Remote & Async Work 11 min

7 Ways to improve remote employee communication (with examples)

Written by Amanda Day
April 10, 2024
Amanda Day


share to linkedInshare to Twittershare to Facebook
Link copied
to clipboard

As more people work remotely, staying connected with your team is more important than ever.

This guide is all about making that connection stronger and smarter through good communication.

Whether you’re leading a remote team, working from your living room, or collaborating across time zones, effective remote employee communication is the key to keeping things running smoothly.

We’ll start with the basics, showing you how to set up a successful remote communication system. Then, we’ll move on to actionable tips to keep your team connected and fully engaged. 

Let’s get started.

How does remote work affect communication?

Remote communication requires teams to stay connected online, and it’s a shift that’s reshaped how we work. This digital approach has its ups and downs.

First off, the good stuff. Working remotely lets you connect with your fellow team members from anywhere. This not only breaks down walls but also opens up a world of diverse perspectives. Plus, in most cases, it’s much quicker to send a message or file online than to walk to a colleague’s desk.

However, the absence of face-to-face interaction can sometimes lead to miscommunication, and as a remote employee, you might occasionally feel disconnected from your team. But if you have too many meetings to connect with remote colleagues, “meeting fatigue” can negatively impact your productivity and work-life balance.

So, while remote communication helps keep the work flowing, it’s important to strike a balance. You want your team to stay connected and productive without turning into digital zombies.

Signs of poor communication in remote teams

Wondering if your remote team is struggling with communication? Here are some telltale signs to look out for:

Too many meetings

If your team’s calendar is jam-packed with meetings, that might mean you’re not communicating efficiently. 61% of remote employees find themselves in more meetings now than ever before. This could mean more time spent talking about getting work done than actually getting it done.

If you want to reduce the number of unnecessary meetings your teams have, check out our guide on how to run remote meetings.


If there’s a lot of micromanaging going on, that’s often a sign that communication isn’t clear. Employees feel less valued and stressed if they constantly feel like they’re under a microscope.

Missed deadlines

If your team continuously misses deadlines, that’s a red flag. Missing deadlines often happens when instructions or project goals aren’t communicated well, leading to confusion and delays.

Low morale

Watch out for signs of low team spirit. If your team members seem disengaged, poor communication could be the reason why. In fact, 41% of people quit their job because they did not feel connected to the company.

Frequent misunderstandings

Misunderstandings, especially in texts and emails, are common in remote work. Tone and context are hard to get right online, so it's important to use the right tools for important conversations.

How do you communicate effectively with remote employees?

Want to improve communication with your virtual team, even across different time zones? Knowing when to catch up live or leave a message for later and navigating cultural differences is key.

Let’s take a deeper look.

When to use synchronous vs. asynchronous communication

Want to keep your team on the same page? Let’s break down when to use synchronous (real-time) vs asynchronous (anytime) communication when it comes to remote work.

Synchronous communication in remote work is real-time interaction — like a face-to-face conversation but done digitally. Video conferencing (Zoom, Skype) and instant messaging (Slack, Microsoft Teams) tools are great for this. The advantage? Immediate feedback, quickly solving problems, and brainstorming ideas together.

Asynchronous communication is more like leaving a note for someone to read when they can. Email, shared documents (Google Docs), and project management tools (Asana, Trello) fit the bill here. This approach is great for letting team members think things through on their own time, and it’s especially handy if they’re in different time zones.

So, when should you use each? 

Pick synchronous communication for urgent discussions or when you need to bounce ideas around. Choose asynchronous for routine updates or when you want thoughtful, in-depth responses. This balance will help keep your remote team connected and productive, no matter where everyone is.

Overcoming language and cultural barriers

When your remote team is a vibrant mix of cultures and languages, communicating well takes a bit of extra care. 

Here are some tips:

  • Use clear, simple language. Avoid idioms or regional expressions that might confuse non-native speakers.

  • Get to know the unique cultural backgrounds of your team members. This means being mindful of how everyone works and communicates and even remembering their important holidays.

  • Schedule regular, informal check-ins with each team member. This is a great way to clear up any mix-ups and make everyone feel included.

  • Offer resources or training sessions on cultural competence and language skills.

With these tips, you’ll create a welcoming environment with smooth communication.

How to set the right foundation for improved remote employee communication

Building a solid communication framework for your remote team doesn’t have to be complicated. Pick the right tools, lay down clear communication guidelines, and always be open to continuous employee feedback. 

Let’s dive into each of these steps.

Choose the right digital tools

When it comes to remote employee communication, having the right tools in your kit makes all the difference. You’ll need a mix for different needs, including instant messaging, email, video conferencing, and project management software. Make sure the tools you choose are easy for everyone to use.

Here are some popular choices:

  • Slack for quick messages and updates

  • Zoom for all types of video meetings

  • Microsoft Teams for chatting, video calls, and file sharing

  • Email for formal communication

  • Project management tools, like Asana or Trello, for organization

  • Skype for reliable calls and messaging

  • Google Workspace for integrated email and document sharing

Selecting the right mix of these tools to suit your team’s unique style and requirements can dramatically improve remote communication.

