How to Improve Remote Team Communication

If we were to receive a nickel, or even a penny, for every time we, a staffing agency, have mentioned remote work over the past 3 years, I would be living happily on a beach in some tropical location. For, ignoring the concept of remote work, especially when discussing staffing itself, in 2023 would be both irresponsible and ignorant. We are nowhere near escaping (or for those that love it, erasing) the concept of hybrid work. In fact, we may be pushing toward more hybrid work. Therefore, finding ways to create team communication amongst the remote channels is more crucial than ever (and will continue to be).

Is this even a timely discussion? If companies have been remote for over three years, haven’t they already found ways to effectively communicate as a mobile team?

According to ZipRecruiter, about 39% of new hires have jobs with a hybrid work arrangement, while 18% of new jobs are fully remote. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that there are still businesses moving toward or acclimating to hybrid workplaces in the current year. Henceforth, there are still plenty of businesses in which establishing team communication is new and necessary.

For example, if you clicked on this article as an employer, you are still actively searching for ways to increase remote team communication, proving our point and purpose. There are still businesses attempting to establish an effective hybrid workplace, despite being a few years behind the pandemic-forced curve.

Luckily, we are here for you. And as a recruitment company that has been remote since our inception, we know how to establish successful remote workplaces. Here’s how to improve and establish remote team communication:

But… The Pandemic Is Over

Why take the time to establish an effective hybrid foundation if the trend is on its way out?

Believe it or not, the idea of working away from the office is not a trend floating by the workplace lexicon, soon to be replaced by the well-established and thought-out concept of in-person labor. A plethora of businesses has adapted to the new way of working, with elated employees pushing them forward through effort and desire.

Remote jobs now make up more than 15% of the total opportunities in the U.S., a strong difference from the 4% in 2020. With just a quick glance on job boards like Indeed, you will find an overwhelming amount of jobs calling for remote or hybrid workers. So much so, you are unlikely to believe that companies believe the at-home work is gleamingly negative.

This 15% is technically a decrease, but it’s a much lower drop than some may have expected in a post-pandemic world.

At remote work’s peak in April of 2022, remote jobs took up 20% of the total opportunities. It’s dropping slightly, sure, but the attention toward it is still high. While only 15% of job posts are remote, LinkedIn’s data showed that these posts received more than half of the total applications as of September.

According to Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University who has researched remote work for 2 decades, the share of remote jobs in the U.S. is likely to stabilize at around 25% of employment. And, according to Zippia, experts predict that there will be 36.2 million Americans working remotely by 2025. This is a 417% increase from pre-pandemic levels, where there were only 7 million people working remotely.

Moral of the story: remote work isn’t going anywhere. Some companies and employees are deciding they prefer it. Therefore, if you haven’t adapted a hybrid or remote model for your company yet, you may still decide to in the future. The remote transition is no longer powered by quarantines and pandemic scares.

Why Team Communication Is Necessary

global study by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), proved the improvement in production, stating, “Interpersonal [work] relationships have a sizeable and significant positive effect on the job satisfaction of the average employee. [Relationships] rank first out of…12 domains of workplace quality in terms of power to explain variation in job satisfaction.”

Statistics show that 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the main cause of workplace failures.

Enough statistics for you?

We don’t need any more numbers to prove our point. Teams don’t win games without speaking to each other. Tom Brady didn’t win 6 Super Bowls from not communicating plays and objectives to his fellow teammates. When working on something as a unit, you must have a strong foundation of team communication. It’s that simple.

Do Remote Workplaces Suffer?

If communication amongst a team is crucial for productivity and workplace happiness, but the longstanding history of our statistics is based upon the former normalcy of in-person workplaces, then how does the remote standpoint look? Does communication (and therefore productivity) take a dive in a remote or hybrid working environment?

According to The State of Remote Work Report by Owl Labs, 70% of employees agree it’s often or always difficult to contribute to a conversation through video calls. Which, in all regards, is the most common form of communication amongst remote workers. And while there isn’t much concrete proof proving that communication has dropped while going remote, it’s a reasonable correlation. Once workers are unable to reach each other through a few-foot walk, it’s likely communication dips.

There is a contradicting point, though. The time it takes to message someone on text software (like Slack) is significantly less than even the short walk to an office. Therefore, there’s room to argue that communication has even improved due to remote workplaces. The difference is the effectiveness of communication, for in-person discussions will always be more psychologically effective than text-based ones. This is based solely on the use and understanding of tone and body language when in person. The idea of communication and purpose being lost over text is a tale as old as the cellphone itself.

Though the rate at which teammates communicate may have not faltered during the switch to mobile workplaces, the effectiveness and potency of the communication certainly has, lowering the productivity and emotional stability of overall collaborations.

Team Communication Starts With Tools

So, if communication is important in the workplace and has dropped since moving to mobile offices, then how can an employer look to improve and build an open and effective working environment?

Though we’ve circled around the point, that still is the purpose of the article. So, let’s finally get to it.

