As many as 59% of US workers now work remotely—all or most of the time. As more companies adjust to a “new normal” in the wake of the global pandemic, remote working communication challenges are becoming more prevalent. These challenges include:
Remote Working Communication Challenges and How to Solve Them
Offering remote and hybrid work accommodations creates positive environments for teams. A recent Flexjobs survey reveals that out of 4,000 post-pandemic employees, 58% prefer full-time remote positions, while 39% prefer a hybrid arrangement.
In this new era of remote work, it’s all about flexibility. Employees want the ability to pick up their kids from school, or start work later to accommodate personal matters—all while carrying a full-time workload. Managers have embraced this new paradigm to retain valuable employees, but perhaps more importantly, happy employees produce higher quality work. However, along with a remote staff comes an array of communication challenges.
Here are five common communication challenges for remote teams and suggestions for potential solutions.
1. Internal Team Communication
Restricting collaboration to online channels can present many challenges. Miscommunication inevitably happens, but factoring in the frequent notifications for countless emails, instant chats, and Zoom calls further complicates the communication problem. Remote workers struggle to find the right balance between responding to inquiries within a reasonable time, and keeping the rest of their business correspondence organization.
Solution: Use Shared Inboxes for Efficient Communication
Shared inboxes allow team members to manage company email addresses together from one location. Without this tool, employees attempt to coordinate via individual email accounts, or share a company email account using the same login and password.
Some email inquiries cannot be resolved with a single reply, and require additional exchanges before resolving a problem. Individual accounts can create multiple email threads, cc’ing, and forwarding.With shared inboxes, employees can address company emails together, eliminating the need for lengthy threads.
In addition to eliminating these issues, shared inboxes also boost security at the individual and company levels. Users only need to log in to their personal inboxes for shared inbox access, which also eliminates the need for tab switching and password sharing.
How To Use Gmelius for Streamlined Communication
Gmelius replaces cluttered Google Groups, team aliases, and external help desks with a Gmail shared inbox tool. Gmelius functions from within Gmail for seamless communication and collaboration.
When a team member logs in to their Gmail, they can access emails assigned to them from an “assigned” view on the left side panel. Directly below are categories for “pending” and “closed” emails, so teams can get an update on correspondence status at a glance, and prioritize responses accordingly.
The Gmelius sidebar allows managers to choose which team members receive specific emails, further simplifying the assignment process. Members can also add a status or email note for additional context about the assignment. For example:
“This client would like to renew their contract, but they have some questions regarding their billing. Can you fill them in on our renewal policy?”
2. Project Management
Time zone differences, flexible hours, and digital correspondence make remote project management a challenge. It’s easy to gather on-site employees in a conference room to talk about the company’s latest project. However, gathering multiple remote employees for a scheduled Zoom call is infinitely more challenging. Scheduling in itself can be a hassle, but ensuring each project task is assigned and completed on time is considerably more complex.
Solution: Organize Tasks in One Location
Investing in tools to optimize organizational tactics is a solution many remote organizations can get on board with. For example, tools such as Trello offer Kanban-style lists online, creating a structured workflow for each task.
This method of project management creates clear accountability and gives visual status updates on one platform, instead of using multiple channels to discuss the many and various details.
How To Use Gmelius for Project Management
Gmelius offers Gmail Kanban boards as a project management feature that allows team members to turn emails into task cards and manage projects visually directly from within Gmail. Teams can then manage Kanban boards together to help identify what project tasks still need assigning, what is in progress, and what’s pending.
As an added bonus, Gmelius’ Kanban boards integrate with Trello. Gmail Kanban boards can be converted into Trello boards in just a few clicks. Emails, tasks, and due dates all sync in real-time in both Gmail and Trello, eliminating the time-consuming task of jumping back and forth between applications. Based on their preferences, team members can work from either Gmail or Trello. Teams can also share progress with external partners to offer insight on a task’s progress. Communication is streamlined, resulting in better collaborative opportunities and a consolidated view of the project as well as its individual tasks.
3. Too many Tools, Too Little Time
As our dependence upon online communication increases, so does our need for tools to facilitate that communication. Most companies operate using platforms such as Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, while also integrating with other platforms. While each platform serves a specific purpose, managing multiple conversations and tasks across several locations becomes a challenge.
Solution: Centralize Communication
The key to unifying communication is to use an all-in-one tool. Companies must evaluate their spending to identify bottlenecks, and also to find “leaks,” where potential profit is being lost. Monthly subscriptions and licenses for professional access to a handful of organizational tools add up quickly, creating an unnecessary potential for financial hemorrhaging. Instead, companies can invest in one tool that does it all, like a software Swiss-Army knife. Not only will this consolidation bring simplicity, but one platform eliminates the need for multiple employee trainings on different tools.
