When we are co-located as a team, communication takes on a very natural route. We are in fact constantly communicating in an office setting, to the point where we sometimes need to work from home just to get our work done. Most of our communication at the office is synchronous, meaning it occurs in real time.
The biggest challenge that we face when we are working in a remote team is that most of our communication switches from being synchronous (running into each other at the office canteen) to being asynchronous (emails, documents, etc).
Conversations that would take a few minutes at the office sometimes end up extending over days. On the other hand the instantaneity of some communication tools, mean that there is an expectation of constant availability and immediate response.
We have tools for pretty much everything. But collaboration problems rarely arise from the tools themselves, and are more likely to arise from the processes that we apply when using those tools.
Organizations will have to rethink their internal communication guidelines and ensure their employees understand how to use the tools at their disposal. It's a good idea to start by making a list of the available tools and communication channels, then categorizing them by how asynchronous and collaborative they are.
This can slowly develop into clear guidelines for which channels to use depending on what the desired outcome is.
We have created a 3 step worksheet to help you in defining the available and appropriate channels for your internal comms. You can download it by clicking here.