For many of us, working remotely is now the new normal. Your team has been doing it for a few months now and you likely have discovered a few issues or areas where your communication channels break down. In my 25 years of experience working remotely and helping others do the same, most businesses fall into one of two categories.

Undersharing

In this scenario, your team has moved to a remote workforce and doesn't have the proper communication channels and processes in place to keep everyone in the loop. You may go days without hearing from some team members, and you often find yourself having to go out of your way to get details about projects that they are working on. This happens most often with teams that are used to working in the same office together and relied heavily on office pop-ins or water cooler meetings.

Oversharing

On the other end of the spectrum you have the oversharing teams. The ones that send out dozens of emails each and every day keeping the rest of the team "in the loop" on everything that they are doing throughout the day. And while there are some good bits of information hidden with those emails. Having to go through 100 emails a day to find key updates isn't a good use of anyone's time.

I want to share with you some of the ways that my team has streamlined their communications while working remotely.

1. Prioritize Emails

I get hundreds of emails every day. And that makes it really difficult to keep on top of. So as a company we use the "1, 2, 3" subject line system.

Here's how it works. Simply start off your subject line with a 1, 2, or 3.

  • "1" means that the email is time sensitive and important and needs action immediately. (I get these kind of emails once or twice a month)

  • "2" means that you have to take some action, but it doesn't need to be addressed right away. (This is where the majority of emails fall from my team)

  • "3" means no action is required on the part of the recipient, it's simply an FYI.    

This straightforward system allows us to scan our inboxes quickly to know which emails need immediate attention and which ones can wait till we have time. 

2. Standardize Reporting

Another way to streamline communications with your team is to standardize the way that you do your reporting. The easier it is to obtain and absorb the necessary information the better. For example, I can get a quick and accurate feel for what's going on in my company, department by department, by reviewing each departmental leader's Big Rock Report. I see what they have prioritized as their tasks for the week, what victories I get to congratulate them on, challenges I may need to support them through, and the other bulleted key updates from their past week. If you've ever enjoyed the speed at which you can get a quick sense of an area of your business by reviewing a powerfully designed dashboard or KPI scoreboard, you've experienced the way standardized information makes things easier.

Sit down and think about where you are lacking details or reporting and work with your team to get that information sent out on a regular basis.

There are a lot of advantages to working with a remote workforce, and when set up correctly there is no reason why you can't thrive while apart. Talk to your team members about email and reporting and look for other areas that you may have oversharing or under sharing concerns. Good luck!