Remote team communication guide. 20 tools to use.
When you first consider working remotely or hiring remote workers, communication may not be on your ‘worry’ list. After-all, there’s text, email, Whatsapp, and thousands of other communication tools out there. We as a society have become more connected than ever before. While these tools are great for our personal life, they can be a nightmare for business. The biggest problems that most remote teams have typically boil down to communication problems.
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Communication problems facing remote teams.
A study on the State of Remote Work asked remote workers, what their biggest struggles were with working remotely. 44 Percent of people stated that they struggled with communication in one way or another. The 44% was made up of the following answers: 19% said loneliness, 17% collaboration/or communication, and 8% being in a different timezone than teammates. Remote teams do not see each other everyday and can get lonely, have difficulty collaborating, and difficulty with different working hours. We have put together some tips on managing remote team communication and some of our favorite tools to use.
Problems and solutions for remote team communication.
1. Loneliness when working remotely.
Remote workers often face a lack of social communication and can begin to feel isolated or lonely. The factors that make social communication difficult when working remotely include different time-zones, lack of face-to-face time, and less time for social interactions.
Tips on avoiding loneliness for remote workers.
A. Schedule meetings that include everyone a few times a month. Most remote teams struggle with time differences and different schedules. Try to schedule meetings that include everyone and allows for social banter. The company doesn’t always have to be the subject of discussion. Let your team get to know one another and get everyone involved.
B. Invest in company trips. Nothing builds bonds like spending time with each other in person. Company trips allow remote teams to get to know each other and will help bring your team closer together. The results of these trips will show even when your team goes back to working remotely. Again, make these trips about the team and not just the company!
C. Schedule virtual social challenges or create a fun board. Remote communication can become all about work and forget about the fun. Create fun challenges or a channel for social chat only. Give your employees a place online to share fun things and socialize with each other.
2. Bad work scheduling.
One of the greatest benefits of hiring remote workers is getting the best talent from around the world. This also brings the challenge of dealing with many different time-zones. The solution to dealing with time differences is to overlap scheduling for certain teams and use collaboration tools. Team members that will be working together should have overlapping schedules that allow for online time together. This will help eliminate problems. Using collaboration tools will help your team stay organized while working on projects.
3. Using the wrong collaboration/communication tools.
One of the most common mistakes companies make when going remote is not choosing the right communication tools. It is very easy to start using text, Whatsapp, non-company email address, and other everyday communication tools. This mistake often leads to huge and potentially door-closing problems. It is important to get organized in the beginning and choose the right communication tools. Some problems that come with using the wrong tools include:
A. Sensitive information can be lost, shared, or deleted by accident or if an employee leaves. Allowing employees to share information via personal communication methods can be a potential liability. This is perhaps the biggest reason to ensure that work from home employees are using your company’s communication tools.
B. Time can be lost searching for conversations and information. Having your communication spread-out can create problems with finding key information and recalling conversations. Keeping your conversations in one place allows you to find conversations. Most tools built for remote teams allow you to search and save key messages.
C. Project flow is greatly decreased as organization is not at its best. The lack of organization with using random methods of communication will hinder your teams ability to collaborate. There are many wonderful tools for collaboration that will help boost productivity and organize projects.
D. Team members may get left out of key conversations. If your team members are using different tools for communication, it will make it difficult to ensure that everybody is included in key conversations. Using a specific tool for communication will help make sure everybody sees key messages. Many tools include a message board and shared scheduling.
20 Tools for remote working and work from home communication.
We have compiled a list of 20 useful communication tools that are perfect for remote teams. There are affiliate links on this page.
Emails are one of the most important communication tools for remote teams and teams in general. Using personal emails or outdated tools is risky. Here are some great email tools for remote teams:
1. Gmail (G Suite)
Google’s G Suite is more than just a great email service. G Suite has many useful tools such a drive, docs, slides, hangouts, calendar, and more that all are made to work with Gmail. If you like Google’s tools, then G Suite is the perfect solution for your business. Pricing Plans: Free – $6 – $12 – $25
2. Outlook (Office 365)
If you and your team prefer using Microsoft products such as their calendar, office apps, and Microsoft Teams, then you might want to go with their email service. This will make support and management much easier. Pricing Plans: $5 – $8.25 – $12.50
3. Zoho Mail
Zoho has a huge selection of amazing products for businesses that seems to always be growing. One of these great tools is Zoho Mail. Zoho Mail comes with a great scheduling tool and many other products that rival G Suite at a great price. Pricing Plans: Free – $1 – $3 – $4
If you plan on using an array of products and value security. ProtonMail is a Swiss based mail service that puts security as one of their main priorities. They also have a really great app for Apple, Android, and a Web Version. Pricing Plans: Free – $6.25 mo/paid annually – $8 monthly.
