When working in a remote job, great communication is the rule, rather than the exception. With a wide variety of communication tools available for virtual settings, remote companies can set their teams up for success by promoting communication with and among their employees.
In a traditional office, organizations have regular team and organizational-wide meetings. This should be no different in a remote working environment. Regular organization-wide conference calls (or video calls for smaller companies) are imperative to keep everyone in the loop. Monthly or semi-monthly "stand ups" are a great time to recognize company and employee achievements and relay any important information.
Just as important as team meetings, are regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings between management and remote staff. Checking in on employee morale, goals, and any issues can keep even the most introverted remote worker engaged and allow for discussions about goals and expectations on a regular basis.
Many remote companies promote daily or weekly virtual coffee breaks, either as a group or simply one-on-one fifteen-minutes video calls between colleagues who don't usually interact or aren't on the same team. Because there isn't a shared break room or water cooler, this gives more opportunities for everyone to get to know one another outside of structured meetings.
One of the coolest communication perks of working for a remote company are fabulous retreats, which many offer annually, for actual face-to-face time, live work sessions, and socializing with coworkers from all around the world. These great in-person events usually involve team-building and other structured activities to allow for collaboration and simply getting to know one another.
Successful remote job communication requires the right tools for the conversations. Different tools such as message forums, emails, texts, instant messengers, video calls, and shared documents should all be available and utilized by all for different types of communication.
Rather than send an organization-wide email with the most recent notes from a team meeting, these should live in a shared folder for anyone to access when they can, rather than fill up everyone's inboxes. A quick, clarifying question to a team member is best via instant messaging, while an ongoing discussion should be conducted in a message forum. Management needs to clarify the correct communication and collaboration tools to use for each type of communication in order to respect everyone's time, especially when employees are working in various time zones and schedules.
Assume the Best
Remote jobs require all team members to be good writers, readers, and listeners. However, even more importantly, it is important to ask for clarification and assume good intentions over malice when communicating virtually. Without being able to rely on body language or social cues, it is important to reach out to coworkers via phone or video calls to see if context was missed or if there is a misunderstanding.
Organizational leaders are the top of the communication chain in remote companies and set the standard of great communication, defined roles and expectations, and show transparency to the entire company. From the top down communication, and even over-communicating, is key to a remote worker happiness and a successful distributed company.