This Communication Issue In Remote Teams Is Affecting The Employee Experience

A Communication Issue Affects The Remote Employee Experience
Summary: Remote work has many perks, but also downsides—and they are all tied to communication issues. Here's how to create a positive company culture that fosters engagement.

Boosting Employee Engagement By Eradicating Communication Issues

If there is one thing that businesses worldwide have learned since 2020, it is that there are plenty of perks that go hand-in-hand with working remotely. The most popular advantages of remote work include flexibility in location and time management, enhancement of self-management, greater work-life balance, and big money saved on costs such as commuting, lunches, and wardrobe. There are also additional perks worth noting, such as greater diversity among team members, increased productivity, and better retention. Simply put: it creates an excellent employee experience. Despite all the perks that the remote office setup has to offer, there is one glaring shortcoming that cannot be ignored: the communication issue. Sure, one might say that emails and messaging services help get the job done. And to that, I’d say yes, they do. But the finer areas that are lacking within the communication spectrum are undeniable.

Common Challenges In The Remote Workforce That Stem From Communication Issues

I have no doubt that your team is successfully collaborating on projects, but are they truly interacting with one another? Odds are, not quite. While that may not seem like a big deal, it actually is, and that’s because it plays a strong role in solidifying the company culture. According to Ryan Hoover, there are some shared experiences that are globally faced by remote workers, each of which leads back to limited interactions. These shortcomings include:

1. Loneliness

While working from home can be empowering, the lack of human interaction can take a toll. This is especially the case for those with more extroverted personalities. There’s a looming feeling of being disconnected, with an increased sense of isolation that can kick in from time to time. Loneliness is at epidemic levels in the United States. A survey discovered Gen Z (adults aged 18–22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.

2. Disconnecting

When team members are spread out across multiple time zones, it gets tricky to schedule meetings and work around times in which most everyone would be available to collaborate with one another. There are also points in which team members might feel the desire or need to be more active in their engagement with the rest of the team, only to end up working extended hours that aren’t sustainable on a regular basis.

3. Distractions

A lot can be said about distractions because they are unavoidable no matter the workplace setting. At the office, the distractions would be loud colleagues, music, or almost any activity in open-office layouts. At home, distractions can come from pets, young children, unexpected guests, telemarketers, and more.

4. Watercooler Serendipity

These are the quick exchanges typically done by the watercooler or break room that can inspire some great ideas. Remote workers don’t quite get to engage in that manner. Ryan Hoover states, "Some people refrain from sharing ideas in Slack where text is permanent and public to the entire team. Translating half-baked thoughts—that can lead to fully-baked brilliance—also requires more effort, reducing peoples’ level of participation."

5. Communication

Yes, there are numerous ways remote workers communicate with one another, but are these methods actually efficient? There are far too many conference calls that end up running longer than needed. Oftentimes, that’s because of technical difficulties being experienced by the host or attendees. There is also the (annoying) issue of background noise and even the fact that not everyone actually gets to speak in these meetings because "the loudest voice in the room" is typically the one that calls the shots.

6. Respect

Honest workers often worry about the judgment of their remote work in office settings. This is largely due to the fact that their impact tends to go unrecognized, which may lead to feelings of not being valued.

The Solution To These Common Challenges

Many attempts have been taken by team leaders to boost remote employee engagement and satisfaction while boosting morale, innovation, and, of course, collaboration. They tap into resources that help promote growth while managing remote and/or flexible workforces.

One of the most efficient solutions, which is easy to implement and quick to grasp, is to start from within by digitally creating a positive company culture that fosters engagement among team members. It’s essential for these interactions to not give off mechanical vibes. This can be done by scheduling virtual team-building activities and encouraging informal communication, which would collectively help ease away any feelings of loneliness or disconnection between team members. Additionally, acknowledging the efforts of remote workers will naturally go a long way to ensure that they feel valued and appreciated, thereby creating a stronger team dynamic, and better employee experience for all.