Seven guidelines for successful remote working communication

The guidelines for remote working communication

Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

Modern business means modern working practices. Just under 15% of the UK workforce — 4.2 million people — now work from their homes, cafes or shared remote workspaces. Remote working promotes creativity and flexibility. It rewards employees with the freedom to work in the environment that suits them best, while generating more productivity in the workplace. But what is the key to success? The Big C: remote working communication.

Why choose remote working?

With the availability of stable, secure digital platforms and lightning-fast network connectivity, there is little reason for everyone to work together in one place, every day. Remote working is a popular means to give flexibility to your workforce, making them feel valued and energised. The freedom to work remotely reduces the pressure of commuting, giving more time to work, and less to travel. What’s more, it helps companies choose from a global workforce, sourcing the best people for the job without the hefty financial burden of having to relocate staff.

Historically, traditional businesses were against remote workspaces or flexible working cultures. Some argued that communication would suffer, staff would be unavailable at key hours in the working day, or they would feel isolated and disconnected from the business. Others raise security concerns or a fundamental lack of trust in their employees, which begs the question: why employ staff you don’t trust in the first place?

“Being remote actually allows you to practice intentional and thoughtful communication far more. Own this skill and let it be a second nature to you.”
Liz van Dijl, VP of Business Services at Percona

The likes of Microsoft, Google and other forward-thinking technology companies saw the early benefits of remote workspaces. Such businesses are generally appealing to work for and have opened our eyes to attracting and retaining the best employees in the marketplace. Improved digital communication and technology financing, however, have made more traditional companies such as banks, law firms and accountants weigh up the advantages of a remote workforce.

So how do these companies ensure their staff remain energised and informed while working from flexible locations? Below are seven guiding principles to successful remote working communication:

1. Harness technology

Email is gradually being phased out of business operations, considered unwieldy, unreliable and inconsistent. Businesses are turning to flexible programmes, apps and platforms for project management and communication.

The principal rule here is continuity. Choose one platform that meets your end-to-end business requirements, and stick to it. Otherwise, your staff will be trying to communicate on so many channels for different functions, they will communicate with nothing but their computer.

The vast range of platforms for project sharing and messaging includes Slack, Twist, Hipchat, Google Hangouts and LiveChat. Slack is most popular with more than 1.5 million paying users, while is Twist is marginally easier to use and is moving fast up the user ranks.

2. Prioritise file sharing

After choosing a technologically-advanced platform for managing projects, progress and communication, the next priority is a transparent file sharing method.

Ensure shared documents are accessible to all stakeholders, and can be updated in an open platform. The choice is yours from Google Drive, Dropbox, Easyfile and iCloud. Again, consistency is the key. Adopt one file sharing method for everyone and stick to it.

3. Set clear objectives

As a remote worker or a business employing staff in different locations, knowing what is expected from start to finish is essential to successful remote working communication.

Tasks and objectives should be clearly defined, and set around completion dates and output rather than timeframes and hours spent.

4. Choose a time zone

If you’re an international business or global employer, it is advisable to choose a standard business timezone to work from. This is not from a physical perspective — it is impossible for all staff to work in one time zone — but a business standard for communication continuity.

Take this time zone into account when scheduling remote meetings so workers clearly understand the appropriate time for their location.

5. Separate work and rest time

Contrary to popular belief, remote workers spend more hours working, not less. Setting clear boundaries for work and pleasure helps alleviate stress and burnout. Also, don’t forget there are times when a good old chat on the phone is the quickest way to communicate and solve issues.

6. Add face-to-face communication

Arranging meetings through Skype or a similar system adds all-important body language to a business conversation, increasing transparency and human engagement. If possible, regular physical meet ups will give your day-to-day digital communication a personal twist and allow teams to work more closely while operating remotely.

7. Have a weekly web meeting

TED Talks, the media organisation known for spreading knowledge through online talks, leads the way with its remote working communication practices. Employees have a standard web meeting every week with their co-workers. The meeting is consistently the same time, on the same day to discuss everything from business progress and projects to birthdays, holidays and social matters. They focus on keeping their interactions light hearted with themes, disguises or costumes, fostering closer team building and more open communication.

Overall, the benefits of a remote workspace and a flexible workforce are numerous — happy, valued staff, greater business output, and better heads for the job. The key to making it successful, however, is smooth remote working communication, promoting more productivity in the workplace.

Up Next

Event organiser's guide to booking meeting rooms

Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

Over the last 18 months, Workplace has become a well-received venue for meetings and training course in Manchester. We have previously operated Business Hotels and so it felt natural to open our internal meeting space to the outside world and not just to members. Initially, we believed that this would be on a short-term basis and that the meeting space would soon be let as office space. How wrong we were! Hiring out meeting space has turned out to be a great fit with the shared workspace provisions, and has since become a core part of our business strategy.

To discover why meeting rooms are in such high demand in Manchester, we set out to speak to 50 meeting room organisers and learn more about their top 5 criteria is when searching for a venue.

1. Service that starts right at the enquiry

One noticeable gripe amongst the meeting room organisers was a lack of communication. Many people talked about telephoning a venue to enquire about availability, only to be left feeling frustrated by the length of time it took to hear a response. Often, such professionals are busy and need to get a tick in the box to say they have organised the event, they don’t want the job to be hanging over them waiting for venue availability.

“Everything from the initial enquiry through to invoicing after the event should be handled smoothly and efficiently. The venue needs to be central, contemporary and offer relaxed surroundings in which to conduct meetings.”

2. Location, location, location

A key factor is organising any successful off-site meeting is the location. It’s true, central Manchester is home to many meeting rooms and event spaces, but the challenge is finding a space that is conveniently located near rail links and parking. This was something that organisers agreed can add pressure to event organisation.

3. Design and Wow factor

Surprisingly the style and design of the venue ranked very highly in meeting room criteria. For in-house events this makes people feel good about taking the time out and for external events, people told of how the venue would sometimes dictate as to whether a person would book on a course and invest time and money. They also said that no matter how good the course was if attendees are not happy with the venue they can struggle to enjoy the content.

4. The price and hidden costs associated with hiring meeting rooms

It is especially important when organising an event, that all costs are transparent, honest and free of hidden charges. Many event organising spoke of surprises on bills for charges they did not expect such as the cost of hiring equipment or extra coffee. One all inclusive price was what most people wanted as they had to stick to a certain budget once agreed.

5. Good Booking terms

“Pleasant environment, flexible terms. Recommended!”

One meeting room organiser spoke of an event that was confirmed with a venue in Manchester, the event had to be cancelled 6 months but they were still changed 25% of the room cost, another told of booking an event and having to cancel it the day after it had been confirmed and being charged full costs. Everyone understood the need for cancellation charges but some felt that often these were not thought out or justifiable

Meetings and event are a huge investment and all of the above will add to a better return on investment for everyone concerned both in terms of money and productivity.

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