May 4, 2020

How do we communicate with a remote team to minimize the errors and threats?

Communication is the most important part of a remote work strategy. This can be a challenge for teams who have started working remotely just recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have mastered this a long time ago because we’ve been working with remote teams for our outsourcing services.

Why focus on Communication is important?

When we lose focus on the way we communicate, disasters can happen. The below example can make it clear who focus on communication is important.

So in this article let’s look at the ways we strategized out communication with a remote to minimize the errors and threats.

Asking Questions and Listening

The first and most effective way to avoid errors in the work is by asking questions and listening to people, especially with clients. When you ask questions, it clears doubts and makes the communication more open and effective. Even with your team, develop a culture where they are unafraid of asking questions to the seniors.
This makes the software development process more transparent. Plus, always keep your listening hat on. The more you are able to listen to people, the closer you get to know their objective and lesser errors.

More than one Communication Channels

To make proper and open communication among members of the team and the clients it is important to have multi ranged communication channels. Some organizations keep emails as a single channel of communication for professionals. That’s a good thing, but relying upon only one channel for communication can hamper the progress of projects.

You can keep email as a professional channel for communication, but there should be a primary channel of communication as well, like Slack, Skype, etc. So your team can get in touch instantly for any issue regarding the project.

Utilizing Video Communication

Some things are said and explained best when face-to-face. It’s true for both personal and professional relationships. When starting the project and at some intervals of the development process as well as the finish of the project, it is important that the team has a clear vision of what they are supposed to do and what they should expect.
Video communications can increase the effectiveness of team collaboration for remote teams. In video chats, the project manager can understand the doubts of the team members by understanding their concerns and can minimize errors in development.

No assumptions, Clear Documentation

Assumptions can be very harmful to the proper working of remote teams. Clear and concise communication can happen by utilizing different communication channels. But there should be no room for assumptions. Even if you have communicated through different channels regarding the project requirements or issues, it is very important to clearly document all of them. And take consent of everyone on the team, about the document.

Clear documentation of requirements is key to the effective working of remote teams. If there are any changes, the project manager should make sure everyone on the team is notified of that. Every time a discussion happens, the project documents should be revised for clarity on the change of scope.

Using Communication and Task Management Tools

For effective project management, while working with a remote team, it’s really important to use proper communication and task management tools. There are many tools you can utilize to manage remote teams. Especially for software development teams, these tools can be very helpful.
You will be able to track the progress of the project, assign tasks, generate reports, and create effective invoices for clients using these tools. We use Asana for our team and recommend it to you. But there are many others you can try to suit your specific requirements like Jira and Basecamp.

Discuss More Often and Updates Daily

To avoid bottlenecks and time legging, we open discussions for everyone on the team. We also prefer to discuss with the client after completion of every phase of development, to set expectations for the next phase. Plus, we have a culture of regular updates among the team members, to keep track of progress.
This way miscommunications can be avoided and errors are minimized. We are also able to identify possible threats to the project development prior and thus can handle it effectively.

Trust, Clarity, and Honesty are Keys

The three keys to effective communication among team members for remote working teams are Trust, Clarity, and Honesty. The team members from juniors to seniors should be able to trust each other and their instincts for better execution of projects. The team should trust that their voice is heard and opinions are considered. The communication among team members should be clear and concise without any loopholes and sugarcoats.
Every stakeholder involved in the project should be honest while communicating with one another. If any mistakes happen, they should accept it, others should appreciate the honesty, rather than scolding them. Juniors should be confident enough to communicate their suggestions and seniors should be polite enough to listen to them.

All the efforts to make communication better for remote teams comes down to one thing- engagement of people. The more ways you can engage people in working together, the better the team works. Also, hiring the right kinds of people, who have better people and social skills, can add extra benefits to in the effective management.
Personal involvement in a professional environment is not suggested but knowing everyone on the team personally, can go a long for effective management of remote teams. Someone on your team might be living with parents with special medical conditions or someone might be living in a shared space. Knowing everyone’s unique circumstances can help you make better strategies for communication for your remote team.
If you would like to read about 14 tools that can help you and your team effectively manage the remote work or work from home, read it here.