What is effective remote communication?

Remote workers communicate virtually and use a range of digital collaboration tools.

Effective remote communication looks like:

  • Using the best communication channels for what you want to say: It was only 10 years ago that many businesses relied on email to connect with their teams. These days though, there are many more ways to reach people. For quick messages, or something more time-dependent instant messaging tools, such as Slack are perfect. If you’re sending over detailed information, email is much better.
  • Choosing videos and screen sharing to explain complex topics: We’ve all heard a picture is worth a thousand words, but we often forget to use visuals in our communication. Sending someone a wall of text isn’t always helpful when breaking down a complicated project into more manageable chunks. Sometimes, sketching out a diagram offers more clarity.
  • Being mindful of different time zones: Lots of industries use a business model that spans several continents. One news website, for example, may have remote journalists and editors working in several countries. For this reason, it’s important to keep track of when everyone is working so meetings don’t edge into personal time. And, if they sometimes do, ensure your teams get to finish early on another day of the week.
  • Making time for virtual-team building activities: The most significant negative experience of working at home is isolation. Unfortunately, when schedules fill up, socialising is the first thing to get pushed back. However, arranging virtual team-building activities is important, as without them your teams lose a sense of togetherness and connection. This has far-reaching consequences and impacts on team morale and productivity.
  • Fighting remote employee burnout with regular one-to-ones: The five most common factors associated with employee burnout are: unfair treatment, unmanageable workload, unclear communication, lack of manager support, and unreasonable time pressure. These factors apply regardless of whether an employee is working remotely or in the office. However, spotting the signs of burnout is more challenging when employees are less visible. For this reason, it’s important to schedule regular one-to-ones.

Benefits and challenges of remote communication

The benefits and challenges of remote communication will grow in significance, as more businesses expand internationally and rely on remote teams.

Benefits of remote communication

Retiring the daily commute is an immediate benefit of working remotely. Especially, for employees who live a considerable distance from the office.

At an organisational level though, the following benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Savings on reduced office space
  • Greater access to global talent
  • More flexibility for your teams

Challenges of remote communication

Like in-person communication, remote communication has its own set of challenges. If you have recently implemented a hybrid or remote working model there may be initial issues around troubleshooting devices and setting up equipment.

Additional challenges of managing a remote team include:

  • Difficulty keeping everyone on the same page
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction
  • Technological difficulties
  • Isolation and loneliness

Types of remote communication

There are two types of remote communication, asynchronous and synchronous.

  • Asynchronous communication: When remote teams are working asynchronously, they are not working together at the same time. An example of this would be a new joiner completing an independent training programme. Or, a support engineer using a wiki page to fix a problem.
  • Synchronous communication: Everyone is participating at the same time, for example, in group discussions over video calls. Phone calls and chats over instant messaging platforms are also synchronous communication examples.

Slack and Microsoft Teams are tools used for both asynchronous and synchronous communication. An employee can use them to have a conversation or leave a note.

It’s important to keep in mind that asynchronous and synchronous communication are equally good. The one an employee chooses will depend on what they want to achieve. In fact, remote workers will likely switch between the two throughout the day.

Remote employee holding their phone while working at their desk

Communication tips for remote managers

To help you to get the most out of your remote teams, here are our top communication tips:

Reward remote workers who go the extra mile

When you are working with a distributed team, rewarding high achievers shouldn’t be any more difficult than in the office. If you have a comprehensive employee engagement solution — such as Perkbox — this is even easier as a reward and recognition platform is part of the package.

When researching different reward programs, always review what they include. This is especially important if you’re an international company and need rewards to accommodate a global remote team.

Perkbox is the world’s first global employee rewards and benefits solution and has developed a points-based reward system, making it ideal for international organisations. And, as the Rewards catalogue includes plenty of offerings from global retailers, every employee preference is accounted for.

So, the next time your remote teams achieve something special, show your appreciation with Reward points. The more points an employee has, the bigger the reward they can choose from the Rewards catalogue.

Make appreciation part of your communications strategy

Remote workplace communication — despite what the term suggests isn’t just about work. Celebrating a birthday is just as important as calling out excellent performance. Especially, when people are working by themselves at home. Remembering a birthday or work anniversary demonstrates you value your employees, no matter where they are.

With Perkbox you can recognise both personal milestones and professional achievements with an intuitive reward and recognition program. And, because Perkbox integrates with Microsoft Teams, recognition functionality can be embedded into chats too — which encourages employees to recognise each other even more.

Depending on what is being celebrated, managers can even attach Reward points to the recognition they send. Plus, because each recognition is tagged to company values, everyone knows why a particular behaviour was appreciated — which shows employees how their actions align with your culture. 

Learn how to cultivate your remote culture in just 5 steps with our free checklist

Regularly check in with remote teams to assess their wellbeing

It doesn’t matter if you have a remote team, or work with direct reports in an office — you should always schedule one-to-ones every week or fortnight for around 30–60 minutes. Unfortunately, a lot of managers view one-to-ones as dedicated time to discuss work and performance — however, they are meant to be much more than that.

Of course, body language cues are much easier to spot when attending one-to-ones in person, rather than through a video call. But making a point of including questions about how the person is feeling will give you a better understanding of their wellbeing.

Wellbeing programs are another great way to manage the health of remote workers. Sharing links to health webinars, for example, demonstrates their mental and physical wellbeing is something you think about. Additionally, offering an enhanced wellbeing package that includes an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is also a good idea.

