Remote Work

Communicating Effectively in Remote Teams

Collaborating and communicating with others is essential to online working. The following are steps for communicating with remote teams.

Schedule Communication

  • It’s nearly impossible to communicate too much when it comes to managing a remote team.
  • Schedule monthly, weekly or daily team meetings. It’s important that communication isn’t just an abstract goal but a clearly outlined, measurable and achievable benchmark.
  • Having a shared calendar is a great, easy way to keep everyone on the same page.

Give Each Communication Platform a Purpose

  • If there are too many different places to communicate, they can end up serving only as a distraction.
  • By assigning separate tasks for each platform, the whole process is streamlined. For example, use Slack for progress updates and Zoom for meetings. Also share calendars

Be Careful With Tone

  • It’s easy to forget is that text and emails rarely conveys tone.
  • State things clearly and avoid sarcasm.

Use Zoom Video Conference Calls When Possible

  • Zoom video conference calls are the closest thing you’ll get to in-person meetings with your remote team.
  • Seeing each other encourages productivity and staying on task, whereas audio-only calls leave room for distraction.

Be positive

  • Don’t forget to tell your employees what they’re doing right.
  • Constructive criticism goes a long way, but without some positivity now and then employees will only come to dread your feedback.
  • Encouragement is one of the most effective things a manager can do.

Managing Remote Teams

In the online learning world, it’s essential to manage remote teams. The following are steps for managing team members who are in different locations.

Set expectations and define objectives

  • Be proactive and define the objectives you want your team to achieve.
  • Detail the plan on how to achieve team goals.
  • Hold remote employees accountable. Give them goals to achieve on a weekly or quarterly basis. Evaluate their job performance the same way you would if you worked in the same office with them.

Encourage communication

  • Don’t let remote workers feel “remote” or “forgotten.”
  • Establish regularly scheduled meetings that attempt to accommodate team members’ availability.
  • Stress to team members that they have an obligation to stay in regular contact.

Get to know remote team members

  • Bond with remote team members to build trust, empathy and camaraderie.
  • Make them feel a part of the organization by spending the first few minutes of a meeting to discuss weekend plans, kids and engage in other small talk and casual conversation.

Use Zoom Video Conference Calls When Possible

  • Zoom video conference calls can spark spur-of-the-moment conversations.
  • These talks can lead to new creative ideas and brainstorming sessions.
  • Video conversations can be the remote equivalent of gathering around the water cooler.

Be positive

  • Don’t forget to tell team members what they’re doing right.
  • Constructive criticism goes a long way, but without some positivity now and then employees will only come to dread your feedback.
  • Encouragement is one of the most effective things a manager can do.

Working in Virtual Teams

Virtual teams consist of people who rarely visit a central office or work in remote locations. What follows are some steps on how to successfully be a part of a virtual team.

Know your role and job

  • Know exactly what tasks and goals your team leader wants you to achieve.
  • Know a specific timetable for when your virtual team needs these tasks completed.

Listen to feedback

  • Ask for constructive criticism from management and team leaders. Use this input to better achieve your tasks and goals.
  • Trust your fellow team members and leaders. This will translate into better performances for both the team and yourself.

Get to know your team members

  • Don’t just talk business with fellow team members.
  • Spend the first few minutes of each interaction, talking about weekend plans or friends and family. This will build camaraderie and make it more likely that team members work together to achieve a common goal.
  • Use Zoom video conference calls as often as possible. Speaking to a team member face-to-face- even through Zoom – fosters communication.

Make sure to collaborate

  • Use various social platforms – email, Zoom, Slack – to collaborate and share ideas with fellow team members.
  • Use cloud-based platforms to allow multiple team members to have input on a project or documentation.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and be flexible to communication opportunities with fellow team members.

Be positive and stay motivated

  • Praise team members when they make a key contribution.
  • Congratulate each other on a project well done.
  • Motivated and appreciated team members lead to a better performing virtual team.


Ergonomics is defined as “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”.

Posture Tips

  • Position your back straight or reclined slightly
  • Your forearms and thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor
  • Your feet should be supported by the floor (or a footrest if the desk height isn’t adjustable).
  • Your wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms.
  • Your head should be level (and facing forward, not off to one side), with your eyes looking slightly downward (at a point between the middle and top of your monitor).
  • Shoulders should be relaxed, not hunched up, with your upper arms hanging naturally at your sides.

Chair Tips

  • Your seat should be height-adjustable.
  • When you stand next to the chair, the highest point of the seat should be just below your kneecap.
  • Your chair’s lumbar support should be height-adjustable to fit the small of your back.
  • When seated, you shouldn’t feel any pressure at the back of your knees (which should be slightly higher than, and about a fist’s distance from, the edge of the seat).

It’s important to ensure your space has adequate lighting—neither too little nor too much in the form of glare. Incorporate natural light into your space if possible. Be aware if there is bright light shining into your eyes (from behind your monitor) or onto the monitor (from behind you), which is undesirable.

For more information, access the USC Environmental Health & Safety Ergonomics webpage.