How to Communicate with Your Remote Team and Clients

by | Feb 16, 2016 | Freelancing, Remote work

Communication is the essence of how people connect – and it’s the foundation of everything in our social relationships, from friendships to romance to our professional lives; even how we interact with our teams and our clients.

In fact, search the word “communication” on Google, and on the first page, you’ll find guides to effective communication peppered in between the word’s very definition. It’s obvious that with communication comes difficulty in communication, too, because we are all unique human beings with our own novel, past experiences. Just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean we speak the same language of life – and with that, misunderstandings happen between our friends, teams, and clients all the time.

To make it more difficult, most of our communication is nonverbal; researchers have found that you can gather a lot more information about someone’s reaction from what they don’t say; or, more specifically, the observation of their facial expressions, gestures, and posture, since a very small amount of communication is actually verbal in nature.

As remote workers, most of our work is either behind a computer screen or on the phone, without a reliable ability to seek out nonverbal cues. Even with videoconferencing widely available, according to sociologists, there is no substitute for being in person when it comes to accurate communication.

For freelancers, communication is more difficult to pull off, but it’s just as essential for work success. You may be wondering how to ensure that you are communicating with your clients and team members to the best of your ability while working remote – and what you can do to encourage communication if you don’t feel you are receiving enough, whether it is poor feedback, incomplete briefs, or a lack of team cohesion and comradery.

Luckily, there are tools and strategies available to you as a freelancer, based on a wide variety of communication needs – today’s digital world, thankfully, is a very friendly place for the remote worker who seeks a better way to communicate.

Like a long distance relationship, it takes a little extra work to keep an offsite or out of state client or team engaged. Clients, especially, need to trust your work and find your communication transparent, if you’re going to keep them in the long run. It’s also helpful if you want to keep stress to a minimum in your own life, too!

Don’t forget that good customer service is an important feature that every online-based business should have if they want to stay competitive in such a noisy marketplace. Helping your clients learn how to interact with you in an online business relationship is just as crucial – so they don’t get the wrong idea about what working with a remote company is like.

Even though remote work is easy for you, it may be a strange concept to older generations of professionals or clients who have never done it before. To save headaches on both ends, show them the tools you use to get the job done, so they know that even though they can’t see the work that you’re doing, that you have the tools to complete the job successfully, alleviating a lot of anxiety on both sides.

If you use tools like Buffer Transparent Email, you can collaborate with your clients and your project team in a truly transparent way, as every single email on the Buffer system is public, allowing each wheel of the team to view communication across the group at all times. No matter if someone is unavailable, in a different time zone, or in a different department, there is no one in the dark.

It goes both ways, because as remote workers, we want to be involved in our clients’ team activities too, so we can help serve them better. There’s nothing worse than feeling disconnected from a team, whether it’s one you’ve built, or a lack of connection between different freelancers on a client’s project. In today’s omni-channel environment, staying connected across skill sets and departments is essential. Tools like Buffer allow this to happen.

Team chat tools like Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype, HipChat, and Yammer help keep remote teams connected. If you’re not using one of these already, you should really consider doing so. You’d be amazed at just how much a simple chat tool can assist teams in getting their questions answered faster and their needs met quicker, with less time on the phone and typing emails and more time finishing projects.

No matter if your communication issues are between your clients, your project team, or both, once you know your specific communication issue, you can usually alleviate the problem and get rid of it quickly – as long as everyone is honest with each other, hence the need for transparency. The good news for remote workers is that there are many options for enhancing communication – and they will only continue to flourish as remote work grows.

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