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8 advanced communication techniques for remote teams

Guest Post

Guest Post

February 23, 2024

The results of the 2023 State of Remote Work report by Buffer confirm that 62% of workers are now distributed across multiple time zones, and 71% of companies are permanently allowing some type of remote work. Additionally, remote workers also find it easier to do focused work, manage stress, avoid distractions, and create work-life boundaries. 

But as you might expect, these benefits will inevitably come with obvious challenges — especially when it comes to communication and collaboration. Anyone who handles a geographically dispersed team, whether fully remote or hybrid, can attest to how difficult it is to keep a team feeling like they are a part of something when they’re scattered across different locations, time zones, or even continents.

Why is effective remote communication so important?

Our company, DesignRush, went fully remote before the pandemic made it necessary for businesses to do so. Those were the days before reliable video conferencing and business communication messaging platforms. We relied heavily on traditional chat apps and Google Drive to communicate and collaborate. And while it worked well enough, it also came at a price. 

Because the truth is, remote working is tough. All the benefits and cost-savings that we got for going remote came at the expense of our company’s culture. Why should that matter? Because culture is what defines your remote team’s dynamics. 

“Culture can directly influence whether an employee stays for six months or six years. It’s that simple. It’s the foundation of an employee’s daily experience in the company. When you’re working remotely, the lack of face-to-face interaction to the difficulty of building team rapport across digital divides magnify the importance of a strong, cohesive culture.

These contribute to a team member’s sense of belonging in the organization and affect communication,” explains Simon Bacher, CEO and Co-Founder of popular language platform Ling, who leads a hybrid team. 

When you essentially have nothing more than a group of strangers who share a sliver of connection through employment, there will be little collaboration, stilted communication, and definitely hardly any fun or shared opinions on whatever is trending on the Internet. You won’t be exchanging clients’ stories or ideas, nor will you be sharing problems and solutions on how to solve them. Everyone’s off in their little silos

Specifically, these are the challenges that you need to overcome: 

  • Isolation: Remote workers often report feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can lead to decreased job satisfaction and mental health issues. A survey by Buffer on remote work challenges found that 21% of remote employees struggle with loneliness.
  • Communication Barriers: Without the benefit of face-to-face interaction, misunderstandings are more common. The lack of non-verbal cues and the reliance on written communication can lead to a lack of clarity and connection among team members.
  • Time Zone Differences: For teams spread across different time zones, finding suitable times for meetings and collaboration can be challenging, potentially leading to delays in project timelines and reduced real-time interaction.

And because everyone seems to prefer the flexibility of remote work (71%, according to recent studies), you have to make it a point to address these issues. 

8 communication techniques for remote teams

With more people than ever now working from home, managing communication with in-house staff has become critical, as has the task of keeping the company culture alive. There are a number of obvious things that companies are already doing now, like regular video calls and maintaining regular communication. But you need to look beyond these and explore more advanced communication techniques for remote teams, especially if you want to scale your operations. 

Build a strong foundation

1. Set clear expectations and goals

Clear expectations and well-defined goals are important for remote teams to function efficiently. This clarity helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is working towards the same objectives. Take note of this statistic as well: ​​69% of employees who reported feeling engaged at their place of employment worked with their managers to set performance goals. So be sure to work closely with your team members with this–not only are you setting the stage for better accountability, but it opens opportunities for direct communication and collaboration. 

To guide you, try this step-by-step sequence: 

Start with a Clear Vision: Begin by communicating the overall vision and objectives of the project or the company to your team. This sets a broad context for everyone’s work.

  • Define Specific Goals: Break down the overall objectives into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for each team member. This specificity helps in minimizing misunderstandings about what is expected.
  • Use Collaborative Tools: Utilize project management tools that are built specifically for teams to visually outline tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. These tools make it easier to track progress and adjustments in real-time.
  • Regular Check-ins: Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with team members to discuss progress, obstacles, and recalibrations of goals if necessary. These check-ins provide an opportunity for direct feedback and adjustment of expectations.
  • Encourage Ownership: Empower your team members by involving them in the task and goal-setting process. This not only increases engagement but also ensures that the tasks and timelines you are meeting are realistic and attainable from their perspective.
  • Document Everything: Keep a written record of agreed-upon goals and expectations. This documentation can be referred back to for clarification, thus preventing any confusion down the line.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Recognize and celebrate when milestones are reached. This reinforces the importance of the set goals and acknowledges the team’s efforts towards achieving them.

