to answer to mails.

In summary having a good communication culture is key for a successful remote work.

With Basaas you can enhance your communication with some smart features and have all the apps you are using for communication at one place.

You receive all the notifications for new messages or appointments from different apps and channels unified in one single app. You can also mute channels independently or the whole Basaas App if you want to work highly focused. Another smart helper is that you can create personal to-dos for yourself or your colleagues directly from any of your app with a few clicks. Imaging that you receive a message with a task from a colleague in Slack. Simply click the right mouse button on the message and save it as a To-Do in your Tasks Widget. The next time you are working on that specific task, you open it in your Task Widget and see. The task also has a deep link to the initial messages which takes you to the conversation with that colleague in Slack! And finally, with Basaas you can search all your connected apps at once for that one specific message you are looking for. With our Global Search you can search for messages, contacts, mails or to-dos and that all from one place.