How to Use Visuals for Effective Remote Team Communication
Remote team communication can be challenging for businesses. Especially when staff members haven’t been given enough time to adjust to this new model of work.
The personal connection that comes with teams occupying the same space disappears. This paves the way for miscommunication and misinformation.
While team chat tools and emails are thriving right now, there is another way to ensure remote teams are on the same page: visual communication.
A picture can share a thousand words and do so concisely and quickly—40% of people respond better to visuals than text. This is why teams that have had to go remote should be utilizing more visual communication to stay in touch.
We outline how to use visuals in your remote communication so you can maintain your workflow.
Playbook for Remote Teams
Everyone has had to make the swift move into remote working. As a result, it can be confusing deciphering the processes that need to be followed.
To ease the concerns of your employees, you can create a playbook outlining the following:
- Which tools you will be using
- What the processes for communicating will be
- How and when members of the team can be reached
A playbook is an excellent tool for ensuring that the entire company is aligned and working collaboratively.
Look at these white paper examples for inspiration on creating a playbook.
You will see that they are text-heavy, but also have room for visuals like images and icons.
This makes readability much easier—by incorporating icons, you can draw the eye to more salient points in the paper.
And here’s an unusual bonus you can get from creating a playbook. You can publish it on your blog or as a white paper for lead generation or as potentially viral content.
Most companies are in the same boat as you. They aren’t sure how to adjust to remote working and they are looking to others for guidance.
Sharing your methods and findings with others will place you as a thought leader in your industry. And you can also learn some tips from others on the way.
When you’re managing remote teams, you will find yourself spending a lot of time in video meetings as it’s necessary for staying in contact with each other.
Though video conferencing is great for seeing your colleagues, it isn’t always good for communication. For one, you still have to explain a lot to get your points across.
Then there’s the trouble with lagging and people dropping out of calls, causing them to miss important messages.
To mitigate these problems, you can design presentations around a select topic, like in the below example.
A strong presentation details the following for the audience:
- What you’re talking about
- Why it’s important
- What should be done about it
- Next steps for the team
And you will find yourself relying on presentations for a number of reasons, such as:
- Pitching to clients
- Forecasting for the next quarter
- Setting goals
- Brainstorming content ideas
- Project management
- Sharing data
One of the most important things to remember about remote team communication is that everyone involved is working from home, with all the distractions that can bring. So you should make your presentations simple. Be sure to add:
- Attractive simple backgrounds
- Relevant images from free stock photo sites like Unsplash
- Charts and graphs
Try and keep the text on your slides to a minimum. No matter what tool you use to present, you are still relying on the Internet, which can lag.
So, avoid any unnecessary risks, and keep your presentation short and to the point. This will ensure your message is received and actioned.
Use More Checklists
When you are in the workplace, you can stop by someone’s desk to check on their progress. When you’re working in remote team communication, that simply isn’t an option.
But work still needs to be done. You could try using team management software like monday.com. But, it’s also a good idea to visualize the week’s tasks and post it in your team messaging platform.
One of the ways you can keep everyone on the same page is by using checklists, like the one below.
Why? Because people love lists—it’s why listicles are so popular. They are designed to break up the text into neat sections. This improves readability and makes the content memorable.
For remote team communication, checklists are an effective way to ensure that tasks are completed on time. It also helps to avoid any work being duplicated.
Making your checklists more visually appealing is a great way to keep your fellow employees engaged. Pops of color and the judicious use of icons make the list easier to navigate.
However, when using color, check to make sure that your color scheme is accessible to all audiences.
Keeping track of deadlines can be a chore at the best of times. But when you’re managing remote teams, it can be near-impossible.
However, there are ways to use visuals to keep track of deadlines. You can also use a timeline for projects, tasks, and even onboarding.
To do this, create a timeline that details the following:
- What task needs to be completed
- Who is in charge of the task
- When it needs to be completed by
The visual timeline above makes it easier for people to follow and track their progress.