2. Establish norms and protocols for communication

Developing specific norms and protocols for communication can significantly reduce the cognitive load on remote team members by eliminating guesswork about how and when to communicate. This might include setting guidelines for response times, specifying which communication channels to use for different types of messages, and establishing regular schedules for updates or check-ins.

Creating norms and protocols for communication in a remote team involves several key steps to ensure clarity and consistency in interactions:

  • Identify Communication Channels: Determine which platforms will be used for different types of communication. For example, in our company, we rely on multiple platforms: Slack for instant messages, email for formal communications that require proper documentation, and Zoom for video meetings. This clarity prevents the scattering of information across too many platforms, which can get confusing and overwhelming.
  • Set Response Time Expectations: Establish clear expectations for response times within each communication channel. Because we work asynchronously–a necessity because we’re scattered across multiple timezones–we’re very clear about the fact that while we don’t expect instant response, we do expect a reply; and that varies across different platforms. Emails should be replied to within 24 hours, instant messages within a few hours of your next round of work hours, and meetings should always be planned ahead of time to give everyone ample time to coordinate their schedules. 
  • Create Communication Guidelines: Draft guidelines on how to communicate effectively. This can include when to use @mentions in team communication platforms, the appropriate use of email CC and BCC fields, and etiquette for video calls (e.g., muting when not speaking).
  • Schedule Regular Updates: Implement a routine for regular updates, such as daily stand-ups or weekly team meetings. This ensures everyone is informed about ongoing projects and can adjust their work accordingly.
  • Define Emergency Communication Protocol: Outline a clear procedure for urgent issues that require immediate attention. This should detail how to escalate the issue and through which channel to ensure quick response times. I recommend dedicating a specific chat channel or platform where people can raise these concerns. 
  • Encourage Feedback on Communication Practices: Regularly solicit feedback from team members on the effectiveness of the communication norms and protocols. This allows for continuous improvement and adaptation to the team’s evolving needs.
  • Document and Share the Protocols: Ensure all communication norms and protocols are documented in a shared, easily accessible location. This acts as a reference point for existing team members and a guide for onboarding new ones.

3. Choose the right communication tools

Selecting appropriate tools is vital for facilitating smooth communication. There are numerous tools built for project management that cater to various aspects of remote collaboration. The key is to choose tools that best fit the team’s needs and ensure they are used consistently. 

“When choosing communication tools for your team, the decision has to be well-thought-out and carefully implemented. It can’t just be about what management prefers; it has to be about what makes your team’s work easier and more efficient. Your team has to learn to use these tools and genuinely appreciate their value in facilitating smoother workflows. Take the time to explore and trial your options. And keep in mind that the tools that serve you well today may need to evolve as your company grows,” explains co-founder and CMO of DoorLoop, David Bitton who explains below how you can go about it. 