Video and voice calling tools.
5. Google Hangouts
If you are already using Google or if you are looking for a great free and easy way to video chat with your team, you might want to try Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts allows you to call a phone, video chat, or simply chat with many people at once. Pricing Plans: – Free or included in G Suite Plans: $6 – $12 – $25 per month/per user.
Perhaps one of the most well-known video conferencing tools is Skype. Skype is a great platform that is used internationally and has affordable unlimited plans for calling international phone numbers. Pricing Plans: – Free conference calls or pay for phone calls starting at $2.99 per month.
Zoom is becoming very popular and is a tool that many teams are using for sales and support calls. Zoom has affordable plans and some unique add-ons. They have a free plan that you can try before committing. Pricing Plans: – Free – $14.99 – $19.99 /mo/host
8. Owl Labs
For companies that may be using offices, conference rooms, and still have remote employees; Owl Labs is most likely the best solution. Owl Labs has their own software and devices for remote meetings. Pricing Plans: Systems starting at $799 – $6,499
9. Zoho Meetings
Zoho has an amazing suite of tools for business communication. Zoho Meetings is an amazing tool that works seamlessly with all of their other tools. If you are looking for one company to use for all your tools, Zoho is a great one stop shop. Pricing Plans: $8 – $63 mo depending on how many attendees.
10. Cisco Webex
Webex is another well-known tool for connecting teams and hosting remote conferences. If you are already using Cisco products or looking for a well established option, this is a good option. Pricing Plans: Free – $13.50 – $17.95 – $26.95 per mo/per host.
Bluejeans is one-touch, audio, and web conferencing system that works from any endpoint or device. They have some cool add-ons like custom branding and IP VPN integration. Pricing Plans: $12.49 – $16.66 host/mo.
Remote team chat tools.
12. Cliq by Zoho
Adding to Zoho’s endless solutions is Cliq by Zoho. Cliq is their team collaboration tool that allows you to create channels, organize, and keep track of your team’s communication. Pricing Plans: Free – $0.90 – $2.70/user/month.
13. Microsoft Teams
If you are using Outlook or Office 365, you may want to consider Microsoft Teams. Microsoft teams are free to use or come with Office 365 bundles. If you are thinking about purchasing Office 365, you may want to consider using Teams. Pricing Plans: Free – $5 – $12.50 – $20 user/month.
Slack has gained popularity with their free version and incredible platform. With Slack’s paid plans you can get many integrations with huge names, face-to-face voice/video calls, and more. Pricing Plans: Free – $6.67 – $12.50 /mo
Facebook has joined the business communication industry with Workplace. Workplace actually is a smooth platform and has some great features such as auto-translate, video calls, and more. Pricing Plans: Free – $4 – $8 /per user/mo
TeamWork is a really great organizational and collaboration platform. If your remote team is mostly collaborating on projects and needs organization, then this is a great one to use. Pricing Plans: Free – $9 – $15 /per user/mo
Flock is a great all-in-one type platform that has a really nice/easy to use interface. Flock also has over 50 integrations tools like Google Drive, Asana, and other business tools. Pricing Plans: Free – $ 4.50 – $8 /month
Fleep is growing in popularity and for a reason. They have a really easy to use platform, tons of integrations, and really useful features. Pricing Plans: Free – 5 Euros /per user/mo
Blink has tons of features including a great hub, feed, micro-apps, search, messaging, and more. You can also get employee feedback (something important for remote teams) using one of their micro-apps. Pricing Plans: $3.40 /per person/mo/paid annually.
If you are looking to tie your remote teams communication together with your customer engagement efforts, then Rocket.Chat is the perfect tool. Rocket.Chat is a great tool used by some big brands. Pricing Plans: Free – $3 /user/mo – $30 /user/yearWe hoped you enjoyed this article. If you did, please share it! We work hard to bring you great content! By the way; which communication tools do you use for your business? Tell us in the comments!