Boss Lady

How to communicate remotely with people who matter to your business

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Work, especially in this day and age, is all about collaboration. Things just simply don’t get done unless people are communicating, but communication doesn’t necessarily only happen when congregated in one room. No, now communication is often done over long distances, even breaking past national borders and cultural and linguistic barriers. In our remote-working world, messages get sent from anywhere to everywhere.

Only, sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, working remotely causes a snag in the essential communication with people that matter to business success. Whether it’s employees, coworkers, or clients that you’re struggling to stay on the same page with, it’s important to work out solutions to all the possible issues of remote communication.

What makes remote communication different

While communication over distances has been around for a long time, going all the way back to letter writing, it’s simply still not as intuitive as in-person communication for most people. When in separate locations, even with all the technological improvements we now have over letters, there’s a lot that can be missed. Crucially, whether using some form of writing, having a phone call, or even getting on video chat, a certain sort of connection is lost when we’re apart.

Without the full advantage of seeing the other person in real life, miscommunications and simple misunderstanding may occur more easily. Being remote simply makes communication difficult. But it does not make it impossible.

Keeping up with workplace communications

Even from opposite sides of the world, you can connect with team members and business partners. Even if you speak different languages and translation or interpretation services are required, nothing has to stand in the way of reaching your business goals. Even remotely, efficient communication is possible.

No matter where you or the other party are located, for communication to happen over a distance, some tools may be required. Whichever technology you want to use is up to you. Just take you time to figure out which one will work best for you and those who you need to communicate with.

You may find that there isn’t one specific tool that you need, standing out above all the other options. The best method of communication will change depending on circumstances. You might use email to get out a lot of information in a format that can be referred back to, an instant messaging platform to send out quick updates or have a friendly chat with coworkers, and video chat for a creative meeting with the entire department. Don’t get stuck with one platform.

Also, don’t get stuck with one way of communicating. Especially if working with anyone of a differing culture, it’s important to differentiate communication styles. You need to watch out for cultural sensitivities or other ways that another’s expectations for communication may be different from your own. Additionally, keep in mind all of those that don’t speak the same language as you. Even with the help of professional translation services, you need to be extra cautious of misunderstandings when your remote workplace communication takes place across languages.

Communicating within the workplace

On the whole, remote communication doesn’t really have to be all that much more complicated than communicating under all other circumstances. If you’re really worried about running into any issues, having a solid plan can help to simplify things for the whole team. Whether you create a formalized document for outlining communications practices, include this in the employee handbook, or just chat it out, what’s important is setting in place those expectations and getting everyone on the same page.

Crucially, you need to set up a practice of regular check-ins and consistent updates. It can definitely help to get the whole team together on a video chat every week or to shoot individual messages over on a daily basis just to make sure the lines of communication stay open. However, you want to be sure to not overdo it, as too frequent check-in may cross the line into micromanaging. Communication is important, but you also want to trust your employees.

Of course, trust and easy communication can come more naturally when everyone knows each other as human beings. It can be hard to build these bonds with co-workers when you’re only interacting on a remote basis, but it is still possible to connect on a more personal level from a distance. One way to do so may be to create a chat room that isn’t meant for anything work-related. In this space, you can bond with team members through personal stories, memes, and even gifs. You may just end up finding yourself with relationships as close as any in-person ones.

Communicating beyond the workplace

It’s not only the other members of your company that communication will need to take place with though. There are also clients, vendors, business partners, and other external contacts you must work and communicate with. Getting the messages you send to those outside your organization right can be critically important, but you may also run up against some problems here if distance keeps face-to-face meetings from happening.

Even if you must stay apart, it is possible to have a very strong relationship with a client or anyone else outside your organization. Setting up expectations for the remote communication at the onset of things is one important step that can really make everything else easier. You want to clear up any confusion by answering the questions they may not even ask, such as: What times of the day can I expect to hear from you and when are good times for me to reach out? How often will I receive updates on progress? And what forms of communication will we be using?

Crucially, you want to ensure that there are no unanswered questions in the air or details left out. Outside of a language mismatch or cultural difference, this is the biggest cause of misunderstanding. Anything you can do to reduce uncertainty is best handled as promptly and efficiently as possible. Send updates as frequently as you have to and don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself. It’s better to put excess effort into getting the details right than to let something slip and deal with a disastrous result.

Keeping the relationship strong and the other party satisfied is the most important thing. Doing your due diligence where communication is concerned is what’s best for your business. To make sure you’re getting it right, you may want to check in with the client for feedback. There are many ways you might do this, but whether you get the information through a written questionnaire or over the phone, what you do with it to improve is what matters. Just as with spoken communication, there is always room for improvement.

Communicating even when apart

Taking care of business is simply not possible without communication, but that doesn’t mean that all work must be done in one location where everyone is always available to chat. Rather, with remote communication, you open up a whole new world of possibilities, such as a global business with global communication. By just learning the ropes to communicating remotely, success will then not be hard to find.

About Brittany LeMoine

Brittany LeMoine is a marketing and business specialist with Regex, based in Houston, Texas.

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