  • Assess Your Team’s Needs: Start by understanding the specific needs of your team. Consider factors such as the size of your team, the nature of your projects, and the types of communication that occur most frequently (e.g., video calls, real-time messaging, file sharing).
  • Research Available Tools: Once you have a clear understanding of your team’s needs, research the tools available that cater to those needs. Look for tools that specialize in the types of communication your team relies on most heavily.
  • Consider Integration Capabilities: Choose tools that can easily integrate with each other and with any existing systems your team uses. This reduces the friction in workflows and makes it easier for team members to adopt new tools.
  • Evaluate User-Friendliness: The tools should be intuitive and easy to use to ensure that all team members can adopt them without extensive training. User-friendly interfaces and straightforward functionalities are key.
  • Check for Scalability: Ensure the tools you select can grow with your team. They should be able to accommodate an increasing number of users and additional features as your team’s needs evolve.
  • Trial and Feedback: Take advantage of free trials offered by many communication tools to test them in real scenarios. Gather feedback from your team regarding the tool’s effectiveness, usability, and any limitations they encounter.
  • Analyze Cost vs. Benefit: Consider the cost of each tool in relation to the value it brings to your team. While some tools may be free, others might offer indispensable features that justify their cost.
  • Make a Decision and Standardize Use: Once you’ve assessed the tools based on the criteria above, make a decision and standardize the use of these tools across your team to ensure consistency. Provide training if necessary to ensure all team members are proficient in using the selected tools.
  • Review and Adapt: Communication needs and tool capabilities evolve, so periodically review the effectiveness of your chosen tools and make changes as needed. This ensures your communication stack remains optimized for your team’s needs.

Enhance interaction and engagement

4. Implement regular check-ins and virtual meetings

Regular check-ins and virtual meetings help maintain a sense of continuity and presence among remote team members. These interactions are opportunities not just for project updates but for team members to connect on a personal level, share challenges, and support each other. Some guidelines to consider: 

  • Establish a Routine: Determine a regular schedule for check-ins and meetings that works for the entire team. This could be daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, depending on the team’s needs and the nature of the work.
  • Choose the Right Platform: Select a reliable virtual meeting platform that suits your team’s requirements. Popular options include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. Ensure the platform supports video, as seeing each other can create a stronger sense of connection.
  • Set Clear Agendas: Prior to each meeting, circulate a clear agenda among team members. This helps to ensure that meetings are focused and productive. Allow team members to contribute items to the agenda to ensure their concerns and ideas are addressed.
  • Encourage Participation: During meetings, encourage all team members to participate. This could involve rotating meeting leadership or having different team members share updates on their projects. Use features like breakout rooms for small group discussions or brainstorming sessions.
  • Focus on Connection: Allocate time during meetings for non-work-related conversation. This can help team members connect on a personal level, fostering a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion.
  • Use Visuals and Collaboration Tools: Incorporate visuals and real-time collaboration tools during your meetings. Tools like Cacoo, Miro, or Trello can be used for brainstorming sessions or to track project progress during the meeting.
  • Record Meetings for Future Reference: Record meetings and make them available for team members who are unable to attend. This ensures everyone stays informed and can catch up on any missed information.
  • Solicit Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from your team on the effectiveness of the check-ins and meetings. This can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that these sessions meet the team’s needs.
  • Be Flexible and Adaptive: Be prepared to adjust the frequency, format, or platform of your meetings based on team feedback and changing needs. Flexibility is key to maintaining an effective remote communication strategy.

If you’re managing remote teams across different time zones, implementing regular check-ins and virtual meetings requires additional considerations to ensure inclusivity and effectiveness. Here’s how to adapt the strategy to accommodate diverse time zones:

  • Time Zone Rotation: If your team spans multiple time zones, rotate meeting times to share the inconvenience of early or late meetings. This approach demonstrates fairness and respect for everyone’s work-life balance.
  • Use Scheduling Tools: Utilize scheduling tools like World Time Buddy or Every Time Zone to find overlapping working hours across time zones. These tools can help identify the most convenient times for the majority of the team.
  • Asynchronous Communication: Acknowledge that not all communication needs to be synchronous. Encourage the use of asynchronous tools like Loom for video updates or shared documents for progress reports, allowing team members to contribute according to their own schedules.
  • Core Hours: Establish “core hours” where team members are expected to be available for real-time collaboration. Choose these hours based on the greatest overlap across time zones to facilitate live interactions without imposing undue burden on any team member.
  • Advance Notice and Agendas: Provide meeting notices well in advance, along with clear agendas, so team members can plan their schedules accordingly. This is especially important for those who may need to join meetings outside of their regular working hours.
  • Record Meetings: Always record meetings and make them accessible for team members who cannot attend in real-time. Ensure that these recordings, along with meeting notes and action items, are easily accessible to all team members.
  • Summarize Key Points: After each meeting, distribute a summary of key points discussed, decisions made, and action items. This ensures that even those who couldn’t attend are kept in the loop and can provide feedback or follow-up on discussed items.
  • Flexibility and Empathy: Be flexible and empathetic towards team members in significantly different time zones. Understand the challenges they face and work collaboratively to find solutions that minimize disruptions to their personal lives.

