Communication is involved in all aspects of people’s lives! But as necessary as it is, many people struggle to communicate effectively. And when there is a communication breakdown, everything after that can be a mess.
For entrepreneurs, the majority work from home or in a co-working space. Their communication is much different than working in an office and communicating face to face. And if they are not actively improving communication skills in this fast-paced environment, their business can significantly suffer.
The great news is there are some easy ways to improve communication when working from home quickly. Sara Lingenfelter, the founder of Virtual Biz Partner and online business manager, shares her top 5 tips to help improve communication to be more productive and have an excellent working relationship with remote team members. In her 8+ years online, she’s worked with 100’s of people remotely, and here are 5 tips to improve communication.
Put a communication plan in place
This is just what it says, a plan on how to communicate. It’s about two pages in length and covers the following:
- The business owners office hours as well as the set business hours
- Preferred methods of communication (where team members will and will not communicate)
- Project management and tasks
- Requests and deadlines (confirmation of and expectations)
- Team meetings and check-ins
- Updates on hours worked (generally only if an independent contractor)
- Emergency criteria (the ONLY time to contact outside business hours)
Use Slack (or a similar tool)
Slack provides an easy way to streamline and organize communication. Set up channels based on what is needed for the business. Just remember to outline in the communication plan how it’s to be used. For example, tell the team members that anything project related always be communicated within the project management system, but if needing a quick update, that’s something to ask in Slack. Do NOT be texting, using messenger, and all the other messaging options. Use Slack along with a project management system and email to keep communication organised.
Hold all meetings via video
Zoom serves a few purposes. It keeps people more engaged since you can see what they are doing and talk to them face to face. It helps to keep them focused because you can see each other less likely to “do other things” when on video. It is also easy to share visual aids on this type of call.
Have a virtual “water cooler”
If you ever had a job where you worked in person, think about the times you told stories, asked about someone’s weekend, or shared fun plans you had coming up. To some, this may seem like it wastes time, and yes, too much of it can, but on the flip side, it helps build camaraderie between coworkers. If using Slack, then you can set up a channel just for this purpose. Then be sure you take the lead as the business owner or person in charge to post funny memes, tell a joke, or ask what fun things everyone did over the weekend.
Always be clear and concise
Always re-read what you write before sending and look to be sure it’s clear and concise. And the same with spoken communication, keep it clear and on topic. If you tend to go off topic when talking, then create a simple outline or bullet points of what you want to discuss. If running meetings, always set a time limit and be sure to stay within that time. Time is precious, and you want to stick to the point when running meetings or having check-ins. And in written communication, make sure the person you are messaging would have all info they need to do what you are asking or whatever you send makes sense. Always re-read emails to see if you can take out any unnecessary language, so it’s concise. Who says, hey, I wish I had more long emails to read!