Remote Work Skills: 10 Tips for Effective Communication

Remote work is here to stay. So it’s imperative to learn how to communicate effectively as a remote worker on a distributed team.

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Need a few tips to improve your communication skills? You’re in luck! We’ve aggregated 10 tips for effective communication on remote teams in this post. Keep reading.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the remote work policies.
  2. When in doubt, over-communicate.
  3. Keep a collaborative mindset.
  4. Promptly respond to emails, group messages, and phone calls.
  5. Participate in meetings.
  6. Share ideas often.
  7. Make time for casual conversation when appropriate.
  8. Turn on your video, even if you prefer not to.
  9. Connect with colleagues outside of your department from time to time.
  10. Pause notifications to practice self-care and avoid being overwhelmed by team communication. 
remote worker with dual monitors

Familiarize yourself with remote work policies.

On our list of 10 must-know tips to improve communication skills as a remote worker, knowing your employer’s policies is by far the most important. (note: This is especially important if you are beginning a new job.)

When it comes to learning how to communicate as a member of a remote team, start with your employee handbook. Does the distributed team communicate via Slack or another messaging service? Are there policies about the employer’s communication preferences? The answers to those questions can likely be found in your employee handbook or by having a quick video chat with your company’s HR team members.

When in doubt, over-communicate.

Remote team communication can be a difficult terrain to traverse. One way to streamline communication and ensure everyone is on the same page is to over-communicate.

Think about the tools and apps that your employer uses to stay connected. When it’s time to provide updates on a project’s progress, use these tools as multiple channels of communication to convey information to your colleagues. For instance, you can email your team about a project and use your company’s preferred tool for instant messaging to communicate the same information.

By over-communicating, you’ll ensure your team members are on the same page. This form of proactive communication is increasingly important for multigenerational teams that work across different time zones!

Keep a collaborative mindset.

Team collaboration makes a remote workplace possible. So, it’s important to build relationships with your co-workers and practice various communication methods while you collaborate. For instance, ongoing projects may require weekly check-ins. Uncertain how to communicate updates? Ask questions to learn people’s preferences. Then use the appropriate project management tools to keep everyone informed.

Remember, in a remote setting, a collaborative and considerate employee is a valuable team member.

Promptly respond to emails, group messages, and phone calls.

Remote teams depend on effective verbal and written communication among employees. To meet the company’s goals and connect with colleagues, it’s important to work on one’s remote communication skills.

Our advice? Do your best to respond to emails, instant messaging notifications, and calls promptly. By following up with fellow remote workers as soon as you can, you’ll perpetuate an office culture that is conducive to productivity and strong personal relationships. Keeping communication channels open and being responsive shows that you are dedicated to reaching the company’s goals and open to collaborating with the entire team. 

Participate in meetings. 

Team meetings are a part of every workplace – in-person offices, hybrid arrangements, and fully remote organizations alike. 

As a remote worker, participation is a key element in keeping the lines of communication open and can aid in career development as well. So, speak up in virtual meetings, on video calls, and in your next one-on-one session with your supervisor.

If you struggle with shyness, have trouble speaking in group settings, or experience technical difficulties during remote meetings, use available chat platforms to communicate thoughts or questions. Remember, meetings can be opportunities to improve your communication skills and practice connecting with others. 

person looking at bulletin board

Share ideas often.

Does your remote team use Asana or another project management tool to share ideas? Do you have a Slack channel dedicated to brain-dumping solutions to company challenges? 

One of the simplest communication tips we can offer is for you to share your ideas. When you work remotely, you miss the spontaneous opportunities to connect with colleagues that come along with in-person office culture. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate effectively. 

Whenever possible, share ideas! Post your team-building suggestions, personal project goals, and thoughts about virtual happy hours on the appropriate platforms, or share them with your supervisor via email. Most companies encourage employees to help shape the company culture and contribute ideas – so we’re certain that sharing ideas is a great way to make remote working more beneficial for all involved. 

Make time for casual conversation when appropriate. 

In a virtual setting, there are no water cooler conversations or random run-ins with colleagues while on your way to lunch. However, team building is important and everyone can do their part to create a comfortable environment – albeit a virtual one. 

Our advice? Make time to converse casually online and possibly share a work-appropriate meme or two. In a nutshell, treat your colleagues like they’re human – doing so can help quell communication problems and help you learn more about what your co-workers do in their real life. 

Turn on your video, even if you prefer not to. 

Working remotely has its downsides – one being video calls. We get it, zoom fatigue is a thing. However, we encourage remote workers to keep their video streaming during calls. 

Video meetings are the next best thing to meeting someone face to face. When it comes to remote work communication, video meetings can be a rare opportunity to see your colleagues. So, show up and turn your camera on – even if it makes you slightly uncomfortable. Your facial expressions and body language can be used to notify your co-workers that you are listening attentively and that you are enthusiastic about hearing their ideas!

Connect with colleagues outside of your department from time to time. 

When you work on a distributed team, it can be easy to fall into a communication silo – one where you only talk to your immediate team members. And, there’s nothing really wrong with that.

However, we encourage you to connect with others outside of your department occasionally. Does your company list birthdays on a calendar that everyone can see? Wish a colleague you rarely speak to a happy birthday! Or, invite a coworker to a virtual coffee chat just because. 

Pause notifications to practice self-care and avoid being overwhelmed by team communication. 

Communication skills are important especially when it comes to remote work. However, it is equally important to know when to pause communication. 

Feeling overwhelmed? Need to put your head down, throw on some music and crunch some numbers? It might be a good idea to pause notifications for a little while. 

We should be clear – we aren’t encouraging you to ignore work. On the contrary, pausing notifications, temporarily, can help you hone in on what’s most important at the moment. And prioritization is just as important of a skill as effective communication.