Communication for Remote Teams

Communication for Remote Teams

Rigid 9-5 schedules and traditional office environments are becoming increasingly archaic as businesses look to flexible and remote working as an option for saving costs, retaining employees and encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

Technology now enables employees to get the job done from almost anywhere in the world. Standard business practices are being given the boot to make way for new progressive rules and business activities. Some companies have even moved away from renting traditional office space, and have been turning to remote or co-working space to accommodate a sizeable remote workforce.

So, what does this mean when managers have to communicate with remote teams who no longer congregate in one office?

Companies are Switching to Flexible Working

A 2016 study conducted by Vodafone involving 8,000 global employees and employers found that three-quarters of companies worldwide have already switched to flexible working options. 61% believe that it had increased the company’s profits, and 83% reported a boost in productivity. Additionally, numerous studies suggest that workers would choose flexible working over a pay rise, indicating that more people are interested in a better work-life balance and a schedule that fits their agenda.

Furthermore, according to Remoters.net, 7.25% of the remote companies listed on their website are originally from the UK, second only to the US.

Remote working is not only unshackling workers from their office desks, but helping companies to attract and retain talent. Now more than ever, the best talent is seeking organisations that encourage and support flexible working.

The growth in this trend is primarily fuelled by technology, including the rapid increase of mobile tech, communication and project management platforms, as well as the rapid growth of Wi-Fi hotspots, likely to hit 432.5 million globally by 2020.

The Rise of Remote Working

Remote working is becoming more prevalent, with many companies allowing employees to work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. According to PowWowNow, 58% of UK workers are offered flexible working, while further research indicates that 70% of businesses will adopt flexible and remote working by 2020.

Additionally, new research from totaljobs found that one in four workers (28%) would move jobs if they weren’t allowed to work from home. The research also reveals that remote working is in the top five most important benefits when looking for a new job, beating perks like travel allowances, learning and development, and enhanced parental leave.

The rise of cloud technology has changed the way companies do business, allowing them to implement processes and working conditions while keeping flexibility. UK cloud adoption has grown by 75% since 2010, and further growth is inevitable as new and exciting technologies continue to emerge.

There are numerous benefits to remote working, for both the employee and the employer:

  • Increased productivity – According to YouGov research, 30% of employees felt that their productivity increased when they worked away from the office.
  • Higher morale – According to one study, those who work from home are generally happier, while another study found lower stress levels among remote workers. Additionally, one in five employees say juggling their work and personal lives is the leading cause of stress.
  • Higher employee retention – Offering remote work options reduced employee turnover and job attrition fell by over 50%.
  • Happier employees – Many studies show that remote working results in happier, healthier, more productive workers, while being given a choice to work remotely gives staff a sense of freedom and builds trust.

Industries Leading the Way for Remote Working

According to Remoters.net, software or technology roles are the most popular, with 29.2% of remote jobs posted by companies from the field of Information Technology, followed by mobile app development at 4.51%.

After technology, marketing is the second-best industry for remote workers, with 24.5% of remote jobs posted from this field. The reason for its popularity is that numerous roles can be covered completely online, including content writers, social media managers, SEO strategists and digital marketers.

Top 10 fields for remote working:

  • Information Technology – 29.2%
  • Marketing – 24.5%
  • Business Administration and Management – 4.7%
  • Mobile App Development – 4.5%
  • Shopping – 3.9%
  • Other – 3.5%
  • Education and Training – 3.3%
  • Arts – 3.3%
  • Human Services – 3.2%
  • Correction and Security – 2.9%

Communicating with Remote Teams

For many workers, increased connectivity in personal and work lives has made the transition into remote working a relatively easy one. Faster and more reliable Wi-Fi and broadband, access to cloud systems and team collaboration tools mean ‘the office’ can be just about anywhere. By streamlining your work processes in this way, your team can be more professional, productive and efficient in the long run.

Along with the benefits, there are some challenges to managing remote teams:

Communication – Getting people in different locations to work together for a common goal can be tricky. That said, the Internet has provided many powerful tools to assist with communication and collaboration in today’s modern workplace.

Hiring the right people – Recruiting the right people is crucial. Not everyone can work effectively in a remote location. Therefore, you must find people who can demonstrate their ability to manage time, handle their workload and deliver results.

Keeping track of activities, goals and productivity –  In remote settings, employees must know how to manage themselves and often wear different hats. It is therefore important to ensure team members are aware of the company’s long-term and short-term goals.

Growing Company Culture with a Remote Team

Generally, co-located teams have an easier time building a company culture than remote teams. That said, here are some things business owners can do to create a positive company culture with a remote team:

Choose tools that match your culture: Because all communication and collaboration will be done using online tools, it is essential to choose apps and software that match the culture you are trying to create. If you want to create a fun, laid-back environment, choose tools that match this atmosphere. You also want to make it as easy as possible for your remote team to stay up-to-date. Be it via video conferencing tools, chat apps, or the comments section of your project management tool, you need to offer various ways to keep in touch.

Team building: Team building does wonders to foster communication, especially among remote workers who do not see each other on a daily basis. Where possible, create an ‘office social life’ by planning regular meetups, lunches, and team building activities to boost team morale.

Recognition: Public recognition for a job well done is one of the most effective and most natural ways to motivate a remote team. Shout outs in a team chat, during meetings or any other way, will not only boost morale and motivation but set a standard for other team members to strive for.

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