How To Use Gmelius To Centralize Communication
We already explored the shared inbox solution Gmelius offers to simplify email management and collaborate more easily. In addition to this condensed solution, Gmelius also enables teams to expand through integrations with a variety of software tools and popular applications. To help unify your team communications on one platform, Gmelius integrates with everyday tools such as Slack, Google Workspace, Zoom, and Loom so team members can sync conversations and schedule meetings from within Gmail. This allows teams to expand their reach through different communication channels, while managers maintain a handle on the overall strategy—as well as the company purse strings.
4. Time Management
There are only so many workable hours in a day. The beauty of remote work is having the flexibility to choose how and when you complete your tasks. While many companies still opt for traditional work hours, others are pronouncing the standard 9-5 schedule a dying concept. Whichever model you choose, communication often presents a challenge due to the increased number of digital tools. Even with a flexible schedule, online coordination via email and instant messaging still takes up valuable work time.
Solution: Automate Tasks To Expedite Workflow
For remote workers, optimizing working hours is vital for effective time management. Distractions arrive unexpectedly, and in a variety of forms, from extra video conferences to increased email responses and instant messages.
Automation helps make the most out of your working hours. Most menial tasks can be automated, particularly if your team operates using a Gmail shared inbox. While email consumes hours of the average worker's day, you can eliminate repetitive tasks by setting automation rules to:
- send auto-replies
- schedule emails
- sort emails
- delete unwanted emails
- send email reminders
Utilizing automation rules streamlines grunt work, allowing teams to focus on critical tasks.
How To Use Gmelius for Time Management
Gmelius offers powerful automation rules to expedite daily company processes, and email is still at the center of most company operations. As an essential tool in daily operations, communication errors are inevitable. Gmelius reduces the potential for errors by allowing teams to set workflow automation rules to assign and delegate tasks, automate company emails, improve response times, and ensure SLA policies, so you never miss an opportunity to succeed.
The image above illustrates workflow automation. If an email contains the word “return,” then the email can be directly assigned to John, the team member who manages returns. This helps streamline customer support requests and ensure emails receive swift responses.
Emails that contain the word “order” can be assigned automatically to a Kanban board designated for orders. Gmelius’ automation rules revolutionize how companies operate by reducing common distractions and increasing daily operations with just a few clicks.
5. Tracking Productivity
With team members scattered across multiple locations, it’s difficult for managers to determine if a workflow is productive. Additionally, ensuring a balanced workload among team members is further complicated without the option of dropping by an employee’s office for a quick chat.
Solution: Meetings + Analytics = A Recipe for Success
Scheduling additional meetings or check-in calls keeps managers looped in about individual member statuses. These check-ins also help boost team morale by offering an extra opportunity to connect in the lonely world of remote work. Analytics offers clear visibility into how your team is progressing and helps companies identify opportunities for improvement. Increased transparency helps managers better understand the time required to complete projects and measure changes in workflow efficiency.
How To Use Gmelius To Track Productivity
Gmelius has two core features that help managers connect with team members to solve remote communication challenges: Gmelius meeting scheduler and Google calendar integration. Both features simplify the process of scheduling meetings because Gmelius allows team members to share calendar availability from within Gmail. You no longer need to leave your inbox to connect with colleagues. Simply send your availability, and team members can select an appropriate meeting time while also inserting a Zoom or Google Meet link to streamline the process.
Additionally, Gmelius offers team analytics to give managers instant visibility into a team's Gmail activity. Analytics generates detailed reports on projects and team workload that can be filtered by team, productivity, or specific conversations. Gmelius analytics makes it easy to monitor statuses and resolution times for important activities.
Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a critical metric for ensuring growth. Gmelius makes this possible by giving managers an inside look at assigned email conversations, as well as the average time to close assignments. Continuous optimization keeps a tight hold on team performance and allows for adjustments to business workflows based on the busiest and most productive times. Metrics also ensure workload is distributed evenly among team members to prevent employee burnout or assignment overload.
Communication presents intrinsic challenges for remote teams. How a company addresses these challenges is what determines an operation’s outcome as successful or not. Gmelius offers a scalable communication and collaboration platform that is ideally suited for remote and hybrid teams. With everything from communication to analytics located on one seamless platform, remote managers can address communication challenges proactively.
If you are looking for solutions to your team's remote working communication challenges, check out our features and integrations and learn how Gmelius is built to improve team communication and collaboration. Ready to get started? Sign up today!