Inner Leader

How to improve team communication when working remotely

Effective remote team communication and team-building for business

Remote work is on the rise. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the number of British telecommuters was growing every year.

Since the coronavirus, an astounding 47 per cent of staff have been working remotely.

Right now, virtual teamwork is non-negotiable. But the fact that it increases productivity and reduces staff turnover means it’s sure to play a significant role in the future of business.

Why is effective team communication important?

With your team dialling in from home, effective remote communication is more important than ever. Here’s why.

Teams need to feel psychologically safe to establish trust and feel engaged with their colleagues.

Staff Satisfaction
Employees that trust their team leader are happier, more effective, and more successful. Plus they’re less likely to leave.

Teams that communicate well work faster and with more accuracy.

The best ideas come from effective collaboration.

Communication empowers staff to grow, creating the managers of the future.

Without effective teamwork skills, success is an uphill battle.

Challenges and pitfalls of virtual team communications

With more teams than ever communicating remotely, there’s plenty of room for improvement. What should we look out for to keep communication effective?

In the office, an unstructured team is dynamic and agile. You assign tasks according to the needs of the day. Virtually, a lack of structure in a workflow or team can lead to a loss of accountability, missed deadlines, and mistrust.

In person, team spirit spurs on progress. You meet goals more quickly and with fluidity. Online, it’s all too easy for a workflow to stall or stagnate when there’s a lack of cohesive impetus driving it forward.

Your team members are confident in face-to-face meetings where they can read the room. Working remotely, misunderstandings, varying communication styles or a lack of communication increase the risk of conflict.

Technical Glitches
It’s unavoidable. Even with the slickest of setups, technical mishaps will occur. But if your team is clued-in, making progress and on schedule, there’s space for the odd connection issue.

The key to sidestepping these challenges and pitfalls? Skilled interpersonal communication that focuses on the recipient.

How can I improve my team's communication?

Without clear communication, all ideas and thoughts are at risk of being misinterpreted. The Shannon Weaver model offers a practical guide to improving your communication skills immediately.

Shannon Weaver communication model

The model demonstrates the importance of focusing on your audience and choosing how to make your message easy for them to decode.

These five steps provide a roadmap to ensuring your remote communication is received and understood as intended.

1. Source
As the source of the message, consider what you want to say and why it needs to be said. Check if your message is accurate, useful and relevant.

2. Encoding
Choose the best style and format to share your information. How will your message be best received? How much detail do you need to include? Is your audience going to understand that jargon? When sending over a report, be sure to provide the relevant context to give it meaning.

3. Channel
Consider the best medium through which to share your message. If face-to-face is off-limits, is it best to write an email or make a call? Should the call be one-to-one or a group meeting?

If there’s a lot of detailed information to process, a written format is better. Your colleagues have the time to sit and digest your message. Whereas, performance-related feedback should always happen in private and face-to-face. Your recipient will benefit from seeing your body language and hearing your tone of voice.

4. Decoding
Think about the circumstances under which your audience will receive your message. What do they know already? How invested are they in what you have to say? In written communication, highlighting and bullet points help ensure your message makes it to your recipient intact.

5. Receiver
Your final consideration for any message you send is the receiver. What situations, ideas and feelings might influence their understanding and response? Study the feedback you receive on any communication and identify ways to improve next time.

It’s up to each of us to flex our communication style according to the needs of our recipient.

In team communication, it’s essential to recognise that each colleague brings their own unique approach to interactions. We need to encode our messages effectively according to their individual needs.

Conscious communication:

Put simply, the best remote workers know that every person communicates and thinks differently. This is an essential team-building skill. To succeed, your team needs to learn their own and their teammates’ communication and thinking styles. They must then channel this knowledge into every communication opportunity.

They need to learn to speak each others’ language.

But how do we get to know the needs of our teammates?

Everything DiSC assessment

That’s where Everything DiSC comes in.

These communication skills development modules offer fascinating outcomes.

· First, your team members will learn about their own personality, communication and behavioural style.

· Second, they will understand the styles and preferences of their teammates and how best to navigate those differences.

At Inner Leader, we offer two types of DiSC assessment.



A learning experience that combines personalised insights with team development to help participants build and maintain strong relationships at work.

Your team will learn to understand themselves and their colleagues, identifying different priorities, preferences, and values. They will come away with actionable strategies to help them adapt to different working styles, improving collaboration and efficiency.


The Agile DiSC assessment focuses on emotional intelligence (EQ) training.

