The 10 Best Internal Communication Tools to Engage Remote Employees

Stuart Sinclair - January 18, 2021

Working from home comes with many challenges. Along with difficulties balancing work and family time, distractions with household noise and issues with motivation, there’s one area where many remote workers really struggle. It’s communications. Or to be exact, internal communications. According to Buffer, 20% of remote workers identify internal communications as an obstacle. The lack of a centralised office setting makes even basic communication between employees much more problematic.

As such, internal communication tools have been thrown into the spotlight. Is your current internal communications toolkit up to the task? Tools that may have worked for an office-based team could struggle to meet the needs of a dispersed workforce. In this blog, we take a look at the 10 internal communication tools and tactics that will really connect with remote workers. With so many people currently working remotely, and the overall shift towards a more permanent remote workforce, it’s time to take a fresh look at your methods of internal communication and the tools you’re using to implement them.

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1. News

Keep homeworkers feeling connected with regular news updates and reports

Without regular, daily contact with colleagues and managers, it’s easy for employees to feel out of the loop with company news. And news updates are highly appreciated by workers, whether remote or not. In fact, it’s one of the most valued forms of employee communication.

According to Geckoboard, 80% of employees want leaders to share more information about company performance, while 50% admit to doing their own detective work to find out more about the present status of their company. The problem with the latter approach is that they may uncover a great number of untruths about the organisation. This can start the rumour mill turning, which can be bad for engagement, morale, and productivity.

By contrast, a news feed can be a great way to share information and ensure employees don’t feel as though they're left in the dark. It quells the fears of staff who are looking for updates, without bombarding employees with potentially irrelevant information. Used correctly, a regular news feed is one of the most effective internal communication tools in your arsenal.

2. Innovation

Keep employees feeling challenged and noticed with exciting innovation tasks

The lack of daily interaction and competition can lead to a drop in motivation amongst remote workers. By setting a challenge to come up with new ideas and suggestions, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. It will help you breed an innovation culture within your organisation, whilst also allowing you to overcome the issues facing your business.

With the best internal communication tools and strategies in place, you encourage a knowledge-based culture. Talking about innovation and the associated challenges regularly invites employees to learn and ask more questions, while delivering invaluable advice that could transform your business. Encouraging innovation is one of the key internal communication best practices.

In fact, 75% of staff believe they would stay with an organisation longer if they felt they were listened to. Leveraging innovation to promote engagement becomes a win for both the organisation and its staff.

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3. Recognition

Roll out a recognition programme to make sure success doesn’t go unnoticed

Another important aspect of the internal communication process is the ability to recognise the contributions of your employees and make them feel valued. Indeed, 58% of employees believe the best way for leaders to improve engagement is to recognise their contributions and achievements.

But how do you do this effectively when your employees are all working from their home office? With everyone in one place, it’s relatively simple to publicly praise and celebrate success. It’s harder to do this remotely. That’s where your company internal communication tools come into play.

Recognition encompasses many forms, from a simple 'thanks' or a hearty 'job well done', to a public celebration of a successful project or a rewards programme. An internal communications app will help you to publicise recognition company-wide. Recognition modules make use of social tools to encourage peer-to-peer recognition and celebrate success across teams and divisions.

4. Push notifications

Communicate instantly with every employee, wherever they’re based

When it comes to communicating in a crisis, time is of the essence. Every minute that passes could be critical. This is especially true when you have an urgent message that needs to be acted on immediately. This is when you need effective internal communication tools that deliver without delay.

Push notifications are alerts that can be sent to people’s devices without them having to open the app. Ensuring your staff have access to updates when they need them (while encouraging them to engage further with the organisation) push notifications can be a real boon.

That being said, they should be used sparingly. Distributing notifications too frequently can cause disengagement amongst your employees. This is one of the examples of internal communication that needs to be used with discretion for it to be most effective.

5. Conversations

Allow colleagues to meet and chat remotely to make up for the lack of real-life interaction

Whether social, knowledge-sharing, or team-building in nature, conversations remain essential to a successful internal communication strategy.

With the shift to remote working, conversations are now few and far between, so it's vital to ensure your employees have access to a tool that facilitates conversations between everyone in your organisation. Encouraging group dialogue is an excellent way to strengthen inter-department teams, and include remote or distance workers in day-to-day activities and announcements.

