It’s easier to communicate face-to-face. That’s not a preference—it’s a fact. We judge people’s expressions when they speak to us. We react to social cues and gestures and read each other’s body language.
Unfortunately, these factors aren’t applicable for remote workers. 35% of respondents in a survey expressed that they found remote collaboration with co-workers challenging.
Moreover, remote working can give rise to either over or under-communicating. Over-communicating can turn into micromanagement, while under-communicating can prevent teams from meeting deadlines.
Working from home is the new normal—in fact, Twitter’s employees are now permanently remote workers. You may have to work from home for the foreseeable future, so you must learn how to remotely communicate with your co-workers effectively. Here’s how.
Using The 5 Cs
From Martin Luther King Jr. to your favorite high school teacher, the best communicators use the 5 Cs to get their point across. Your remote communication will improve if you ask yourself the following 5 questions:
- Clarity: How clear are you making yourself?
- Cohesiveness: Do all parts of your communication work well together?
- Completeness: Is the information you’re providing complete?
- Conciseness: Do you use as few words as possible to get your point across?
- Concreteness: Is the information you’re providing based on evidence?
Teams find it more challenging to collaborate and coordinate while working remotely.
It’s vital to have a set of guidelines for effective communication and collaboration to create a sense of team. For instance, giving some specific hours people are expected to be available, and when they are not. By setting this expectation, you help to create a mutual rhythm.
Micromanaging tasks can harm productivity when people are spending more time reporting than working. It can also cause employee burnout and make your team anxious and fearful of you. Giving clear guidelines and goals means you can then let people get on with their work.
Examples of effective communication guidelines include:
- Having a weekly or twice-weekly check-in meeting to ensure that all projects are running smoothly.
- Avoiding unnecessary meetings and ensuring that only the necessary individuals are present
- Detailing your team’s time-off policy.
- Making it clear to your team when they’re supposed to be available for communication and when they can be off.
Set Boundaries—Not Barriers
Having healthy boundaries means making roles, feelings, and responsibilities crystal clear, then sticking to them. This enables others to understand how to best work with you.
According to psychologist Joaquín Selva, “Setting boundaries is an important part of establishing one’s identity and is a crucial aspect of mental health and well-being.”
When you set a boundary, you’re creating guidelines for others to interact with you. An example of this is using the if>then implication, which establishes how you react if someone violates a boundary.
Setting a boundary is different from creating a barrier.
Barriers close off communication, while boundaries make it healthy. An example of a barrier is not responding to a co-worker asking you for help, or just saying no. But a boundary is clearly communicating when you can help them and when you cannot.
When you communicate openly and clearly it encourages others to do the same. It’s best to set expectations and boundaries and communicate them clearly to your team.
Effective communication is transformative for remote working environments where messages often get lost in translation. Use it to enable your teams to work together as a cohesive unit.