As we all know, the world of work is becoming increasingly remote-friendly and even remote-first. Whereas working from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was seen as a luxury, today it’s become a necessity.
Thankfully, given the advances of technology, digitalization, and the shift to a more knowledge-based economy, hybrid and remote work are now more realistic for employers.
Nowhere has this shift been more prevalent than in the tech industry, primarily among engineering teams. In fact, even pre-pandemic, a report by Owl Labs found that the industries with the highest number of remote workers were healthcare (15%), technology (10%), and financial services (9%). This trend has only continued upwards.
One of the challenges this shift to remote work has unearthed, however, is that of asynchronous communication. Unlike face-to-face interactions where communication takes place in real time, asynchronous communication is when one person provides information, and then there is a time lag before the recipient takes in the information and responds.
While communications might not be explicitly written out as part of an engineer’s job responsibilities, knowing how to communicate effectively and efficiently is crucial in this age of remote work.
At Factored, we are predominantly remote-first. We have engineers in different parts of the Americas, so mastering remote team communication is key. Here are our top tips for communicating effectively when everyone is working remotely.
7 Tips to Improve Remote Team Communication
1. Have regular check-ins so you know what everyone is working on and what their priorities are.
Establishing communication norms sets very clear expectations of all your team members. Maybe you have a standing company-wide meeting monthly, a team meeting weekly, and one-on-one meetings on an as-needed basis.
Or maybe you have a project management tool (more on that later) where everyone can see what everyone else is working on at any given time, and others can collaborate accordingly.
2. Avoid micromanagement at all costs.
No one likes to be constantly checked in on or asked how a project is progressing. You hired these people because you trust in the quality of the work they can produce, right? Therefore, if something is still being worked on within a reasonable time frame, trust that it will get done—and don’t pester.
This applies to your forms of communication too. If you send a message on Slack, for example, there’s no need to follow up via email and in the project management tool too.
3. Display and foster trust among everyone on the team.
This piggybacks on our last point: Trust in your people. This not only ensures that no one is overbearing, but also that every team member knows which jobs are being done, when they’re due, and who they’ll need to collaborate with and/or report to.
4. Make use of remote collaboration tools.
Tools like Slack, Monday.com, AirTable, Trello, Notion, Asana, Zoom, Jira and others can all help facilitate remote team communication. Choose whatever works best for your team—just make sure you have everyone’s buy-in.
5. Communicate clearly and directly.
…but always in a friendly tone. Sometimes, in our efforts to be efficient, we use fewer words to communicate—but this can come across as direct, short, or lead to misinterpretation. This is why it’s important that we communicate as clearly as possible, no matter the medium!
6. If you’re unsure, ask!
If you’re unsure about what someone is working on or what their priorities are, never hesitate to ask. This can help maintain your company-wide value of clear, direct communication. After all, if you don’t know how others’ tasks will affect your own workload, you can’t properly prepare to tackle them.
7. Ensure there is some time zone overlap.
As we’ve mentioned before on the blog, engineering teams are more productive when operating in a similar time zone—something we here at Factored have personally found to be true. That’s because real-time communication is even more important for remote teams, as it allows for real-time collaboration and feedback.
Remote work doesn’t have to be a scary prospect. With a little planning, effective communication, and the use of the right tools for your business, communicating with and motivating your team when you don’t live in the same area can be a breeze.
It’s really as simple as prioritizing your team communication—including methods, styles, tools, and expectations. That way, everyone can get and stay on the same page without feeling like they’re out of the loop or unsure how they should be communicating with others.
Book a meeting with Factored to build your expert, remote-first data science team today.