If you work remotely, or you’re thinking about working remotely, communication is key. Here at Social INK we’re a completely distributed and remote team and have been since late 2016. One thing we’ve relied on is our selection of remote working communication tools. But over the years, these have changed and evolved.
In this article, we’re looking back at the platforms we’ve used, what we are currently working with and why these have been so important for us as a team, and also for our clients. We think client communication is more important than internal communication. The truth is, everyone should be connected.
With technology today, it’s never been easier to stay connected, no matter where you are. WiFi is readily available in public places. 4G has made the smartphone more connected than ever before. And now, most people now own a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone. There are no more excuses as to communication issues.
Remote Working Communication Tools
We started using Slack back in 2016 as a great platform for both internal and external communications. Our clients could reach the team, and our team could share internally with each other, within specific channels, so as we could find any previous conversations easily and quickly. For about 18 months, Slack was our remote working communication platform of choice. But, things change, organisations evolve, and requirements shift.
In 2018, we started using Google Chat to help us with all our internal remote working communication. We use G Suite for business, and as such, we had access to this great tool, at no additional cost. We are so reliant on the G Suite platform, for email, calendars and conference calls (Google Meet is awesome) that it made sense to try. Now Google Chat was awesome, but it wasn’t quite what we wanted as a platform. It’s too much like the old chat rooms (those who remember dial-up probably know what I mean). After a certain amount of time, the content is simply lost and forgotten and no one wants to go scrolling back up for 30 minutes to find something. It was time to move on.
If you haven’t heard of Workplace, it’s part of Facebook. Basically, it creates a mini private Facebook network of your own for your business. Each team member has a profile and can post on the network. We then have groups where we can post content and discuss which is all threaded in the same way as Facebook is. This makes finding something so much easier, including the handy search bar. It also has a chat system built in, and again, teams can be arranged as needed so as everyone has access to the chats they need.
We’ve only been working on Workplace for about 3 months, but so far so good. We’re liking it more than the previous platforms. Our needs, probably like most companies, are often changing, and we don’t mind trying new platforms to see if they’re worthwhile.
Other Practical Apps for Remote Working Communication
Our last line of defence is always WhatsApp. It’s not our main point of contact with each other, and it’s not our platform of choice for client communication, but invariably, Whatsapp does get used. It allows us to easily check in with each other, share pics, links and screenshots as needed. It’s great when you’re on the move and just need to send that quick message.
I mentioned earlier how reliant we are as an organisation on G Suite. That includes Google Calendar. For us, and all our clients, we believe G Suite offers a fantastic solution, not just for email, but for shared documents, collaborative work, user management and especially calendar management. When you’re working remotely, keeping your team up to date on your movements, out of office days, holidays and meetings is imperative. If it’s not in the calendar, did it ever really happen?
We tend to lean more towards Google Meet now, but Zoom.us is still an amazing tool and we continue to rely on it, albeit in a slightly different way now. Zoom allows you to host video and audio conference calls, as well as webinars. Now, we don’t often talk about webinars anymore, but Zoom links with Facebook live too, meaning a multiple person video conference can easily be streamed live on Facebook.
How Important Is Remote Working Communication?
For us, communication is key to success. We are all located in different parts of the UK. Three to four times a year we meet in person for a face to face catch up. The rest of the time, we’re in constant communication online.
Between Workplace and its chat features, there hasn’t been a day go by where the team aren’t involved with one another. It’s not all work chat either. Just like in an office where you would expect some banter and so quippy repartee, our online channels build friendships within our team.
We may not have the cliched watercooler to stand around and chat, but asking each other if you had a good weekend goes a long way. I’ve always encouraged everyone that’s worked with us at Social INK, since 2008, to get involved. There’s nothing worse than working in an environment where everyone is siloed and disconnected, especially when working remotely.
5 Tips for Successful Remote Working Communication
- Communicate a lot and often.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not all work related. It’s so important to create a team spirit and atmosphere in any organisation, regardless if it’s remote or not.
- Make it easy.
If your team members can communicate easily, they will. It’s as simple as that. Choose a platform, bring everyone in, make sure they can all access it easily (via a web browser, tablet, smartphone etc). The easier it is, the more likely they are to use it.
- The more collaborative the better.
Make sure your team members can work together on a project easily. Using project management software to know who is responsible for each task, and then the ability to work together on the project, via Google Docs, Sheets or Slides for example.
- Be inclusive.
There’s nothing worse than feeling left out. No one likes to feel left out. The same is true when it comes to communicating with your team online. Bring everyone into your platforms. Have a company-wide channel to share good news and to show appreciation. Make sure everyone, no matter their role, feels like part of the team.
- Have fun.
If you were in the office, you wouldn’t be shy to crack a joke, tell a story or share something that happened to you that day. Why would that change just because you work remotely? Make sure your remote working communication is fun and who you really are. Throw in a gif or two, we do and it usually puts a smile on our faces.
Still only considering remote working? Here are some of the benefits of remote working that you could be missing out on.