Blue Beyond Consulting

How To Create a Remote Communication Framework in 2024

Although the immediate reverberations of the pandemic are in the rear-view mirror, few changes feel as substantial or permanent as the leap to remote work. COVID-19 demanded a swift shift in the way employees worked across industries where remote work was feasible. HR teams laid groundwork policies; IT supported new tools, technology, and infrastructures; and managers reimagined how to best reach their teams.

Today, COVID lockdowns have fully subsided, and structured hybrid policies are gaining popularity, which may make it feel like the pendulum is swinging full force toward full-time, in-person environments. But the reality is that remote work — in both full-time and hybrid capacities — is more than a short-term disruptor. Research reveals that 10% of the workforce is full-time remote, while 9.8% of workers split their time between on- and off-site work.

If your organization is one of many that switched to remote work during the pandemic and still retains these policies today, then there’s a good chance you already have a strong remote communication foundation — including the technology you use, the purpose each channel serves, and other day-to-day practicalities. However, the remote communications playbook that guided you through the pandemic — while essential in a pinch — is not the same playbook that will carry your organization forward. The employee expectations gap is widening, and businesses that don’t connect with their remote and hybrid audiences will find themselves lagging behind the competition.

Let’s explore how you can adopt a more strategic mindset for virtual internal communications and collaboration.


Empowering Employees through Effective Communication in a Hybrid Work Setting!





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What Does Remote Communication Look Like in 2024?

Remote and hybrid work are no longer the “new” norm — they’re business as usual. As such, it’s shaping what employees value most at work and the expectations they set for their employers. In our survey of over 750 business leaders, HR leaders, and knowledge workers, Blue Beyond found that 79% of all employees surveyed said that flexibility in where and when they work was a top experience factor.

Data from Google Trends also challenges the perception that remote work is a fading relic of the pandemic. Search interest for “remote work” may have spiked abruptly in 2020, but has only continued to rise in the years following:

Moreover, we’ve learned that remote communication is not just for virtual teams. Even companies that are working fully in-office or hybrid can tap into virtual communication tools and best practices to work more effectively with team members in other time zones or across town. That same communication infrastructure may also be leveraged externally, meaning that new prospects, contractors, or current customers are only a Zoom call away.

As remote and hybrid work communications expand, so too do talent pools. Not only do virtual career opportunities allow hiring teams to source talent beyond the local area, but offering remote, hybrid, and other flexible work options are sure to encourage top talent in your industry to apply.


The Challenges of Communicating Remotely

The advantages of remote and hybrid work are evident, but so too are the roadblocks inherently tied to work that is not done in the same room. Across the board, the challenges we see our clients facing tend to have a common denominator: communication.

“Too Much” or “Not Enough”

Remote communications — and business communication at large — must delicately balance the frequency with which employees receive messages across all channels. Communications that are “too much” make it hard to wade through the noise, identify what information really matters, and uncover where organizational priorities lie. Conversely, remote employees may feel disconnected from the business, unclear about how their work contributes to the bigger picture, and isolated from the culture when they receive communications that are “not enough.”

The right mix of communications should not only consider the amount you are communicating but also how you relay this information. Lengthy emails, hours-long debrief sessions, and dense documentation may provide context and nuance, but there’s a good chance that a fraction of what is conveyed will actually be remembered and acted upon. Instead, think of how you can distill information to its essential narrative beats that will leave your audience inspired and armed with a clear go-forward plan.

Our visual communications are a great example of how different mediums can communicate information faster, more effectively, and in such a way that emotionally connects your people to the work at hand.

The Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Tightrope

Both synchronous and asynchronous communication have their place in remote work settings, but as leaders, it’s important to determine how much of each is appropriate, and when one is more suitable than the other.

Synchronous phone, video conferencing, or direct message conversations are effective when simulating in-person interactions or collaborating on time-sensitive issues, but you should also recognize their limitations. Although widespread “Zoom fatigue” has subsided since the onset of the pandemic, approximately 25% of remote workers are worn down by video calls.

Asynchronous communication, alternatively, gives people much more flexibility when receiving and responding to messages, but by its nature can cause delays and miscommunication, especially when juggling multiple threads throughout the day.

One-Size Strategy Does Not Fit All

No one organization fits into the same mold, so why should your communications strategy?

Honing into the channels, frequency, and communication styles that work best for your remote culture requires input from direct and indirect sources. Culture assessments, morale surveys, and other initiatives that your people and HR teams are likely already conducting can uncover correlations between the efficacy of your communications and overall employee satisfaction. Common communication metrics, such as email open rates, message reactions, and meeting attendance, can also offer clues on the effectiveness of your approach.

