Along with benefits of improved productivity and reduced commute time, there are challenges in remote, mobile and telework environments. Consistent and reliable communications is cited as a common challenge among remote workers and their colleagues.
Meetings and face-to-face interaction are necessary in any business. In a remote work environments, it is still important to maintain strong communications to have effective team communication and collaboration. Although there are many types of non face-to-face communication methods, most offices use the primary three; phone, email and instant messaging.
With these communication tools it is important to establish clear guidelines of use and expectations. A lack of responsiveness reinforces the belief that remote workers are neither working nor producing results. For instance if there was a in the office daily check-in established either one-on-one or in a group, determine how to do that check-in via other communication options.
When a manager or staff person needs to get a hold of an employee immediately, determine which communication tool is most appropriate for the team. Be clear on expectations of responsiveness with each communication method. For example, a guideline might be with e-mail a 24-hour response is expected whereas with phone communications within one to two hours.