Benjamin Brandall, a British writer who lives in Latvia, contributed this guest post. Process Street is his blog, where he writes about productivity, startups, and software.
A remote and quiet team is a sign of something’s wrong. Healthy teams share ideas, collaborate openly, and ask for help. Quiet teams are more likely to struggle with miscommunication and become inactive at work. They may even be afraid of speaking freely.
Remote teams will collapse if there is no culture of communication. Your employees are out of the loop without you even realizing it. Context is lost and your employees lose their connection.
Why bother worrying about it?
Remote teams can actually be more productive than those who work in an office 9-5. It’s not accidental. It’s because of special effort to communicate, create culture and build relationships.
Remote workers can feel more isolated, less motivated, and generally less connected to the team that should be united.
Remote teams have more flexibility for adjustment and cooperation than office counterparts. There are many ways to build closer relationships with colleagues and be more communicative and have fun at work.
Based on my experience with remote work, I have compiled 3 ways to encourage free and easy communication among remote teams.
1. Say “Hello!” Even if no one says it, say “Hello!”
The Bystander Effect says that people are less likely to take the first step forward if they are part of a larger group expected to do so.
It’s the someone-else-will-do-it mindset that we tend to overlook.
If you were required to collaborate on a project with another person, you would likely start a conversation with them and try to get to understand them.
Remote teams are often large in nature and members will wait for someone to start the conversation.
If you feel this way, reach out to others even if no one else has.
It’s easy to just say hello and ask the team how they are doing. You’re not only keeping everyone informed, but you encourage conversation and help others reach out.
These are some other ways to spark discussion within your team.
Over-communicate on a public channel
Narrate your work out loud (work out loud).
Before you sign out, please leave a short and simple “goodbye” message.
Everyone wants to be in good terms with one another. It starts with initiative. You can spark things by simply saying hello.
2. Who is your favorite superhero?
It is important to make sure that your new hires feel at ease with the team during the onboarding process.
It may be a good idea to introduce your new member to the entire team, depending on their personality. However, the awkwardness of a person sitting around and not being acknowledged will only increase.
These are three great ways to introduce the new guy/gal to your team.
Arrange for a first meeting via voice/video chat with 2-3 members.
Encourage open communication, questions, and feedback
Ask questions that are fun to gauge the personality of your new member
The 6Q blog offers great advice to diffuse awkwardness. They suggest asking questions like “If there was a superhero, who would it?” Or “Describe your favorite way of relaxing.”
Although it might seem counterintuitive to ask shy people to reveal their personalities, these questions can help set a relaxed tone for the team and encourage relaxed conversations among members.
3. Respect everyone’s quiet time
It is important to build a culture of communication. However, constant Slack messages and emails can prevent you from doing the important work.
Particularly for members who are able to break up work int