Creating solid and effective team communication starts with the tools at your disposal. After all, the hybrid workplace relies entirely on the use of technology and software. Without it, everyone is lost in their own world. This is considered a working silo, or, a workplace where all team members are collaborating but not communicating enough.

61% of employees say their team works in a silo because everyone uses different tools. Therefore, establishing common tools amongst the entire team is the first step in creating an effective workplace with full communication.

Instant Messaging

Regardless of your business’ industry or the rate at which your team needs to talk to each other, you need an instant messaging client. It’s the quickest and easiest way to replace being able to shout each other’s names from adjacent cubicles.

Jokes aside, having a quick way to message questions and ideas is crucial for workplace communication. In fact, clients like Slack and Google Chat were important to offices before remote work became a thing. It makes life that much easier.

Therefore, you need to pick the best service for your needs and make sure that all workers are on it. Once on the application, makes sure to have corresponding groups for all appropriate teams and departments. You should have individual channels for each department, cleaning up the abundance of messages.

Voice and Video Calling

Much like instant messaging, you will need a common video calling software to hold actual meetings. Which one fits your needs depends entirely on your corresponding sector. Luckily, all software like Zoom and Skype share similar possibilities, from file sharing to screen projecting.

If you are looking to go fully remote, you need a way to have everyone communicate and meet with each other. Though we have discussed the idea of lowering meeting rates in the past, it’s still important to have them. Therefore, you need the software to do so.

Unfortunately, some of these video calling services require users to download software. Henceforth, having one picked out and informing your entire team lets you get ahead of the curve. You don’t want someone to be late to the first meeting because they didn’t know they needed to download Skype.

Collaborative Work Software and Drives

While not a direct form of communication, you still need a commonplace for files and projects for your team. Inadvertently, this makes communication among teammates more efficient. For example, if two workers need to quickly discuss a problem with a spreadsheet, they should both be able to open and access it immediately. They shouldn’t have to fumble around with applications or email files to each other.

Therefore, pick a drive of collaborative software before you move to hybrid work. While Google Drive is the most common for normal files, something like Adobe Cloud may be more useful if your industry relies on, say, Premiere video work.

Like all software on this list, make sure all employees can safely access it before going remote. Not only is not being able to communicate bad for remote work but not being able to access the actual remote work is bad for remote work.

Get it?

Calendars and Other Activity Reports

If communication is the most important part of teamwork, structure is a close second. How can you make sure everyone is collaborating correctly if there’s no clear plan or schedule?

Having a group calendar, overview, and activity reports is crucial for both collaborative communication and supervisor understanding. Having a calendar or document in which every teammate can list what they are working on and when they are working on it helps everyone move in lockstep. It also helps the supervisor understand and determine who is doing their job and who is not keeping up with deadlines.

Consequently, a remote team won’t be able to efficiently check in with each other to see where everyone is on status and production. It would require a bevy of messages on the messaging client. You need to have a calendar or group report available to keep everyone’s production in order.

Virtual Watercoolers

So far, all the aforementioned tools involve work, staying at work, and talking about work. Fortunately, that’s not the only form of workplace communication. You need to have actual friendly communication among workers, too. Though workers don’t need to become best friends to work together effectively, the elimination of friendly communication regarding things outside of work is critical for workplace happiness and culture.

According to a study by the Atlantic, having a friend that you see on most days has the same positive effect on happiness as earning a significant pay raise. They considered working with a friend on most days to be the psychological equivalent of earning $100,000 more each year. And, according to LinkedIn, 46% of professionals believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness.

According to a quarterly Gallup survey done in June 2022, just 2 in 10 adult U.S. employees say they have a “best friend” at work, a significant drop from pre-pandemic workplaces. The percentage under age 35 dropped by 3 points when compared to pre-pandemic 2019, to 21% from 24%.

While we aren’t saying you need to force friendships upon your employees, having open communication is important to have a pleasant and inclusive time at work. With this, virtual watercoolers have become all the rage. Basically, have an open channel on your messaging client where employees can discuss things that aren’t related to work or hold video meetings every once in a while just to discuss how everyone is doing.

Team communication is more than just work communication.

Tips to Improve Remote Team Communication

Once you have all of your pieces and tools in place, you must then work to keep communication open and effective.

You can lead a horse to water.

Overall, if your team has not worked remotely before, the introductory period is going to be a bit strange. Workers won’t know exactly how to communicate correctly, leading to a few mishaps and awkward situations. That’s okay. It’s important to adhere to the following tips to make sure everything remains smooth during the hybrid tenure.

Ultimately, you may notice that a lot of these tips can be applied to any workplace, not just mobile ones. With that, you’d be correct. At the end of the day, communication still stands on the normal pillars of communication, regardless of the medium in which it happens. These tips are doubly (is that a word?) important for remote communication, though.

Never Micromanage

Miles Anthony Smith, an American Author, once said, “Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.”

In all cases, he was entirely right.