5. Create virtual water cooler spaces for informal interactions

Informal interactions are more important than you might think for building trust and camaraderie with remote teams. Creating virtual “water cooler” spaces, such as dedicated Slack channels for non-work topics or virtual coffee breaks, can help mimic the spontaneous conversations that occur in physical offices and break down silos. 

Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Dedicated Chat Channels: Utilize your team’s communication platform (e.g., Slack, Microsoft Teams) to create dedicated channels for non-work-related discussions. These can be themed around hobbies, pets, fitness, books, or anything that interests your team. Encourage everyone to share and engage in light-hearted conversations.
  • Virtual Coffee Breaks: Schedule regular virtual coffee breaks where team members can join a video call without a set agenda, just to chat and catch up. These can be held weekly or bi-weekly and can include fun activities like trivia or quick games to keep the interaction engaging.
  • Virtual Lunches or Happy Hours: Host monthly virtual lunches or happy hours where team members are encouraged to eat together over video chat and talk about non-work-related topics. This simulates the social interaction of office lunch breaks or after-work gatherings.
  • Interest Groups and Clubs: Encourage the formation of interest groups or clubs within your team. For instance, a book club, a coding club, or a fitness challenge group. These smaller groups can meet virtually to discuss their shared interests and activities.
  • Photo and Story Sharing: Create a space or channel for team members to share photos from their daily lives or tell stories. This could include pet photos, travel memories, or weekend adventures, helping team members get to know each other better on a personal level.
  • Recognition and Celebrations: Use your virtual water cooler spaces to celebrate team achievements, birthdays, work anniversaries, or personal milestones. Recognizing these events can strengthen team bonds and make everyone feel valued and connected.
  • Random Pairings for Chats: Implement a “virtual coffee roulette,” where team members are randomly paired every month for a one-on-one catch-up. This helps build new connections within the team and ensures that remote workers get to know colleagues they might not work with directly.
  • Use Engagement Tools: Leverage tools designed to enhance virtual engagement, like Donut for Slack, which randomly pairs team members for virtual coffee chats, or Kahoot! for creating interactive quizzes and games that the team can participate in together.
  • Feedback and Evolution: Regularly solicit feedback from your team on these virtual water cooler activities to understand what works and what doesn’t. Be open to evolving these spaces based on team preferences and new ideas that come up.

6. Encourage open and transparent communication

Encouraging open and transparent communication within remote teams involves creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feedback, and challenges. This is particularly challenging in remote settings due to the lack of physical presence and non-verbal cues, making it even more important for leadership to actively advocate this culture within the organization. I suggest taking the following steps to help boost communication in a remote workplace. 

  • Lead by Example: Leaders and managers must model the behavior they wish to see by being open and transparent in their communications. Sharing their own challenges, asking for feedback, and admitting mistakes demonstrates that it’s safe for others to do the same.
  • Create Safe Spaces for Sharing: Establish regular check-ins and dedicated forums where team members can share their thoughts and feedback without fear of retribution. This could be in the form of anonymous surveys, open forums, or regular one-on-one meetings where privacy and confidentiality are prioritized.
  • Encourage and Reward Honesty: Make it clear that honest communication is valued and rewarded. Recognize and appreciate team members who bring up difficult issues or offer constructive feedback. This reinforces that openness is a valued aspect of your team culture.
  • Facilitate Two-Way Communication: Ensure that communication is not just top-down. Encourage team members to voice their opinions, ideas, and concerns. Implement tools and practices that make it easy for team members to contribute to discussions, such as collaborative platforms or brainstorming sessions.
  • Provide Training on Effective Communication: Offer training and resources to help team members develop their communication skills, including how to give and receive feedback constructively. This is crucial in remote settings where written communication dominates and misunderstandings can easily arise.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Clearly articulate the expectations for open communication within the team. This includes how and when to share information, the importance of transparency in work processes, and the expectation for constructive feedback.
  • Build Trust Through Consistency: Consistency in actions and follow-through builds trust. When team members see that leaders take their feedback seriously and act upon it, they are more likely to trust and engage in open communication.
  • Handle Sensitive Information Carefully: When sensitive issues are raised, handle them with care and discretion. This shows that the team’s leadership respects privacy and is serious about creating a supportive environment.
  • Normalize the Discussion of Failures: Create an environment where discussing failures and learning from them is normal and encouraged. This helps to remove the stigma associated with mistakes, making it easier for team members to communicate openly.
  • Emphasize the Importance from the Top: The commitment to open and transparent communication must come from the highest levels of the organization. Leaders should communicate the value of openness explicitly and frequently, making it clear that this is a foundational principle of the company culture.