The course mixes classroom learning, emotional intelligence development and mindset coaching. Team members learn to develop emotional intelligence and agility in their workplace interactions. They will identify which EQ skills come more naturally to them and which they need to practice. Then, they will come together to learn to identify each others’ needs and flex their own behaviour accordingly. They will leave the EQ training empowered to communicate outside their comfort zone, no matter the situation.

Decoding needs: more productive, more satisfied

Every DiSC training starts with a personal assessment. This takes 15 minutes to complete and is conducted online.

Participants receive a 26-page profile that outlines their personal style, their emotional intelligence mindsets, strengths, agile opportunities, actionable strategies and action planning for the future.

The result is a roadmap to your personal style, needs and priorities. You might find you land firmly in one quadrant, or you’re a mix of a few styles.

These people are results-drive. They’re direct, strong-willed and firm. They take immediate action and aren’t afraid to shake things up and challenge the status quo.

Other types may find them to be a little blunt, forceful, intimidating or even insensitive.

Lively and outgoing, these employees value collaboration and take quick action when they see an opportunity. They’re optimists who are enthusiastic and high-spirited.

Others may perceive their approach to be sloppy, even a little reckless.

These are our even-tempered colleagues. They’re supportive, accommodating and patient. They value maintaining stability, and are humble and tactful as a result.

If you’re not in this group, you may perceive them to be too accommodating, a little indecisive.

Reserved and private, these employees value a systematic and logical approach to work. They are consistent, analytical and precise when working towards a goal.

Other styles might consider these workers to be cautious and a little slow.

The first important step in a DiSC assessment is to recognise your own strengths. The next crucial step is to identify and accept those of your teammates.

This knowledge empowers your team to connect on a more productive level, solve problems and resolve or even sidestep conflict.


The benefits of investing in psychometric assessment

If you’re spending valuable time and money on team-building, you need to know it’s going to be worth it. These are the benefits of investing in a valid and established psychometric assessment such as DiSC.

For the individual
Individual participants gain greater self-awareness. They walk away with a better understanding of their own strengths and recognition of their future potential.

They will feel equipped and empowered to work productively with their team. They’ll have a toolkit of practical tips to collaborate with people, even the ones they find difficult. They can expect smoother interactions with team members which go their way more often.

For the team
The DiSC training is an opportunity for dialogue around the functioning of the team. It’s a chance to build respect and trust to bring the team closer together. Collectively, the team will identify strengths within themselves and each other. They will recognise where they could play to those strengths. Areas of conflict will be addressed and teams will collaborate on how to avoid future misunderstandings. They will learn to value each others’ differences and see how this makes the team stronger, not weaker.

A more united team has the gift of agility. They will be able to face bumps in the road with confidence knowing they have the emotional intelligence and flexibility to adapt. They are future-proof.

For the business
Empowered employees and united teams make for a more productive business. You can expect to see an upturn in everything from customer relationships to idea generation and output.

With an emotionally intelligent workforce, you can map the agile managers of the future.

7 step formula for improving team communication

Right now, many teams are facing extended remote-work stints with no visible end. Here are some tips for improving your team’s communication and navigating this new world of work.

1. Team culture
Maintain a feeling of unity with some non-work chat. Share weekend stories and memes over instant messenger. Make time to socialise. Even if it is on Zoom, it will help cultivate a sense of normality and that all-important team bonding.

2. Communicate
Ensure your communication is clear and regular. This builds trust and sets the tone to encourage your team to do the same. You might find it helpful to share written guidelines that detail time-frames for email responses or call availability. This puts everyone on the same page and maintains momentum.

3. A common goal
Even though you’re apart, it’s important to establish and refer to a common goal. Regular calls and weekly sprints towards interim milestones are helpful here.

4. Track (and celebrate) progress
Conduct progress reports on your regular team calls. Assign tasks, check in on teammates and reaffirm accountability. Celebrate those wins. Show appreciation for your team’s efforts.

5. Be inclusive
Your team may be feeling lonely, excluded or demotivated away from the office. Allow time for everyone to communicate. Value their input by listening and responding thoughtfully.

6. Manage conflict
If conflict breaks out in your team, handle it with openness and clarity. Give all parties agency in the resolution of the disagreement.

7. Get agile
Learn the working styles, needs and preferences of your team. Use this knowledge to communicate better and lead a united, effective team.

Of course, unearthing each individual’s working needs and priorities can be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why so many organisations turn to us to facilitate their DiSC training. Benefit from an expert trainer, outside perspective and valuable insights to lead your team into the future.

In the challenging economic times we face, both now and in the future, only the strongest teams will flourish. Teams that have the communication skills to connect with clarity, consciousness and agility.

Tell us more about your team and we’ll suggest the right programme for you.

Tell us where you want your team to be

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