How to Best Communicate with Remote Employees

Email, text, instant messenger, or a phone call – what’s the best way to communicate with remote employees? BlackHägen Design’s Philip Remedios gives tips on how to engage remote employees.

June 6, 2024

3 Min Read
Image Credit: AndreyPopov via iStock/Getty Images

The American Opportunity Survey reports that 35 % of respondents have access to full-time work and 23% of respondents have access to part-time remote work.

The pandemic fueled the shift from in-office work to remote – but that’s not all that has changed. The culture and climate of working has changed and when it comes to remote work some of the rules have been completely rewritten.

During MD&M South, BlackHägen Design’s Philip Remedios, spoke to MD+DI about the most effective ways to communicate with the current workforce – especially those that are in R&D.  Remedios presented along with Renee Bailey, senior manager of human factors engineering and instructional design at BlackHägen Design’s during a session titled “Navigating Change Management: Best Practices for Hybrid R&D Teams in our Post-COVID World.”

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. What is the biggest change now that we’re embracing this remote way of working.

Remedios: “It was a very easy way to walk around the office and not be intrusive and to be able to see what people are doing – anytime I would feel the need to. You can never get that flexibility in this hybrid world, so we have to make the most of the available tools to be part of people’s lives and to be collaborative – certainly in R&D.  Collaboration is a really big part of doing excellent work and that’s an area I still struggle with as what I call a dinosaur manager.”

“I’m still trying to evolve as quickly as I can, whereas people like Renee – she’s comfortable in this world because she’s been doing it for 20 years. It’s really trying to shed that dinosaur attitude because I know what’s worked in the past. I have to remind myself it doesn’t work anymore.”

What’s the best way to communicate with employees and team members now? I feel like this has changed, too.

Remedios: “The problem with face-to-face is that it’s very intrusive. If someone is right in the middle of something and you come up to them they feel compelled to engage with you and stop what they’re doing. That could have an effect on their ability on what they’re doing and not make a mistake.”

“If you have something that you need to communicate with someone that doesn’t need immediate attention – texting that request to them is a great way because they can pocket it until they’re ready to engage with you. If you come and talk to someone it means ‘I need your immediate attention stop everything you’re doing and focus on me.’  I think that we need to be very disciplined in which way we communicate.”

What’s the best way to communicate with someone?

“Every worker is going to have a different way to best get ahold of them. This comes back to that approach of understanding who you’re working with. Of course [that’s harder] when you have a team of 300 people but if you have a team of 20 people there’s no excuse. Some people react better if you’re talking to them. Some people love to text. Let’s face it texting is a slow way to communicate. Sometimes it’s necessary because they can go back and see what you’ve said vs. if you talk to them on the phone.”

"I think in all cases we have to mix and match the way we communicate and the way the work is understood.”

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