Remote work helps with productivity and work-life balance, but communication becomes a challenge that team managers need to address. Team leaders should choose a communication channel that best fits the task at hand, setting expectations and usage guidelines for each.
Using remote work for productivity
Remote work increases productivity and reduces stress levels. Employees who spend between 60 and 80 percent of their time working from home get more done, and 82 percent of remote workers that say their stress levels are lower. More companies are adopting this model, and 43 percent of employed Americans say that they have spent time working remotely.
Remote work helps with productivity and work-life balance, but communication is a challenge that team managers need to address. Emails are central to keeping remote team members in touch with each other, but this communication tool can result in lost messages and misunderstandings when there are no best practices in place. Having too many emails to manage can also negatively impact productivity and stress levels.
It is up to the remote team leader to apply the following strategies and create a work environment where email is an efficient method of communication rather than a time-consuming disruption.
Emails are not suitable for everything
If a message is too complex to be conveyed in a short email or if you need an immediate answer to a question, other methods of communication may be more suitable.
Video conferencing is a richer medium to communicate more complex messages with your team. 87 percent of remote workers say this method of communication helps them feel more connected and engaged. A team video conference call will help you save time and prevent miscommunications. A weekly video call could improve team cohesion and reinforce your objectives.
An instant messaging tool can be beneficial if there is a need to coordinate quickly with a team. However, the instantaneous nature of instant messaging can easily become even more disruptive to productivity than emails. Establishing instant messaging guidelines and best practices will allow for quick communications while minimizing distractions.
Phone calls are often overlooked in remote work environment, but a quick call can replace a lot of emailing back and forth. Consider calling a team member if you have some feedback or detailed instructions to share.
Set expectations for email communications
As a team leader, you need to apply a few best practices and state your expectations for email communications. Write a quick guide with best practices for using emails so remote workers have a clear idea of how they are expected to handle communication.
You should state how quickly employees are expected to respond, how they can indicate that a matter is urgent, and how sensitive documents and information should be shared. You could also establish guidelines for sharing updates on one’s work, decide when to CC someone, and define the scenarios where team members can communicate with each other instead of reaching out to the entire team.
The golden rule
If there is one thing to remember about using email efficiently, it is that the messages that you share should be clear and concise. It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to get the gist of the message.
Your opening should be straight to the point, stating the purpose of your message. Structure your message into short sentences and avoid large blocks of text. Front-load the information you would like to share, and use tables or bullet points as necessary to help with organization. Use descriptive keywords in your message so employees can use a search feature to easily find your message again in the future.
End your message by stating your expectations. Let recipients know if you expect them to answer and confirm something or if you expect a follow up at a later date.
Use the right email solution
Using an email management solution designed for remote teams can make a world of difference. SEDNA is an interesting option to consider. This email management solution is a business transaction system for your emails with tagging, filtering, search and collaboration features. You can use this tool to safely share sensitive documents while achieving collaboration and transparency thanks to the shared team inbox feature. Get in touch with us today to find out how our email management solution could change the way your remote team communicates and collaborates.