Future of Work is Now: Improve Communication with Remote Work

It’s no surprise. Remote work in some form or fashion is here to stay. For those of you who thought it might be temporary and struggled through the ability to communicate with remote work, now is the time to fully embrace the change. For others that embraced the change, there are small tweaks that will make all the difference! Let's talk about how to improve communication with remote work.Remote work has its perks. You can travel, run your errands, squeeze in a workout and have a much more flexible schedule while you continue to put in the work needed. But, there are downsides as well. If you are not in-person at your organization, you can be forgotten. If you cannot be physically present at your job, you need to make your presence impactful at every opportunity.

Yes, body language is still important even if you are not in person or are on a phone call.

You actually have a lot of control over how to improve communication with remote work. With little effort, you can make a big impact and model the behaviors for your remote team.Obviously, if you are on a phone call, your body language is not as important. But, remember that your body language influences the way you communicate. If you need to make a good impression on a phone call but you are slumped in your chair and wearing sweatpants, your voice will not come across as confident. These small gestures can be the difference between a good or bad result.

Use your camera.

Every chance you get, use your camera. Even if no one else has their camera on…which should never happen. If you are an employer, you should set the expectation that cameras should always be in use with remote work. Show up and be present. It is easier to understand people when you are looking at them. It is also much easier to focus on a conversation and not have distractions like your phone or emails when the camera is turned on. Every call is an opportunity to make your presence impactful.

What is behind you?

Your background matters. If you are self-conscious about your space or it is just a mess right now, use a digital background. Going forward, take the time to add a bookshelf, a plant, your company logo, or some great art behind you. Your workspace can say a lot about you and is a great opportunity to put your best foot forward. Think about what you want to say about those things in your background as you choose them. Your background can also be a great conversation starter and relieve some of the awkwardness, when needed.

Non-verbals are key to good communication.

People have been mastering remote work communication for years. Here are some of the pro-tips.

  1. Lighting matters! Don’t be creepy and have the light behind you. You are a professional. You are not telling ghost stories. If you have poor lighting, add a table lamp in front of you. For better results, make a small investment and get a ring light. It’s not just for Instagram influencers anymore.
  2. Aim your camera at your eyes. You might have to stack your laptop with books or a box until you get it to the proper height. Do not you have your camera on one screen and look at another. Whenever possible, you want the video call to give you the ability to make some sort of eye contact. And, don’t forget to sit up straight.
  3. What you wear matters, but doesn’t have to be a lot of effort. Just because you are in a casual environment does not mean you cannot look professional. Even if you were able to squeeze in a quick workout on your lunch break, you can look good for that 1PM call in seconds! Always keep a blazer on the back of your chair for those last minute meetings that pop up with a client or leadership. A simple pair of earrings helps, too.
  4. Show your personality. Add a colorful blazer, statement earring, or even a tie on occasion. Wave to the camera and smile to brighten someone’s day.

How to best communicate remotely to a group.

Group meetings are the toughest to navigate. If you are leading a remote work group meeting, here are some practical tips to improve communication with remote work.

  1. Ask everyone to mute themselves and to turn on their camera.
  2. Begin with an agenda and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to “table” a topic to discuss in a future meeting. There are goals for the meeting that are a priority, but there are rare occurrences when an urgent matter must take precedence.
  3. In the instance where you have both in-person and remote workers in the same meeting, do not forget about your remote workers. Engage with them through the camera just like you would someone sitting in front of you.
  4. Be engaging! Some of your team members sit in front of a computer all day, so make this meeting interesting. You are not reading off of a slide, you are telling a story.
  5. Give your team members the space to participate. Pauses and silence are ok. Some people are less forthcoming than others. You can give subtle nudges to remind your team it is also ok to share their thoughts in the group chat.
  6. Try to keep the groups small, especially if this is an interview. More than three or four can be overwhelming for anyone and will lead to much more interruptions.
  7. Test. Test. Test. Practice using the virtual tools before the meeting to limit your glitches. Know who is running the deck and run through the timing.

For participants, please participate. Leaders work so hard to put together these meetings. Yes, some leaders could improve their presentation skills to be more engaging, but it helps when they get feedback from participants and can read the virtual room. And this is another opportunity for you to make a real impact. Finally, when we are not able to be in-person to give encouragement and feedback, get more direct with your kindness. “Receiving a compliment, words of recognition, and praise can help individuals feel more fulfilled, boost their self-esteem, improve their self-evaluations, and trigger positive emotions, decades of research have shown. These positive downstream consequences of compliments make intuitive sense: Praise aligns with our naturally positive view of ourselves, confirming our self-worth.” Share these tips with your teams to improve communication with remote work. If your organization needs help navigating the IT waters of remote work or filling your technical skills gaps, TECKpert has your solutions. Reach out today for a free consultation.