Effective communication is a critical tenet of successful teams. Fully remote and hybrid teams encounter unique challenges that result from the lack of in-person cues available in fully co-located teams. These communication challenges common to remote and hybrid teams include:
- Misaligned preferences, norms, and needs
- Information overload
- Interruptions to productivity flow
- Communication gaps
There’s no shortage of communication tools that aim to solve these communication challenges. Yet an overabundance of tools can lead to new communication problems. At Workplaceless, when we support teams who are struggling with communication, we often suggest establishing a team Communication Charter.
What is a Communication Charter?
A Communication Charter is a team agreement that establishes the norms for when, where, and how teams should communicate based on a variety of work scenarios. Your charter should encompass all the channels and tools your team uses to communicate with internal or external stakeholders. Within those channels the charter should address the various message or information types and set expectations for prioritization, response timing, or escalation protocols.
Why Does Your Team Need a Communication Charter?
Here are six ways a Communication Charter can help your team.
Reason 1: More Effectively Use Your Existing Tools
With an abundance of virtual communication tools available, teams can find themselves overwhelmed by communication, wasting time trying to decide what tool to use or where to find information, and frustrated with inconsistencies related to how tools are used.
A clear charter can help remote and hybrid teams gain alignment on how and when each tool in your tool stack should be used.
Reason 2: Spend Less Time Searching for Information
Increases in emails, chats, and documentation have led to information overload. With more information shared in more places than ever before, finding what you need is challenging. Wasting time searching for the information you need is frustrating and inefficient.
A charter identifies where information or decisions should be documented, and therefore where the knowledge can be quickly accessed.
Reason 3: Minimize Interruptions
Constant notifications are disruptive to the flow of work. Default settings for many communication tools lead to a distracting notification per message or response.
With a clear charter, team members avoid sending information through multiple channels and learn how to communicate without increasing notifications and interruptions. A reduction in interruptions means more time for focused work.
Reason 4: Overcome Urgency Bias and Uphold Boundaries
Not every communication requires an immediate response. But misaligned team members find themselves rushing to respond and potentially overworking because response expectations have not been established or are interpreted differently.
A Communication Charter sets expectations about response times by type of communication and channel of communication. Additionally, a clear charter can help to signal team member boundaries and availability—you are focused on deep work, have signed off for the day, etc.
Reason 5: Foster Inclusion on Hybrid Teams
Some tools, channels, and styles of communication are biased towards in-office or remote team members. In-office watercooler conversations are inherently only accessible by in-office employees, while remote employees may have stronger skills and accessibility when it comes to digital-first channels.
The process of creating and reassessing a your charter helps identify any biases or gaps in the accessibility and inclusivity of communication.
Reason 6: Eliminate Ineffective Meetings
Teams often default to meetings when they lack effective asynchronous communication practices. This abundance of meetings across teams of all shapes and sizes is leading to workforce burnout.
A Communication Charter in combination with establishing async-first practices can help teams decide alternative channels to meetings, and create more effective blended meeting habits.