With Perkbox your teams get access to a vast library of mental and physical wellbeing resources, including webinars, workouts, meditations, and more. Their financial health is also supported, as the platform has expert talks on money management too. If you want an enhanced package that includes an EAP or health cashback plan, our team can help with that as well.

Try to keep important comms in one easy-to-find place

Onboarding, offboarding, and training require a different tact when conducted remotely. In the office, organisations have the luxury of space and can hold these meetings in dedicated rooms. What’s more, employees can simply sign contracts in person and don't have to wait for these documents to arrive in their inboxes.

Having a globalised comms platform makes sharing information much easier with virtual teams as everything is in one place. There is no hopping between emails and different drives, everything that’s important is easily accessible. To reduce the burden of tracking down documentation Perkbox includes a smart comms and culture platform as standard.

With engaging visual cards you can attach videos, photos, pdfs, docs, and more. This means if you want to share a town hall recording you can do this on the platform — where everyone with the Perkbox app can find it. The same goes for benefits updates, onboarding pdfs, and training materials. Publishing a card is simple too, as we include a range of templates. But for times when you want something more unique you can create your own.

Boost engagement with perks and benefits reminders

Running a campaign to remind virtual teams what perks and benefits they’re entitled to is a really effective method for boosting engagement. In an office lots of employee perks are obvious. Fruit bowls are conveniently placed at the end of desks and corporate discount posters line the walls of stairwells. But at home, perks are less visible and are often intangible.

Get more tips on how to boost engagement in remote employees here

For these reasons, a lot of companies turn to global discounts and perks packages to support their remote teams. Instead of offering hot beverages and free fruit bowls, employees can redeem vouchers for coffee, tea, and healthy snacks instead. Offering a flexible perks package offers a much better experience than a one size fits all approach, as employees only choose the discounts they want.

Perkbox offers 1,000s of global discounts and perks and has partnerships with some of the biggest brands. Plus, with a monthly allowance of Flexi points your remote teams can treat themselves to Flexi Perks at no cost to them. Flexi points can be saved or spent right away, depending on the Flexi Perks your employees want to enjoy.

5 remote communication tools

Remote managers have plenty of remote communication tools at their disposal. A typical suite includes project management tools, engagement solutions, and instant messaging platforms.

Here, we give a brief overview of the different tools remote managers use to communicate remotely.

1. Engagement tool: Perkbox

Perkbox is the world’s first global employee rewards and benefits platform. It’s one of the most comprehensive engagement solutions on the market and targets many employee experiences to boost remote employee engagement.

At a glance, it includes:

  • A flexible recognition and reward platform
  • thousands of global discounts and benefits
  • Curated wellbeing content — developed by industry experts
  • A centralised source of company updates and benefits

As more remote work opportunities open up, digital tools that enhance significant experiences such as recognition, wellbeing, and benefits will grow in necessity.

2.  Project management tool: Monday

Monday is a project management tool that streamlines your workflow. It includes a range of useful features, such as task automation, data visualisation, and project tracking. Using the reporting functionality you can measure if you are on budget by exporting data on project timelines, spend, and other important metrics. 

3.  Instant messaging tool: Slack

Slack is an instant messaging tool that facilitates collaboration, making it an effective synchronous and asynchronous communication tool.  In fact, it’s just as easy to reach out to someone over Slack as it is in person. With the channel feature, you can set up group chats between different departments or create them for individual projects.

4.  Video calls: Microsoft Teams

Video calls are essential for remote work. If remote teams can’t put faces to names and have some form of direct communication, it harms team morale, which often results in disengagement and loneliness. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, 89% of employees feel video calls create a greater sense of connection.1 Whatever video platform you choose, it’s important to select the right package. You don't want it cutting out after 40 minutes during an hour-long meeting.

5.  File storage and collaboration: Google Drive

Whether it’s writing documents, generating reports, or updating spreadsheets, remote employees need somewhere to store all of their work. Document control is also essential to avoid confusion and data loss. Using a cloud-based storage system however, helps improve communication between employees —  especially if it includes an app suite. Using this type of system enables employees to simultaneously work on files, rather than tinkering with different versions.

Best practices for borderless communication

If you want to improve remote communication in your organisation try following these best practice principles:

  • Encourage a culture of appreciation, obvious examples are celebrating quick wins and birthdays
  • Make the time for socials to promote face-to-face communication, even if it’s only online.
  • Provide the right remote tools to help your employees communicate effectively.
  • Check in on the wellbeing of your entire team and make mental health a priority.

Remote worker smiling during a phone call in their home office

Choose Perkbox to support remote communication

Perkbox is a comprehensive engagement tool that helps organisations take care of their teams. It doesn't matter if your employees exclusively work from home or come into the office a few days a week, Perkbox has everything you need to keep them engaged and happy.

If you want to see how Perkbox can benefit your remote workers, request a demo today and a member of our team will get back to you.

Remote communication: your FAQs answered

What are the different methods of remote communication?

There are several methods of remote communication, the most obvious are: video conferencing, email, instant messaging, and text messages. Other ways of communicating include writing notes on a project management board and collaborating on a shared document. Sending rewards and showing recognition on an engagement platform are the best methods for keeping your culture alive when people aren't working together in person.

Why is remote communication important?

How do you communicate effectively remotely?

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