Keeping your tech team unified when everyone is working remotely can be a big challenge. Working from home adds an extra layer of distance that can make your tech team members feel isolated, which may ultimately lead to miscommunication and company culture issues.
To avoid this, we asked members of Forbes Technology Council for their advice. Below they share some of the most effective ways to communicate with remote tech team members to keep them on the same page.
1. Choose the right medium.
Communication is the key to success, but the magic is in the medium. Face-to-face online meetings are great for brainstorming, team building, and socializing. However, too many can create video fatigue, and too often performance metrics and key data are missed. Communicating via automated workflows for certain processes can help eliminate time-consuming email ping-pong and engage remote teams. – Mirko Holzer, BrandMaker
2. Set clear expectations.
3. Invest in value stream management.
Basic collaboration tools can’t communicate the complexities of a software pipeline. Value stream management provides a single source of truth across all remote software development teams so that everyone can still work effectively with each other. It’s the foundation for work transparency, providing team members access to self-service learning and ensuring everyone will always be on the same page. – Bob Davis, Plutora
4. Hold brief interdepartmental meetings each day.
At the beginning of each day, holding a quick daily meeting of departments that features daily goals and impediments allows for quick and efficient team collaboration. At the end of the day, holding a meeting on what’s been accomplished and what’s holding people back is also useful for maintaining momentum. – Mark Hobbs, Fundmetric Incorporated
5. Develop an ‘asynchronous’ communications model.
Employees’ schedules have been impacted by necessities like childcare and remote schooling, while the frequency of Zoom calls has gotten intense. Move non-urgent meetings to email so people can respond when their schedules allow and embrace more flexible work hours. This “asynchronous” communications model allows employees to still do their best work while accommodating their new circumstances. – Sudheesh Nair, ThoughtSpot
6. Embrace technology to drive collaboration.
The most prepared IT leaders will now start to reassess processes and workflows, embrace technology to drive automation and collaboration, and develop new programs for engaging staff who may feel disconnected. We are embracing video conferencing, going all-in on SaaS project collaboration (e.g., Asana), and increasing the frequency of one-on-one employee check-ins. – Sean McDermott, Windward Consulting Group
7. Connect regular video scrums.
The old school scrum—even if virtual—is key to ensuring successful collaboration. Given so many are working remotely for the first time, a daily video call keeps everyone in the loop, allows for thoughtful conversation, and minimizes miscommunication and potential mistakes. Spending 30 or 60 minutes together virtually can accomplish as much, if not more, than a day in the office. – Matthew Lieberman, PwC
8. Recognize everyone’s contributions and successes.
Enhancing team cohesion by recognizing our diverse talent and contributions helps us stay connected. We’re stronger together. I express our genuine gratitude for work that makes the team better. Profiling successes, including the contributions of those behind the scenes, is empowering and reinforces relationships. I also send surveys to my team, getting input from many vantage points to focus on innovation. – Teesee Murray, Epicor
9. Build non-business activities into business hours.
Develop a cadence so you can conduct non-business activities during business hours. For example, we have found that team members have a higher likelihood of having inter-departmental conversations during luncheons or a trivia fun hour. These opportunities allow diverse tech teams to speak freely about their work without the stress of a formal virtual meeting. – Steven Khuong, Curacubby
10. Connect on a personal level.
Working remotely drives every team toward “atomization of work” and being extremely independent. Although these things can drive efficiency, it is also true that people become more disconnected and isolated, which has a long-term negative effect on productivity and quality. I would therefore encourage leaders to focus all their efforts on connecting with people and teams on a personal level. – Antonluigi Gozzi, LiveHire Ltd.
11. Keep the lines of communication open.
As a leader, your rule should be that team members can call at any time, whether the topic is personal or professional. Whether it is for advice or encouragement, always take calls, for any reason, from your staff. This way, there is no danger of miscommunication, and problems can be tackled head-on. – Stephen Moore, Exabeam
12. Log team decisions in a shared document.
Writing down what decisions were made helps not only remote workers but also those in other time zones to understand why and what the plan is, asynchronously. Also, write what alternatives were considered and why they were not selected. When you can articulate how a decision was made, it helps everyone to align and focus on the task at hand. – Danielle Royston, TelcoDR
13. Leverage email and the cloud.
The power of emails is understated lately, but they still work great. Just make sure all relevant people are cc’ed. We also use Google Docs for collaboration. I’m sure other cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365 would do the same job. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. – Vikram Joshi, pulsd
14. Host virtual happy hours.
Slack has been a great tool during the pandemic. I also make a point of hosting virtual “happy hours” via Zoom at least twice a month so the teams can socialize and bond outside of regular work situations. – Steve Taplin, Sonatafy Technology
15. Delegate meetings to your direct reports.
My life has been made easier by being able to leverage my direct reports to run key meetings. If you are responsible for running every meeting, it takes a huge toll on your time in trying to come up with agendas, running the actual meetings, and creating key takeaways. Outside of my organization-wide call, all my meetings are run by my leaders. It gives them a chance to exercise their leadership muscles. – Pranav Desai, Reputation.com