While we understand that adapting to a hybrid workplace may cause some uncertainty, it’s important to remember that you hired your workers for a reason. You don’t need to constantly check up on them to see if they are working. You don’t need to worry that they are actually asleep in their bed, cozy and avoidant. If you don’t trust your team to work remotely, then they shouldn’t be your team.

When you take the empathy of humanity out of the workplace, you lose individual and progressive thinking. If you don’t treat your employees like intelligent, equal humans with the clairvoyance to make split-second and independent decisions, then, ironically, you stop their ability to do so. You create a self-fulfilling prophecy of workers not willing to work without your oversight.

Furthermore, the act of being told what to do or criticized for your work constantly creates frustration. Being constantly critiqued causes resentment and reluctance to work for the employer. The worker doesn’t want to work for the micromanager, causing the micromanager to find more grounds for critique.

The quickest way to squash communication is to squash the want for communication. If you or your supervisor become a pain to deal with, constantly checking in on employees or bombarding them with messages of critiques, they are likely to avoid communication at all costs.

Pst. We wrote an entire article explaining the troubles of micromanaging (both remote and in-person) here.

Direct Communication

As we previously mentioned, text-based communication can get murky. Emotional tones like sarcasm and anger can sometimes be lost in translation, causing a misunderstanding of the background reasoning and outcome. We can’t all be expert writers, weaving a web that perfectly portrays our every emotion. We can’t all be me.

Jokes aside, being direct with your commutations and needs is important to both teamwork and leadership. Saying one thing and doing another or saying something passive aggressively are quick ways to turn someone sour against you.

If you aren’t clear with your employees about what their tasks and goals are, but get upset with them when they don’t meet them, you will turn them against you.

As a supervisor, manager, or owner, always mean what you say and do what you mean. It’s that simple. Be upfront and honest. Employees don’t want to be tossed around by passive-aggressive tactics and wishy-washy behavior, especially when over text or email. Tell your employees (especially high-performing ones) what you want from them and what you will give them. This isn’t just a tactic to keep employees retained, but a tactic to keep them happy and communicating effectively.

Give Teamates Places to Speak Without You

Here’s a weird one: employers and supervisors (you) don’t always have to be present for conversations. Forcing yourself into team-based group chats when you aren’t necessary seems both overbearing and disturbing. As we said, if you don’t trust your employees, you shouldn’t have them as employees.

You and your supervisors don’t need to be in every Slack channel. If you don’t work directly with a team, allow them to have a Slack channel without you. That’s why you have managers. They act as the liaison between you and the specific department. You don’t need to take remote work as an opportunity to pry into every facet of the workforce.

Don’t be overbearing and nosey. Let workers talk without you. They have the opportunity to speak amongst themselves without supervisors when at the office, so they should be able to do it remotely.

Meet In-Person When Possible

What’s the best way to make remote communication more effective? Don’t meet remotely.

Nothing will ever top the importance of face-to-face conversation. While production and the common workday have not had issues transitioning to remote situations, meetings have. At the end of the day, there’s a reason hybrid workplaces are the future instead of straight remote. Workers can enjoy the freedom and elasticity of working from home, but when a meeting or in-person production is necessary, they can report to the office.

When you have an important discussion or team meeting, we recommend doing it in person if your company is hybrid. It’s simply a much better and emotionally-understandable form of communication.

With the pandemic no longer being the driving force behind remote work, it’s okay to hold meetings in person. In fact, it will always be the best way to do it.

Create a Document Describing All Issues

Hiccups in technology will happen, especially when first transitioning to a remote workplace. Therefore, having every possibility outlined can help speed up the process and keep communication efficient.

We recommend creating a cheat sheet of sorts for all newly-remote workers. This document should have all possible issues and how your team should overcome them.

Messaging service goes down? This is how we will communicate. Your wifi goes out? Report it here. Can’t get into the Zoom meeting? Do this.

It’s like having company policies for remote situations. Get ahead of issues and miscommunication ahead of time.


At the end of the day, everything resorts to understanding that we are all human. Every form of communication, whether remote, out of work, or in-person, requires a certain level of respect and humility. Sure, you are above someone on the corporate ladder, but a two-way discussion on equal footing is necessary for good communication.

Listening to your team goes for more than just expressing grievances, too. If an employee comes to you stating that they are feeling burnout or having other personal issues, listen to them and help make changes to help them. Care. At the end of the day, an employee wants to feel heard. They want to feel like they are an important part of a company and are cared for.

Care for them. Have empathy. Have sympathy. Remote work requires a bunch of different factors. Miscommunication and mistakes will happen. Don’t be a pushover, but don’t be unfair, either.

An employee is more likely to be engaged and communicative when their employer listens to them and takes their concerns and ideas into consideration. Treating an employee like a cog in the machine is the quickest way to get them to act like a cog in a machine… Inhumane and boring.

Team communication over remote channels is something everyone has to get used to. We have hundreds of years of working without them. It’s a chance to evolve and learn, so take it in stride. Things will get easier and the team will become more efficient. Until then, listen and keep a strong level of empathy. 3 years later and we are all still trying to figure it out.