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Remote teams face many of the same challenges as regular teams. Communication isn’t any different. A team with members in different time zones who communicate via email or video can become disconnected. Remote teams must also collaborate in different ways. Meetings and videoconferences aren’t always accessible options, and email is not always the most effective communication medium.

Working in remote teams can be challenging. A team distributed across the country or even the world can feel isolated. To improve communication in remote teams, follow these five tips.

Plan regular meetings via video or in-person

To improve communication in remote teams, it’s important to plan regular in-person or video meetings. Regular team meetings are an excellent way for everyone to share their progress and get feedback. The team may be so busy that they don’t have time to meet in person, but video conferencing can be a great solution. However, it can be worth reiterating the benefits of meeting in person for those who are logistically able to do so for morale.

Create a virtual water cooler

The idea of a water cooler moment is to break up the workday with informal, spontaneous chats about non-work-related things. That’s also the idea behind virtual watercooler moments. A virtual watercooler moment can be as simple as sending a funny video or picture in a company chat. This might seem like an inefficient use of time, but it will help your team feel connected and friendlier. Studies have shown that people suffering from loneliness have less creativity and are more prone to depression. The same goes for office workers in remote teams: they may feel lonely and disconnected if there’s not enough communication.

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Check-in with a good morning.

To maintain a sense of connectedness in remote teams, it’s essential to check in with a good morning greeting. Check-ins throughout the day can also be helpful, but morning greetings are necessary to establish that you are thinking about your remote team members and want them to have a great start to their day. It is particularly important for people who are working the night shift. A morning greeting will help create more meaningful connections and communication between your team members.

Invest in appropriate internal communication tools

The first step to improving communication in remote teams is finding the best internal communication tools for you. A good rule of thumb is to find tools that are versatile, reliable, and offer a high level of security.

Some companies invest in tools like Slack or Skype for Busines. These platforms offer team members the ability to collaborate in real-time and share files or documents quickly and easily. Other companies use email as their primary form of communication, while others opt for video call services like FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Whatever you decide, make sure your system offers effective and easy-to-use collaboration features.

Show empathy and understanding.

Empathy and understanding are the basis of good communication. A remote team member is just like an individual who works in the office next to you, but they may have different needs or cultural backgrounds. Consider that when sending a message.

Consider context as well. For example, if a remote team member sends an email shortly before midnight and you respond at 7 am, it can be easy to forget how tired they might be and how inconvenient it would be for them to be woken up so early.