Communicating With A Remote Team

Communicating effectively is hard enough when you work in the same location as your team. It is made even harder if your team works remotely. So what platform should you use in which situation?

The remote team manager needs to make sure every interaction they have with their team members is delivered using the right platform. Here is a general guide to which medium works best:

  • Use Email for short, neutral exchanges of information
  • Use Chat for informal talks; group discussions and general announcements
  • Use Skype for long, detailed, or potentially difficult conversations
  • Use the telephone for long, detailed, or potentially difficult conversations if you can’t Skype.

The reasoning behind these recommendations is that email is the most vulnerable medium for being misinterpreted, since it lacks the context created by the tone-of-voice, body language, and facial expressions of the people communicating. For this reason you should reserve the use of email communication for objective discussions.

The various chat platforms that are available are every remote team manager’s best friend. You should use them to share general news, as this is far more efficient than sending a mass email and then getting individual replies. Also use chat platforms to talk about things as a group, for socialising and getting to know people in the team better.

However, if your communication is going to be in-depth, lengthy, or emotional in content, you should always use Skype. It is far more effective and efficient to have a 45 minute video-chat with a team member rather than send emails back and forth for two hours. If your message is emotional (such as giving someone critical feedback or bad news) then having that conversation with a face-to-face element is vital as it will make the message warmer and more human.

Sometimes you are unable to Skype even though this would be the best choice. In these situations your next best option is to call the person directly. Whilst you won’t be able to see their face, the telephone at least allows you to hear their tone of voice.

For more on remote team management why not attend our specialist training course?