Tips and Tools to Effectively Communicating with Your Remote Team

As a boutique firm with three offices across Canada, we experience the many benefits and the challenges that come from communicating with remote teams. When you’re spread across the country, communication becomes even more important.

With more and more teams being remote, there are a number of technologies available to help businesses to be productive, collaborate and communicate no matter where your team is.

We rely on several technologies to help us communicate with our remote teams on a daily basis. It’s important to understand though, that communication apps alone don’t act as a solution to effective communication. Appropriate process and definition, including communication norms around your communication tool kit, are necessary to making online communication successful.

Here’s a look into how our tool kit plays a role in effectively communicating across our remote teams:

Direct Messaging

Informal Daily Communication: Slack

Slack is one of the most widely used apps for connecting teams. We use Slack as our everyday communication tool, whether it be sharing ideas, getting feedback or simply catching up with the team, Slack makes it easy to quickly share with one another and to keep everyone in the loop. With team-specific channels we can keep all those who need to know up to date. Slack for desktop and Slack for mobile make it easy to collaborate with the team wherever they happen to be.

Tip: taking the extra step to personalize Slack and your other communication tools with employee headshots helps those who are remote to feel more engaged, building trust and deeper connections amongst the team.

Formal Daily Communication: Skype for Business (Office 365)

For more formal communications with long, detailed or private information, we use Skype for Business. As part of Office 365, Skype for Business automatically syncs with your Outlook calendar to inform team members weather you’re available or busy.

Video-Conferencing

Nothing kills a team hangout like when you’re about to start a video-conference and your video-conferencing software starts running updates, or isn’t connected to the appropriate speaker, or sound system, or any other potential system obstacle you could encounter. No matter the technology you choose to use, you will never regret preparing in advance for a video-conference.

We always recommend to clients that they start high priority video-conferences an hour before scheduled to avoid having to trouble shoot issues on the spot at the risk of wasting valuable time. Get your video-conference set up an hour before your meeting and test the sound and video, you can also get your remote teams to test the connection on their side. We recommend that guests to the meeting login 15 minutes before to ensure any problems can be resolved prior to the meeting start time.

Team Video-Conferencing: Skype for Business
We use Skype for Business for daily check-points, weekly scrums and other team meetings. Skype for Business allows you to easily screenshare and collaborate on a project. Some good alternatives to Skype for Business for break-out meetings are Google Meet (previously Google Hangouts) and Zoom. All-In Video-Conferencing: GoToMeeting GoToMeeting is primarily used as our external facing video-conferencing tool; however, we also use GoToMeeting for all-in meetings. At our head office in Vancouver, we set up our all-in meetings using Logitech’s Group Conferencing System and Samsung’s Sound Bar. At our remote offices, our teams use a Jabra speaker to improve the sound quality. These additional features to our video-conferencing set-up help online meetings feel easy and like you’re actually in the room with the team members you’re meeting with. We use this set up for informal hangouts where we play games, introduce new team members, or host a ‘Getting to Know You’ where a few people tell stories and share about themselves.