Communicating effectively in the workplace is a critical component of success. Exchanging information and sharing ideas through different media enhances business strategies, allows teams to discuss goals, and keeps everyone updated on current operations. Too often, however, common distractions, meetings, and other time-consuming tasks interfere with essential communications.
Current technologies like instant chats and Zoom calls have improved team communications, whether in person or remote. Miscommunication is still a possibility, however, without the proper tools. The time required to coordinate messages on multiple platforms can add further complications to the challenge of communication.
This blog discusses ways to communicate effectively and remotely with your team using tools that reduce coordination time and help increase productivity.
Workplace Communication Defined
There are two major forms of workplace communication: verbal and nonverbal. Most workplace communications require both:
- Verbal communication employs spoken or written words to express thoughts or share ideas, either face-to-face or via telephone calls, meetings, or emails.
- Non-verbal communication involves other sensory cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, laughter, or even symbols (emojis).
While the importance of verbal workplace communications seems obvious, non-verbal signals can also play a significant role in team discussions. For example, cues like smiling, posture changes, or simply standing can have a big impact on the delivery of a message.
In most discussions, a smile or laugh usually communicates agreement or happiness and signals alignment with other team members. Since non-verbal cues are subjective and open to interpretation, speakers must be careful about the timing and intonation of interjections like laughing or coughing. It’s also important to keep cultural meanings of non-verbal signals in mind, depending on your specific corporate and/or client cultures.
Adjusting your posture, like leaning forward, can express interest in a conversation or signal you have something to add to the discussion. Similarly, leaning back or slouching is easily interpreted as disinterest or disagreement with certain topics.
Standing up at the close of a meeting lets team members know you’ve almost exceeded the designated time, and signals that it’s okay for them to leave and attend to other responsibilities. These social cues help teams communicate clearly, even without words.
Team members in remote settings don’t have the advantage of using additional sensory signals to add context. In-person workers can place emphasis on certain spoken words, or project their voices to convey the importance of something like a deadline with, “I need that report today.”
If a remote worker types a message in all caps, however, or uses excessive exclamation points in a written message, the potential mistranslation of the sender’s intended emphasis could come across as vague negative context where none existed. Typing in exclusively capital letters is widely recognized as the online equivalent of shouting. Excessive use of emojis or exclamation points in business communications can make the sender seem juvenile or inexperienced.
Online communication has made great strides in exchanging subtle pleasantries, thanks to the popularity of emojis and innovations like “raising a hand” or sending a chat during a Zoom meeting. The same tactics fall short of making significant improvements to professional business messages. Teams need innovative solutions to enhance their communication, whether operating remotely, via hybrid model, or in person.
How To Communicate Effectively—And Remotely
Learning how to communicate effectively gives your remote team many advantages, including clear expectations, streamlined conversations, positive team morale, and fewer mistakes caused by miscommunication. To help your team improve their communication efforts, here are some valuable tips.
Know Which Medium To Use
Effective communication involves providing context and having a clear purpose for a message. With context and purpose in mind, team members can determine the proper channel for communicating a message.
For example, before composing a message, ask yourself, if the message requires an immediate response. If so, email would not be appropriate. Instead, an instant messaging application would be a more effective communication tool.
Once you have selected the proper medium for delivery, compose a clear message by using active voice in your sentences. To provide clear expectations and reduce possible miscommunication, keep messages short and to the point.
If a task requires a longer explanation, use email to list details in clear, concise language. Be sure to include required next steps and a date for the task’s expected completion. Lastly, invite the recipient to reply with questions on anything still unclear, and include a polite thank you or other pleasantries to convey a positive tone.
Use Tools that Invite Collaboration
Remote communication relies primarily on email and instant chat messages. Because many employees work in different time zones on various schedules, a simple phone call is not always feasible. Instead, many remote teams employ asynchronous communication as their primary communication mode.
Despite its vital function, email lacks collaborative opportunities when team members use their personal email accounts, or they manage a company email address with a shared login. This kind of disorganization causes uncertainty because team members have no way of knowing who has responded to which email—unless they use a secondary communication channel to confirm such details. Additional cc’ing and forwarding can exacerbate confusion by creating multiple conversations.
The best way to approach email as a remote team and improve communication is by using a shared inbox. Shared inboxes provide one location from which teams can manage company email addresses. Ths system increases transparency and keeps every team member on the same page. More importantly, many digital solutions allow managers to assign email conversations to specific members so they can hold that person accountable for the response.
Gmelius, a communication and collaboration tool for Gmail, offers a collaborative shared inbox for Gmail that gives teams the following advantages:
- Clear accountability for teams regardless of location
- Email delegation to hold team members accountable
- Centralized communication in one location
- Limited need for cc’ing and forwarding
- Improved response times
Gmelius lives inside your Gmail inbox and includes powerful features to enhance your communications. Users can compose personal email notes in side margins, @mention team members, and set statuses—simultaneously—for clearer communication. These features also provide additional context for assigned emails to eliminate further questions that can delay focused work.
Embed additional meaning in your emails by labeling them as high or low priority to signal an expected response time. Piggyback a follow-up message via chat application to ensure your email is addressed promptly. Gmelius simplifies this step by integrating Slack into Gmail for streamlined communication. Teams can respond to emails in Slack or vice versa to help teams communicate even faster without having to switch between applications.
Use Visual Elements to Communicate Messages
Workplace communication inevitably includes some project management. And such projects often involve lengthy details too cumbersome for email. To communicate effectively regarding detailed tasks or projects, consider implementing visual project management solutions. You’ve likely heard, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Imagine having the power to compress all the details of a project or email into one simple visual to facilitate your communication efforts.
Organizing tasks visually presents a solution that makes complex ideas easy to understand. More importantly, your team can follow the organized visual structure more easily, too.
With Gmelius, teams can create Kanban boards from inside their Gmail inbox, turning shared company inboxes or Gmail labels into visual workspaces.
Organize tasks clearly into columns to assign them to individual team members, and then create sub-tasks, priority levels, and tags for implementation with each task. This visual layout allows teams to see how a project is progressing without requiring any additional communication channels. Every detail lives in one place for clarity, transparency, and easy navigation.
Effective communication in the workplace can build positive relationships across an organization. As new challenges for remote operations continue to emerge, organizations must ensure their teams know how to communicate effectively and remotely. Sharpening these communication skills gives teams an advantage for withstanding new challenges, and provides a solid foundation for building on their successes into the future.
When researching how your team can communicate effectively and remotely, consider a communication and collaboration platform like Gmelius. Check out our features and integrations and learn how Gmelius is built to improve team communication and collaboration. Ready to get started? Sign up today!