Leverage technology for better connectivity

7. Utilize project management and collaboration tools

Utilizing project management and collaboration tools effectively in remote teams involves more than just basic task assignments. To leverage these tools as part of advanced communication techniques, consider the following strategies:

  • Custom Workflow Creation: Go beyond default settings and customize workflows to match your team’s specific processes. Use features like custom fields, tags, and statuses to provide clear visual cues about task priorities, stages, and categories. This customization helps in managing complex projects by breaking them down into more manageable parts and aligning them with your team’s unique workflow.
  • Integration with Other Tools: Enhance functionality by integrating these platforms with other tools your team uses. For instance, integrate your project management tool with your communication platform (e.g., Slack or Microsoft Teams) to automate updates and notifications. This keeps everyone informed in real-time and reduces the need to switch between apps.
  • Advanced Reporting and Analytics: Use the reporting features to track progress, productivity, and to identify bottlenecks. Many tools offer advanced analytics that can provide insights into team performance, project timelines, and workload distribution. These insights can be used for making informed decisions and for continuous improvement.
  • Automated Workflows and Notifications: Set up automated workflows that trigger actions based on specific criteria, such as automatically moving tasks to a different stage when marked as completed or sending reminders as deadlines approach. This automation saves time and ensures that important tasks do not fall through the cracks.
  • Centralized Document Storage and Collaboration: Utilize the document storage and collaboration features to keep all project-related files in one place. This makes it easy for team members to find, share, and co-edit documents without leaving the platform, ensuring that everyone is working with the most up-to-date information.
  • Access Control and Permission Settings: Implement access control and customize permission settings to manage who can view, edit, or comment on different aspects of a project. This is crucial for maintaining data security and for ensuring that team members have access to the information relevant to their roles.
  • Interactive Timelines and Gantt Charts: For complex projects, use features like timelines and Gantt charts to visualize project schedules and dependencies. This helps in planning and adjusting project timelines and ensures that all team members understand their deadlines and how their work fits into the larger project.
  • Feedback Loops and Collaboration Spaces: Create dedicated spaces within these tools for feedback and collaboration. Encourage team members to comment on tasks, share ideas, and provide updates directly within the platform. This fosters a collaborative environment where communication is centralized and accessible.
  • Regular Tool Training and Updates: Keep the team updated on new features and best practices for using these tools. Regular training sessions can help team members make the most of the platform’s capabilities and encourage the adoption of advanced techniques.
  • Custom Dashboards for Personal and Team Overview: Utilize dashboards to create personalized views that highlight key tasks, deadlines, and metrics for both individuals and the team. This helps everyone stay focused on their priorities while also keeping an eye on the team’s overall progress.

