3 remote team communication pitfalls and how to solve them

2 weeks ago 6
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A lot can fall through the cracks or be misinterpreted when teams communicate remotely. Here's how to solve some of the top remote team communication issues.

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Image: JGI/Tom Grill/ Getty Images

It's estimated that 36.2 million workers will be working remotely by the year 2025, an increase of 87% from pre-pandemic levels. Almost 70% of workers report that reduced non-essential meetings have worked better than expected, while 44% say fewer distractions at the office contribute to higher productivity. But, how is remote work impacting communication? There is potential for some pitfalls that might need to be addressed.

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1. Misinterpretations due to lack of visual queues

Video conferencing isn't always available or possible due to a host of factors. Homelife and work life can become blurred with so many employees working from home these days and likely well into the future. Taking part in video calls while pets, children and other family members are milling about can be difficult and distracting. When this is the case, it may be more beneficial to everyone to switch to audio-only calls. 

Let's face it, what did we all do before video conferencing? It's simple; we used the telephone to communicate. All participants need to be aware of these things during audio-only conversations to counter the lack of non-visual queues. 

  • Pay attention to your tone 
  • Avoid reading into the tone of others
  • Strive to be more engaged
  • Listen more attentively

2. Reduced professionalism

Working remotely, it can become far too easy for teams to become unprofessional or at least forget that they are still in a professional environment. It can impact how you dress, behave and interact. This is not to say that being comfortable and easy-going isn't a good thing, but it's finding the right balance between relaxed and professional communication. 

SEE: Juggling remote work with kids' education is a mammoth task. Here's how employers can help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Make sure to assess what's appropriate for each meeting or communication. It's essential to know your audience and the purpose of each interaction or communication. When in doubt, try to err on the side of caution, especially when talking with clients or potential clients. 

Communication with co-workers can be more relaxed. The key is to be yourself. Many communications have gone sideways when individuals project a persona that doesn't represent their true selves. Remember, although you're communicating remotely and likely from home, it doesn't mean your level of professionalism should be lowered. It's also a good idea to dress professionally during remote video or audio calls; it helps to keep you in a professional mindset.

3. Reduced communication and connectedness

Another downside of remote work and remote communication is reduced face-to-face communication and bonding. Team members who had become used to meeting in workplace kitchens, coffee stations, gyms and boardrooms no longer have that option. Or, at the very least, these interactions are limited. This means it takes more effort to maintain a sense of community and connectedness. 

It takes intentional effort to maintain good working relationships. Make time to chat more. Schedule time during meetings to check in with each other and see how things are going. It's more important than ever when teams are working remotely. It helps to avoid communication issues, misunderstandings and conflict when teams feel connected. 

Making an intentional effort to connect and pay attention to your tone and that of others can go a long way to keeping remote communication on the right track. Remember, professionalism should also be maintained to ensure you give the best possible impression and are taken seriously. 

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