The Insiders’ Guide to Employee Communications

By Poppulo

Table of Contents

Communication tips for managing remote teams

2020 will go down as the year when workplace predictions made in January were blown out of the water in February.

The shift towards remote working made some if not all prediction lists in the early days of 2020 like it had done in previous years, but nobody could have foreseen that within weeks much of the world would be forced into suddenly working from home due to a contagious respiratory virus.

Covid-19 hit, and profoundly changed the world of work, perhap forever.

But prior to the pandemic, technological advances, instant communication capability, high-cost urban living, big commutes, desire for better family-work life balance, were all high factors that led to an explosion in the levels of remote working.

Working flexibly and remotely had already become more the norm than the exception, but is now set to be the new reality that organizations everywhere, of all sizes, will have to adjust and adapt to.

If you have a remote workforce or are considering implementing more flexible working, what do you need to do or consider to keep your remote employees engaged? One of your top priorities must be having a very clearly thought out communications strategy focused on keeping your remote people connected, engaged, and not feeling distant from, or forgotten by, HQ.

As the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted, remote working can bring lots of challenges, with feelings of loneliness, issues around mental wellbeing, motivation, and disconnection from the business.

These are significant challenges that employers need to fully embrace and address in the new work reality.

Here are six tips to inform that journey – and at the end of this section we include some helpful resources in addition to these:

Understand how remote workers work

Having a deep understanding of others allows for mutual trust, better communication, and effective working. Spending time talking to and getting to know your remote workforce is therefore critical. Find out and understand:

  • What their role entails and how they work best.
  • Where they work, e.g. from home, on the road regularly visiting customers, production line.
  • What challenges they face.
  • Their preferred communication channels (and whether there’s a communication gap that needs filling, e.g. mobile app for news and information on-the-go).

Seeking to understand their work needs and challenges will inform how best to connect, involve, and enable two-way communication with them in order to help them do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Ensure your tools are geared for remote working

You could have the best employees on the planet for a remote working role, but if they’re not given the right tools to do the job, how can they be expected to deliver results? It’s vital that the support of IT and an appropriate telecoms infrastructure is in situ to ensure that there is a ready-to-go two-way communication channel between the team leader, the team and all the supporting collateral that may be required. Poppulo’s mobile app is an excellent way of opening and maintaining that all-important information flow with remote workers.

Keep communication open and inclusive

Feeling isolated, disconnected or excluded is commonplace for colleagues who work away from the main company offices. A culture of thoughtful inclusion needs to be instilled if the benefits of remote working are to be realized. It’s not difficult (or expensive!) to stay connected, it just takes active thought and then it’ll become the way you do things.

Make inclusion and collaboration the norm

  • Ensure everyday communication channels are easy for the remote worker to access and use, to stay informed. Depending on their role and working needs, especially since almost everyone has a mobile phone these days, communication platforms and channels, like Poppulo, that are mobile friendly work well.
  • Treat them as you would office-staff and make them feel part of the company by ensuring they have branded materials like calendars, mugs, pens to reinforce their sense of belonging. Send out desk-drops, company magazines and anything that office staff might receive to their home address.
  • Ensure town halls, team meetings, and one-to-one meetings are inclusive. Maximize technology with video conferencing and webinars. Upskill line managers to be confident communicators and informed company advocates. Be mindful of time – consider when best to hold the meeting and how long it lasts, for maximum attendance and engagement.
  • Actively involve and encourage participation from remote workers in virtual meetings with good chairing, open questions and participative activities like polls and question forums.
  • Encourage others to leverage and include the knowledge of remote workers. Use online collaboration and communication tools to encourage inclusivity. There are some great free tools out there like Slack, Trello, Google, Chanty and many others.

Build personal connections

There is nothing more powerful than a personal touch. Remote workers need this more than most because their day-to-day interactions with colleagues can be more limited. Knowing somebody has thought of you and made an effort to connect with you goes a very long way to boosting morale, engagement, and loyalty in the remote worker world.

Remote workers especially want contact with their line manager, but whether you’re their line manager or colleague, make the effort to get to know each other and place value on the time to talk about non-work related topics. It will build trust, reduce conflict and even allow better knowledge sharing if you do. We know that employees are much less likely to leave an organization if they have respect for their line manager and strong friendships at work.

Remember birthdays and key personal events like work anniversaries. Mark these dates and events in a diary so you can send a card, and even share a post on your social network too, to celebrate on the right day.

Set clear objectives

Setting clear expectations on performance, attitude and behavior should be the company standard for all employees, regardless of where they work. Interestingly though, having clear objectives and expectations agreed upon is something remote workers value highly.

With the more physical disconnect from the main office environment and corporate communications, having objectives aligned to the business provides a constant reminder of the value they add to the company. Objectives become a critical anchor to feeling valued. This anchor does rely on good line management and thus communication training and support for line managers. The provision and access to relevant company communications is essential to engaging remote workers and supporting them in achieving their objectives.

Recognize and reward

Recognizing and rewarding good performance and positive outcomes is a really important way to make remote workers feel valued, included and part of the company’s success. It will instill a focus on high performance rather than presenteeism, and will further boost morale and reduce turnover.

Reward and recognition can come in the form of awards, thank you cards, peer-to- peer recognition, a team celebration or acknowledgment of success, to name a few ideas. Ensure that corporate communications like intranet stories and magazine articles reflect the lives and business impact of remote workers to further showcase their value and build inclusion.

To sum up the engagement of remote workers, it requires the capitalization of both technology and humanity with thoughtfulness and understanding to truly leverage all the benefits that this fast-growing employee population has to offer to the working world.

Here is a helpful list for managing and communicating with work-from-home employees

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