Plenty of providers offer a huge variety of tools and solutions for communicating and working remotely. We have created a step-by-step guide to help you to pick the right communication tools for you and your team. Let’s get interaction in your teams and classes to the next level!
Step 1: Pick the right tools & test them
First, learn what the technical options of all your team members and students are. Does everybody have a computer and a stable internet connection available? Or do you and your team handle a large part of your communication via smartphone? Try to think of solutions that are as close as possible to your regular routine.
In the majority of teams, you will find a mix of both mentalities. So in most cases, the best solution would be to go for a service like Slack or Zoom, which offer joining both from a PC and a phone. The most important element remains internet access. Dedicate a few hours on the first one to three days and let people test what works best for them. Maybe someone needs to upgrade their data plan or figure out which devices work best for communication in their particular case. Once solutions are set and working, stick to them.
It is a good idea to test tools in a small group first, before presenting it to the entire pool of participants. Learn how to use it properly first – and you’ll see it will be easier to motivate others to use the solution as well! If you can demonstrate that your solution is working smoothly and supports people in their efficiency, your team will adjust to the new situation quicker and easier.
Step 2: Create a habit of documentation
If you are already familiar with documenting project work – great! In that case, focus on keeping a culture of making meeting notes accessible to everybody involved – more than in your daily routine already. Do you use project management solutions like Jira or Asana? If not yet, now might be the time to give them a try. Asana, for example, is offering a free plan perfectly suiting small teams. A huge advantage of these solutions is that you can manage tasks in a timeline. You can keep track track of them and it is transparent to all your team members.
If you need a quick solution, a joined journal in Google spreadsheets (could be what you’re looking for) already might do the job. Make sure people document their daily tasks in this shared space. Set a fixed daily time frame or deadline for this.
Documentation will help immensely in streamlining discussions, meetings and tasks and in keeping focus. This again is helpful in preventing people from feeling lost in their tasks or general progress across projects. Especially teams used to big, joined workspaces tend to be prone to this when switching to remote work. Even for students, this is a good way of keeping track of their tasks and learning progress. It’s essential for keeping motivation without direct peer support or a routine set by scheduled classes.
Step 3: Ask for feedback
Not everyone might voice suggestions, criticism or their opinion out of their own initiative. Include feedback rounds after meetings and ask for feedback directly. Especially in a remote environment, it is even more important to foster the feeling of being heard, seen and included in debates.
Keep in mind that people communicate differently. All these styles now need to function on a common ground with limited possibilities. Ask if people are satisfied with the communication style. What are they missing, or what do they like about the solution you provided? Tweak and improve where it’s possible – and try to find an individual solution where it’s needed.