In this article, we will mainly focus on how we manage to never lose track of our work despite being all over the world and operate seamlessly with no performance issues.
#1. Building relationships and trust
To bond faster and achieve better results as a team, you need to interact with other teammates personally daily or weekly. When you do not communicate effectively, it takes much longer to trust each other.
Lack of time spent together makes adjusting to your teammates’ communication styles, personality types, and work preferences more challenging. Thus, difficulty building relationships and trust in the team becomes one of the main remote work communication problems, leading to communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and decreased productivity.
Speaking from personal experience, that has never been an issue at aqua. When I joined the company back in March, I was nervous about the adaptation process. But from the first hours and days, I’ve always felt like I’ve been working here for years, feeling that support and warmth from the team. During these three months, my relationships with my teammates only improved, which relies on several factors.
Here are some steps we take to build strong relationships at aqua:
- We encourage team bonding activities like online team-building games or social events, especially on Fridays
- Our team establishes regular communication channels, including team meetings, group chats, and product updates
- aqua team minimises micromanagement by not using any time-tracking tool and letting the team members choose their own deadlines
- We focus on transparency and honesty in all communication to build trust
- We foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration where everyone can share their opinions, feedback, and concerns
#2. Different time zones
Living in different time zones is also one of the remote company communication challenges due to several reasons. In case of huge time differences, there is only a small window to communicate in real time. It also leads to delayed responses if one team member sends a message while the other is offline. Furthermore, scheduling meetings can become an issue due to time zones, as some team members might be unable to join them.
In aqua, our marketing team comprises 6 members living in 5 different timezones. The average time difference in the company is around 2-3 hours, and one of our teammates, Maria, is working from the USA a time difference of 11 hours. Still, we are facing next to no communication problems with the team.
As a multinational company where the employees are distributed worldwide, here is how we tackle time zone differences:
- Set expectations for communication: We establish clear communication protocols that ensure all team members know each other’s availability and response times. Everyone respects their teammates’ availability from other time zones and does their best not to disturb them outside their working hours.
- Use communication tools: We utilise project management tools to communicate when team members are unavailable in real time.
- Have fixed meeting times that suit everyone: We have daily and weekly meetings that fit all team members’ availability.
#3. Connecting different teams
Dealing with communication problems within a team is one thing; managing various teams working on the same project is whole another. In remote work, it is harder to keep communication smooth, especially when it is common for these teams to have misunderstandings and even conflicts in an office environment. QA-developer relationships can be a great example of that.
Here are effective ways we deal with this issue in aqua:
- We have regular check-ins with the other teams to discuss updates, ranging from weekly dev meetings to regular product demos
- Our team leads set clear expectations for each team’s deliverables and responsibilities
- aqua supports a transparent environment where everyone knows the bottlenecks and areas for improvement
- Teams use each other’s project management tools to create and assign tasks involving them
- Our team embraces a feedback culture where we involve team members from other teams to help with tasks and give their honest opinions on them
#4. Overreliance on technology
Another remote work communication problem is an overreliance on technology. A remote work setting means less physical interaction and more tech work. Communication might be a problem when it solely depends on technological tools. The risk of miscommunication leads to confusion and delays and affects overall productivity. Furthermore, technology is imperfect and prone to errors, which could be a huge problem in case of data loss.
In aqua, our creative team relies on different issue trackers with a centralised platform for tasks to streamline workflow and enhance collaboration. These trackers provide an opportunity to assign responsibilities and monitor progress. On the other hand, our development team heavily relies on aqua, both the software and aqua-cloud.io, to manage the development process and communication with testers.
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#5. Finding the balance between good communication and micromanagement
When it comes to remote company communication challenges, finding the perfect balance between excessive micromanagement and the necessary level of communication is often overlooked. But it is crucial for increasing employee satisfaction and maintaining a positive work environment.
On the one hand, managers and team leads want regular updates and to know how the employees do their tasks. On the other hand, excessive micromanagement can lead to distrust and employee dissatisfaction or burnout.
In aqua, one of the reasons why the employees, including me, feel so connected to their work and give their best is 0 micromanagement. No unnecessary monitoring, no unrealistic deadlines, and no boss attitude lead to happy employees with a good work-life balance. Everyone chooses their deadlines, prioritises their tasks, and provides necessary updates about their progress during daily meetings, keeping everyone on the same page.
Here is how aqua avoids micromanagement:
- Tasks are delegated effectively to team members based on their skills, experience, and expected workload.
- Resources are provided to ensure all team members have the necessary resources to complete the job.
- Autonomy is encouraged to allow the team members to work independently and make decisions.
- Everyone communicates constructively, showing respect and using non-offensive language when checking for an update, giving feedback, or pointing out an issue.
"You can never over-communicate enough as a leader at a company, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer."
In conclusion, effective communication is a decisive factor in productivity and quality of work in remote companies. To overcome challenges as a remote communication worker, every single employee should take responsibility and play their part. On the other hand, the company needs to trust them to deliver and not nag on them. By implementing the tips and strategies we follow in aqua, you can effectively deal with the issues of having no face-to-face interactions and office meetings.
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