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Four Strategies to Improve Remote Work Communication

By: Clare Kumar | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter | Feb 12, 2021

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Committee Note: As we continue to navigate the new normal, we will need to think intentionally about certain communication do’s and don’ts in this new climate!  Based on feedback received from our MPI Toronto Chapter Survey, we are happy to share this checklist of strategies!   

We know that effective communication is a key component to being productive: we need to understand and to be understood while conserving energy and time. Communication options have become more limited now that we are working remotely, and we must find ways to stay connected to our peers. In recent years we have been invited to “bring our whole selves to work”, but now that work has landed in our living rooms and with video communication readily available, we cannot fail but to see each other in our full humanity as we strive to continue to be effective at our jobs and in supporting our families. Here are four strategies to keep you connected, prevent exhaustion, and help keep you both productive and present.

1: Be more intentional.

If collocated with colleagues, much interaction was likely spontaneous and triggered simply by seeing someone. With such cues gone, communication must be well planned in terms of quality and quantity to ensure you are striking the right balance between staying in touch and on top of things and being overwhelmed by too many meetings. A new hire may need more from you than someone established in a role, so be specific and personal in your assessment.

Strategy: Think carefully about the type and frequency of meetings you require, and who really needs to be there. Define the purpose of the meeting and the expected contribution of each participant. Pare back commitments to what is essential and build interaction, as necessary. Do a meeting audit at least quarterly to eliminate unnecessary meetings and adjust duration and frequency to reduce meeting bloat.

2: Choose your communication medium carefully.

Video fatigue is real. 1 It may even provide a false sense of connection. For example, when I am speaking on a video call, if I am to make other meeting participants feel like I am giving them my full attention, I must focus on the camera, not on individual faces. The impression is that I can see everyone, but in fact, I cannot attend to the visual cues the video provides. Talking on the phone removes this distraction and may let you better attend to verbal cues such as tone and emotion along with the words.

Strategy: Determine which part of your meeting video communication will enrich. It might be five minutes at the beginning when you are building team connection and/or a few minutes at the end for a strong close. Share your request for video participation at specific times within the agenda.


3: Be thoughtful of the viewer.

Have you been in a meeting where a colleague is walking around holding their camera phone giving you an undesirable “Blair Witch Project” experience, or perhaps so badly lit so you are squinting to see them? What about intrusive background noise or poor connectivity causing erratic sound? Distractions like this sabotage comprehension.

Strategy: Invest in quality sound with a separate microphone and minimize intrusive noise3 and set up supportive visuals by adequately lighting your face, minimizing glare, and removing background distractions such as moving ceiling fans.

4: Incorporate compassion.

Employees are facing a myriad of challenges, from the overwhelm of home schooling to extreme loneliness under lockdown. For the first time in recent history, we understand struggle collectively. Such struggle has always existed for employees, but it has never been culturally acceptable to talk about it. This has changed dramatically.

Strategy: Integrate care for your colleagues in your communication. Seek to understand each other as human beings and offer support when you can. To unearth a practical, helpful response, ask “What do you need to succeed?”.


1: Video call fatigue is real 44% percent of Canadian workers surveyed have experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic, and 15% say meeting virtually is exhausting.

2: Blair Witch Project camera work induced nausea

3: Noise reduction software

About the Author:

Clare Kumar
Productivity Catalyst
Linked In:



Clare Kumar | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter

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