8. Integrate AI and automation tools to streamline communication

Integrating AI and automation tools to streamline communication in remote teams involves employing advanced technologies to optimize workflows, minimize manual tasks, and facilitate smoother interactions. Here’s how to implement these advanced techniques effectively:

  • Automate Scheduling with AI: Use AI-powered scheduling tools like or Calendly to automate the meeting scheduling process. These tools can handle the back-and-forth of finding suitable times for all participants, taking into account different time zones and personal calendars. By automating scheduling, teams can save time and reduce the friction often associated with coordinating meetings.
  • Use Chatbots for Instant Support: Implement AI-driven chatbots within your communication platforms to provide instant answers to common questions, facilitate access to resources, or guide team members through troubleshooting steps. Chatbots can be integrated into platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, offering a 24/7 support system that enhances communication efficiency.
  • Workflow Automation: Leverage platforms that can help you connect your various communication and project management tools, creating automated workflows that trigger specific actions based on predefined rules. 
  • AI-Powered Analytics for Communication Insights: Utilize AI-driven analytics tools to gain insights into communication patterns within your team. Analyze data from emails, meetings, and collaboration platforms to identify bottlenecks, assess team collaboration levels, and suggest improvements. These insights can inform strategies to enhance communication efficiency and team dynamics.
  • Automated Transcription Services: Use automated transcription services for video meetings and voice messages. This ensures that important information is captured and accessible, even for those who could not attend the meeting.
  • Intelligent Document Collaboration: Implement AI-based document collaboration tools such as Google Docs or Notion, which offer features like suggestion mode, version history, and smart editing suggestions. These features streamline the process of co-creating documents, proposals, or reports by making it easier to track changes, merge ideas, and finalize content collaboratively.
  • Personalized Notifications and Alerts: Customize notifications and alerts using AI to ensure team members receive relevant information without being overwhelmed. AI can help filter and prioritize notifications based on urgency, project relevance, or the recipient’s role, reducing notification fatigue and ensuring critical information is promptly addressed.
  • AI-Enhanced Project Management: Employ AI-enhanced project management tools that can predict project timelines, suggest task assignments based on team members’ workload and expertise, and identify risks before they become issues. This proactive approach to project management supports more effective communication and collaboration by aligning team efforts with project needs.

Leadership in remote workplaces

We have spent the last several years of our professional lives coming to the same place at the same time, from Monday to Friday. Suddenly, we find ourselves in a position where this isn’t the only choice anymore. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all all approach to navigate these changes perfectly, I believe it’s pretty clear that it all starts from the top. 

“The important message to take away from this is that people need to take part in the fun stuff as well as the serious business side to build a solid company culture. You have to learn to strike a balance between your leadership style, the technology you use, and how well you can implement them to make people connect with the team. You will always get far better results from a workforce that is passionate, engaged, and talking to each other,” shares Dominic Monn, whose company MentorCruise, operates remotely.  

Leaders should model the communication behaviors they wish to see within their teams. That includes actively living and breathing everything that you’re preaching to the team, using the tools and techniques yourself, and demonstrating the value and your commitment to enhancing team communication and company culture. 

If there’s anything that managing a fully remote team has taught me, it is that leading an organization starts by treating them as if they were a team, regardless of wherever they are in the world. Acknowledging our collective identity helps trust and collaboration within the company, bridging the gap physical distance creates and driving us towards shared goals with a united purpose.

How to define your remote culture

Enhancing remote team dynamics with advanced communication techniques is essential for the modern, dispersed workforce. 

The shift towards remote work demands that we rethink and redefine how we connect, collaborate, and cultivate a sense of community within our teams. By adopting a proactive approach to improving communication, businesses can unlock the full potential of their remote teams, and foster an environment where innovation, engagement, and productivity are front and center. 

I encourage businesses and leaders to view this as an opportunity to strengthen their teams. Evaluate your current communication strategies, identify areas for improvement, and be open to integrating new tools and methodologies.

Let this be a call to action: take the time to assess and refine your team’s communication strategies. It’s the best way to build a resilient, connected, and dynamic remote team ready to face the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

Author bio

Gianluca Ferruggia is a seasoned digital marketer with over eight years of experience in the field. His career started with SEO and PPC until he branched out to other facets of digital marketing, sales, and business development. He is currently the General Manager at DesignRush, where he leads a team of 100+ professionals, oversees business operations, and develops strategies to achieve business goals.



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