Conversations can take place on the phone, over video chat, through conferencing, or over email. However, internal communications software can provide a social space where colleagues can meet, chat and share. It offers the option to hold private conversations or group chats, along with social tools such as posts, likes and comments. The perfect way to keep everyone in the loop.

6. Surveys and polls

Monitor the ongoing health of your workforce with regular check-ups

For organisations that employ a large number of remote workers, it can be hard to gather feedback or determine morale and satisfaction levels within your workforce. You can’t catch up by the water cooler, or assess the mood in a team meeting. Regular surveys should be part of your internal communication toolkit.

While your employees may stretch to the farthest corners of the globe, it's a good idea to bring your team together with scheduled internal communication surveys. This enables you to gather the kind of meaningful, actionable data that allows you to further improve internal communication throughout your organisation.

Alongside company-wide surveys, you should also consider conducting regular polls and pulse surveys. These are short, simple questionnaires that provide you with a quick health check. An internal communications app will make quick work of setting up polls and surveys, and also offers dashboards and reports to help you evaluate your results.

Find out how an employee engagement app can play a pivotal role in delivering an employee engagement strategy

7. Video

Make sure your leaders are seen and heard, despite their absence from the office

Video continues to establish itself as one of the key internal corporate communication tools for remote employees. It’s vital to keep leaders visible in times of upheaval and when communicating change. Video is a simple way to ensure they are seen and heard.

As a medium, it has various uses that benefit employees in a number of ways. From more serious organisational announcements, promotional campaigns, and company-wide training, to updates on informal engagement activities, the applications of video as an internal communication tool are manifold. It should have a place in every internal communications plan.

Video brings your brand and the personality of your company to life. And it's a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to keep employees engaged — even when your workers are dispersed over a wide geographical area or working remotely.

8. Events

An events calendar will keep remote workers feeling connected and involved

Just because the company away-day is on hold for now, it doesn’t mean that you should cancel all events. Socialising is a crucial element of working life and a packed events calendar is one of the most effective internal communication ideas. You now need to move these events online.

A company-wide events calendar is one of the most popular internal office communication tools. Having a company calendar that's available anytime, anywhere, helps staff plan around business commitments, clear their diary for social functions, and make sure they're up to date with key company events — even if they're not based in head office.

An events calendar also stops you from having to send out constant email reminders about forthcoming events. Instead, everything is available to see through a single calendar view. Internal communication software will allow you to create multiple calendars, track attendees and deliver new event notifications.

9. Information Hubs

Gather all your information into a central hub with remote access

Homeworkers commonly struggle with limited access to information. By working remotely, they often find themselves disconnected from key servers and filing systems. This is when you need effective internal communication tools to reconnect your employees to this central source of information.

You can instantly improve internal communication by creating communication hubs. This approach is especially beneficial when staff are searching for specific answers to specific questions. To maximise readership and engagement, information should be clear, well-presented, and rich in information. An employee app will give you the option to create private and public hubs, along with sub hubs and the ability to limit content types.

In addition, letting staff take ownership of the communication hubs related to their departments helps to keep teams connected, thereby improving the efficiency of internal processes.

10. Feedback

Ensure remote employees have a voice by providing user-friendly feedback channels

A survey by Officevibe showed that over a third of employees have to wait more than three months to get feedback from their managers. This delayed response is only heightened by a remote working situation. No employee should have to wait that long for an answer to a simple question. If they do, they quickly become disengaged.

The right internal communication tools can encourage feedback. A simple feedback option such as ‘ask a question’ provides an ideal solution that widens the knowledge base of your employees, while encouraging feedback, thoughts, and opinions.

When employees are already disconnected from the office space, it’s vital to ensure they still feel their voice is being heard. It also lets staff know your organisation is there to support them with any difficulties or confusion they face at work. Typically, an easy way to conduct this is through an internal communications app where the inbox is monitored and answers are received within a set time frame.

Bringing it all together…

To enjoy the full array of benefits offered by these internal communication tools, an all-encompassing solution is crucial.

An internal communication app is a fantastic way to bring these tools and communication channels together in a consolidated, easy-to-use application. The best apps can be loaded onto any device, allowing all your workers to engage with their colleagues and management, regardless of their location, work hours, or commitments. This provides your organisation with 100% reach for minimum effort.

Remote working doesn’t have to result in disconnected and demotivated employees. With the right internal communication tools and tactics, you can maintain an engaged and united workforce.

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