Establish communication protocols

Setting up clear communication guidelines is vital for remote teams since they don’t have the usual in-person cues.

Here’s how to create a solid framework:

  • Clarify how quickly you expect replies to different types of messages. This cuts down on confusion and keeps things moving.

  • Schedule meetings that work for different time zones. Decide whether you’ll chat over video, phone, or text.

  • Choose a central spot for storing and sharing team info. This keeps everyone on the same page.

  • Be upfront about when to work and when to log off. This respects employees’ personal time and helps prevent burnout.

  • Set strict rules for handling confidential info and stick to data security standards.

  • Make sure your communication style includes and respects everyone, no matter where they work from.

Also, it’s super helpful to have a go-to guide as part of your communication tools and practices. Incorporate a directory with everyone’s contacts and usernames to allow them to easily reach out.

And don’t forget a guide on who to contact for different issues that may arise. This way, your entire team has all the info they need right.

Continue to improve with feedback

Continuous improvement in remote communication hinges on understanding your team’s needs. Use surveys or polls to ask how they feel about your current communication methods. Find out what’s working and what could be better. This is a great way for leaders to show they’re really listening and value everyone’s input. 

Plus, acting on the feedback you receive not only spruces up your communication methods but also makes your team feel heard and appreciated.

7 actionable tips for improving remote employee communication

Keeping your remote team connected and communicating well doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are seven practical tips to help you boost your team’s communication skills, keep everyone connected, and avoid communication mishaps:

1. Consider context when communicating

Remote messages can sometimes be misinterpreted since you miss out on helpful cues, like facial expressions. To clear up any confusion, provide context at the start using cues like “here’s some positive feedback.”

Also, double-check your tone, as it can make a big difference in keeping your digital conversations clear and kind. A well-placed emoji, for instance, can work wonders in making sure your message comes across just the way you intended.

2. Create a virtual hangout space

Affinity distance is a fancy term for the lack of close connections that remote employees can feel. It’s a real thing — 23% of remote workers feel lonely, 20% find it hard to stay motivated, and 16% have trouble focusing.

The solution? Create a virtual hangout space, like an online break room, on Slack or Teams. Your team can casually chat or share jokes or weekend stories, bringing everyone closer. This is a simple way to give your team that feeling of togetherness, even when they’re miles apart. 

3. Make sure your communications are understood

For important information, use various channels like email, messaging, or even a quick call. Then, follow up to make sure everyone’s on the same page. 

Skip the complex jargon and make sure what you’re saying is easy for everyone to understand. This helps avoid confusion and makes sure no one is isolated from the conversation.

4. Use visuals to explain processes

Have something complex to explain? Swap long-winded text for visuals — they’re a fun, easy way to help your remote team grasp tricky topics without getting bogged down in words. Screen grabs, simple diagrams, flow charts, and even a few icons can say a lot more, a lot quicker.

5. Use one-on-one messaging strategically

In an office, it’s common to see someone quietly share ideas with their manager after a team meeting. But in remote work, those less keen on speaking up might stay quiet. Managers can tackle this issue by reaching out to those they notice don’t speak much during group meetings.

A friendly and causal message can encourage quieter team members to open up. Reaching out also shows that every opinion is valued. Plus, personal check-ins can encourage open communication and foster a more inclusive remote work environment.

6. Integrate new team members effectively

Do you have new recruits on your remote team? Take the time to help them settle in. First, give them the lowdown on how your team communicates, including which collaboration tools to use for what, and the do’s and don’ts of your digital workspace.

Mentorship is a great way to integrate new team members. You can connect new joiners with a veteran team member. This buddy system gives them not only guidance but also a friendly point of contact for any queries they may have.

And don’t forget to loop new recruits into smaller groups or interest groups within the team. This helps them get to know everyone and feel at home.

7. Prevent communication burnout

Feeling frazzled by too much screen time and constant communication? You’re not alone. Here’s how to keep communication burnout at bay:

  • Implement consistent days with no meetings, like “meeting-free Fridays.” No-meeting days give everyone a breather and time to focus on deep work without interruptions.

  • Try not to stack virtual meetings back-to-back. A little break in between them can help everyone recharge.

  • Encourage your team to switch off from work emails and messages once they’re off the clock. With around 63% of remote employees peeking at emails after hours and 34% doing so during vacations, it’s important to have a hard stop at work.

These simple changes can make a huge difference in preventing burnout and improve communication in your remote team.

Give your remote team the best possible start

Stellar communication is the secret to building a strong remote team. Whether it’s a new tool or a fresh approach to preventing communication burnout, the smallest change can make a huge difference.

Partnering with a Global HR platform like Remote also transforms the way you connect with your team. With streamlined onboarding to tailored benefits, your employees feel valued no matter where they’re located. And of course, it's all done through effective remote communication. Get started with Remote today.

Subscribe to receive the latest
Remote blog posts and updates in your inbox.