Brad O’Neil: Use the right communication technology to connect remote staff

The rapid growth of remote working is a mark of the changing world of the current century; this is a trend that cannot be ignored by employers.

Organisations are evolving to offer employees the benefits of working remotely, but are often left with concerns about how to keep these individuals engaged and connected without the structure of the traditional centralised systems they are used to.

Here at Evernote, we understand that to keep a remote workforce engaged and connected, employers must think and act differently, and we have compiled some tips on how to do so.

First, avoid poor communication. Remote workers cannot quickly and easily ask the person on the desk next to them to clear up something they do not understand, and so care with communications is integral, particularly with those who are unable to see each other’s face and body language.

It is also important to make sure that each virtual team member understands the importance of seeking clarification or asking a question if something is not clear.

Other practical tips include: having regular meetings with fixed dates, avoiding having meetings without an agenda, letting everyone have their say, and agreeing on a virtual place or platform within which to share information and collaborate.

Next, employers should ensure they are using the right channels.

The best form of communication is face-to-face; however, for remote workers and virtual teams, this is often the hardest thing to facilitate, particularly when employees are separated by geography.

For virtual teams to communicate effectively, they must pick the right channel for the right situation. Failing to do this can harm trust, which in turn erodes a team’s ability to do a job well.

In this context, it is important to remember the hierarchy of communication: face-to-face, video call, call, email, text.

Finally, every communication should be perfectly clear on who is expected to do what, and by when. This clarity will ensure meeting requests, commitments and deadlines will be much easier to manage.

Brad O’Neil is head of people at note-taking app organisation Evernote

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