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Back-to-back video calls, all-day team chats combined with an expectation of immediate response is taking its toll on people trying to work from home.
In the quest to create a real-time interaction of the office, we are cutting the remote workers' ability to get things done.
Asynchronous communication is when we send a message (such as emails) without expecting an immediate response. The recipient can take hours to answer it.
Synchronous (or real-time) communication is when you and the other person are engaged in a face-to-face audio or video conversation, like a video call or a phone call. The information discussed is responded immediately.
Instant messaging tools like Slack or Teams are synchronous, and in some companies, email is also used as a real-time communication tool.
Team communication has increased by 50 percent in the last 20 years. We spend an average of three hours a day working on emails. On an average, Slack users send about 200 messages in a day.
This near constant communication hampers work productivity, with video calls, one-on-one meetings, e-mail and team chat leaving little room for actual work.
The overhead of real-time communication leads to:
This requires managers to:
While face-to-face connections are important, make sure that zoom meetings, phone calls and other real-time communication are not the rule, but an exception.
Personal and real-time interaction is good for team building, but we need to provide flexibility to the remote team in both work hours and location, and make it okay for them to disconnect when required.
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While real-time communication inside of a team might lead to solving faster some issues, it also has various disadvantages.
For instance, having your colleagues come to ask you questions to which you feel pressured to answer on the spot leads to you being continuously interrupted, which results in being less productive and feeling stressed or even getting a burnout, as you try to do everything in proper time.
When the employees are provided with control as to when they are willing to communicate with their co-workers, there are many advantages that emerge.
For instance, having the freedom to decide exactly how your working day should look like leads to more satisfied employees as well as to better communication within the team. Further benefits vary from feeling less stressed due to better planning to greater transparency and more efficient work.
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Hybrid companies function best when the entire company is optimized for remote work. Successful hybrid teams set up processes to help their remote workers thrive alongside their office teammates.
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Creating accountability is a great way to manage the work remotely. Accountability is shifted to the teammates, who are now supposed to be responsible for their own work and decisions.
One way to build accountability in remote teams is to assign groups and let teammates hold each other responsible. Also make teammates share their work experience and any issues they face, publicly (within the team) so that it acts as a ready solution for others, reducing repeat work.
Even if the team is small, document, formalize and map each process, making it scalable and automatic.
Standard Operating Procedures, if used correctly in a remote setting, can act like a central nervous system.