Apr 13, 2020

Does Miscommunication Increase with a Remote Workforce?

IT Services Blog


The rise of the remote worker was happening long before the Novel Coronavirus outbreak made it necessary. People in all manners of positions were working remotely, and succeeding in doing so. Many organizations that have embraced the remote worker have seen noteworthy rises in productivity. In fact, many organizations have seen a lot of success using predominantly remote workers. 

One detriment of having your team spread out, however, can be the way they communicate. Simple communication, such as through email and instant messaging applications can often be misinterpreted, which wastes time and can result in less-than-ideal situations. Why does this happen? Mostly because people read differently and they miss contextual meanings in the words written. Let’s look at a couple things you can do to keep from having communication be a barrier to productivity and coordination during this difficult time.

Use Your Technology

Your business probably leans on its email and instant messaging platforms to communicate whether you are in the office or all working remotely. Unfortunately, signals can get crossed and it can cause projects to tangent off in many different directions. One way to keep this from happening routinely is to use other communication technologies to ensure that it doesn’t. 

One of the best technologies you can use is video conferencing software. By using video conferencing, all parties can see each other and it allows the entire team to see all the non-verbal cues that are so important when there are details at stake. Teams won’t need more than periodic video conferences to get on the same page, so scheduling one every week or two should be sufficient. 

Be Conscientious

There is a tendency, when dealing with conversations that may be redundant–or not terribly interesting–to rush through them so you can get back to work. If you are someone that rushes through your work-related conversations in the office with emojis, when you are working remotely, it can cause twice as much confusion and really bog down progress. It’s simple enough to confront an issue if you are across the room from someone, but if you are towns, states, and countries apart, the chances of things getting lost in translation increases precipitously. 

You will want to always read through any correspondence you are sent. Many times people will send multiple directions or ask multiple questions in a single piece of correspondence, and if the receiving party doesn’t pay attention, some directions, or questions could be overlooked.  

Also, make sure to proofread your outgoing messages before they are sent. Taking a minute before you hit send can make a world of difference. It gives you a chance to alter tone, context, and most importantly, information that another party needs to do their job properly. Sometimes, English isn’t a remote worker’s first language so sending them misspelled, poorly thought out responses to their queries will just bog processes and productivity down even further.

Finally, you will want to try to avoid sarcasm in work-related messages because without the visual non-verbal cues, people can take those attempts at humor seriously, or worse yet, take something that you are serious about as a joke.

Working remotely is the new normal and to keep your staff on-message and productive, you will need to alter the way that you communicate with them. For more workplace suggestions, be sure to visit our blog and share our posts on social media.


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