There’s 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.
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 shouldn’t do while communicating with your remote team.
Online team communications can be tricky. You don’t 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 you’re fostering. However, you should refrain from naming people, especially when your feedback is ambiguous and not specifically related to someone’s 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 can’t 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.
There’s nothing more damaging for team relationships than being passive-aggressive towards teammates. “No offense, but…” 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 doesn’t 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, it’s acceptable to use short sentences and one-word messages, but instant written communication requires some discipline, especially when it’s 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 team’s efforts.
Now that you know what you should avoid doing, let’s talk about what you should do. While you work from home during this pandemic, here are some things to run smoothly with your team.
Avoid ghosting your teammates at all costs. That will make you look bad and unprofessional. Instead, make sure to always follow-up with everyone you’ve been in touch with during the day.
That’s 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.
If your co-worker doesn’t reply to your messages in a couple of minutes, don’t get alarmed and pushy. Unless it’s 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 don’t attempt to reach your co-workers for work-related matters via other channels, unless there is an emergency or a different previous agreement.
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 you’re 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!
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 isn’t fast enough to reply, or fails to deliver on time.
We can do it!
It’s 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, we’re all in this together, doing our best to navigate uncharted waters. Let’s be kind with one another and lift each other up!