And the timeline can be negotiated depending on workloads. It may not always be possible to stick to deadlines. Workloads change and new tasks appear so adjust the timeline accordingly.
Another reason why timelines come in handy when managing remote teams? They act as progress reports.
You won’t have to double-check what people are doing because that information will be recorded in the timeline.
Design Templated Content
When you are working towards improving remote team communication, you don’t want to have to recreate content. But there is a way to make this process easier.
Consider creating templates—for both external and internal content—like this weekly report.
The reason templates are so useful is because of their reusability. You can keep copying the template each week and submit your remote report via email or Slack.
If you have a template, all you need to do is change the colors and text. The rest of the content can remain the same.
But another reason that templates are helpful is because of how coherent they make communication. If you use too many types of content forms to communicate, people are likely to become confused.
For example, crisis communications should have a consistent look and feel, whether you’re using them for internal messaging or for external stakeholders–both for branding and consistency.
Plus, a template will ensure everyone knows what relevant field is being discussed. You can create templates for a number of different areas—presentations, timelines, and checklists.
Templates are particularly useful for presentation designs, as they need to be branded. This is especially true when sharing the presentations with external parties.
Timelines and checklists can be templated for different teams and used for a variety of purposes—not just remote communication but also for tracking projects.
A few things to remember when creating a template:
- You don’t have to create a template from scratch—there are online resources like infographic makers and templates for personal and business use
- Color-code sections of your template for better readability
- Make time blocks for timeline templates or project deadlines
- Use holding symbols and icons that can be swapped for more relevant ones depending on the context
- Create sections to add images—these will make your templates more engaging for the audience
- Keep templates branded—use the brand logo, colors, and fonts
Once you create a bank of templated content, it will be easier for everyone to be on the same page.
Charts and Graphs
Sharing data and numbers can be challenging at the best of times. When your teams are remote and have to communicate using technology, this becomes even more difficult.
Data runs the world so there’s no escaping it especially as you will find yourself sharing more data-driven content with your remote team.
What kind of data will you be sharing with your remote teams? Here are some examples:
- Displaying growth or decline
- Visualizing goals
- To compare statistics
- To correlate facts
- Document workflow
- Project management
How can you make it easier to share data with teams without confusing anybody? You can make attractive charts and graphs.
But we aren’t talking about the monotone charts you can make in Excel.
Using online resources, you can create detailed, beautiful charts that will easily convey information, like the example below.
When you visualize data, keep a few things in mind:
- Determine the goal of your chart
- Use images—as a background or to highlight data points
- Incorporate icons to illustrate facts and examples
- Don’t be afraid of incorporating colors to highlight data points—it helps make the data easier to absorb
Following these steps will make the data easier to process and will give your numbers more context. In this way, you can tell a story with your data.
When you are removed from your colleagues through technology, making information easier to access and understand is paramount. That is what will stem the flow of miscommunication.
Isolation from society is hard for everyone—people are generally social beings. And in the workplace, being social comes with the territory.
Company culture binds teams together and makes the workplace what it is. But how do you translate that company culture to the digital sphere?
There are actually a number of ways that employees can socialize with each other online. Virtual trivia nights, dance parties, watch parties, and board games are all the rage now.
To make the process of ‘socializing’ online more fun, you can create virtual posters and invites. These can be as creative and fun as you want—so they capture the atmosphere of the event.
You can use remote team templates to build your own visuals—and adapt them for each event.
Visuals make content easier to understand—they are processed 60000 times faster than text—which is why you should be using them to communicate with remote teams.
To avoid misunderstanding, use clear and relevant visuals that will give your messaging context. This will help keep teams on the same page and on track to complete their goals.
Most of all, visual communication will ensure that remote workers stay connected with each other and the company.
That is the best way to guarantee that you come out on the other side of this situation as a cohesive organization.