Remember that formal data gathering should always be examined with the human in mind. If you’re not sure how your people are responding to communications, ask. Managers can and should revisit the efficacy of their communications with their direct reports and escalate issues up to leadership when patterns begin to emerge. Having these critical conversations at the one-to-one level not only helps individuals feel seen, heard, and valued, but it ensures your remote communications strategy is built to accommodate a diverse range of perspectives and preferences.

Bridging the Hybrid Communications Breakdown

Hybrid is quickly becoming a predominant work model in remote-capable industries, with some experts predicting that it will overtake both full-time remote and in-office work in the near future. In fact, Gallup anticipates that as many as 59% of all remote-capable employees will expect and prefer hybrid work by September 2024. However, with hybrid policies come the communication breakdowns that can occur when coworkers are split between on- and off-site work, which can contribute to remote employees feeling left out, isolated, or disconnected from their in-office counterparts.

That’s why some organizations with structured hybrid policies choose the specific days teams should work remotely and from the office. This ensures everyone is present for crucial in-person conversations and can use their off-site work days for more casual or one-on-one meetings and individual focus time.


4 Maneuvers To Operationalize a Successful Remote Communication Framework

If remote and hybrid work are “just the way we do business,” the question for leaders then becomes, “How do remote and hybrid work models change how we think about organizational communications in general?” It all comes down to creating deeper connections and trust in colleagues, managers, and the organization at large. Here are four places to get started:


Empowering Employees through Effective Communication in a Hybrid Work Setting!





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1. Lead with Empathy

Empathy is a critical skill for all leaders, especially when managing and communicating with teams from afar. Compared to face-to-face interactions, virtual conversations can strip away context, such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions, which can lead to information that your team misconstrues — especially in written communication and when giving feedback. Before you press send, consider how the person on the other side of the screen will interpret your words and the intent behind them. A simple rule of thumb is to reflect the tone and voice of the person with whom you are communicating.

Empathic remote leadership is more than what you say and how you say it; it’s also giving deep thought to the hurdles your people face that are unique to remote and distributed teams. Being mindful of different time zones is a great example, as great remote leaders will recognize that everyone may show up to work with different working hours and time constraints.

2. Fine-Tune Technology for Community Building

As remote programs have matured over the past several years, organizations and their employees have become increasingly well-acquainted with communications tools and how to use them. The problem is no longer how to use these tools, but instead how to better leverage them to build a cohort of empowered and engaged remote contributors.

Communication technology — everything from web conferencing and messaging platforms to social intranets and collaboration applications — has come a long way in building out functionalities that are conducive to community-building from afar. Virtual events, for instance, are as old as remote work itself, but immersive views, live closed captions, and chat features all contribute to a more engaging experience that surpasses emulations of the in-office experience.

Breakout rooms, in particular, are a great opportunity to turn large meetings — where people may feel intimidated to speak — into forums that encourage deep connections with each other and the material.

3. Practice Good “Digital Body Language”

As remote technology has gotten better at replicating the in-person office experience, employees have more opportunities to practice what some call “digital body language.” Think of this term as a way to capture all the nonverbal cues we can use in virtual settings that help us better express our thoughts and connect.

A good example of digital body language is encouraging the use of cameras during video calls to track the speaker’s body language, gestures, and facial expressions. Small gestures, like adding a profile picture to messaging platforms and providing a status update on your availability each day, can also go a long way in helping employees build community and better understand one another.

Digital body language is at its best when teams standardize and use these virtual cues consistently. Setting expectations on camera use, message response times, status updates, background filters, and other common cues can ensure everyone is on the same page.

4. Reach the “Human” on the Other Side of the Screen

If you and your team work remotely, you’re already well aware of how easy it is to strip away the human aspect of how we communicate with virtual colleagues. The risks involved are self-evident — when we forget to treat people as humans, we lose their trust, a sense of camaraderie, and the psychological safety necessary to bring our best selves to work. But forgetting the human element can also mean your audience won’t understand your message and how it connects to a larger vision.

To ensure our clients’ communications are used to their fullest potential, we recommend crafting narratives that satisfy these three critical elements:

  • Human: Communications that are human lean into our natural, human tendencies to spot patterns, connect the dots, seek connection, and build community through emotion and empathy.
  • Compelling: Communications that are compelling inspire, inform, build knowledge, and offer a clear and enticing call to action.
  • Visual: Communications that are visual recognize that images have the power to build connection and alignment faster than written words alone.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Remote Communication?

Remote communication comprises the strategies, channels, and technologies that remote organizations utilize to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate when their people are not physically present.

What Are the Types of Communication Used in Remote Work?

Most communications experts distill communication into two broad categories: synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication describes any conversations that occur in real-time between two or more parties, while asynchronous communication describes the opposite — any exchange of information where the information sent is digested after it is sent.

How Do You Gauge Remote Communication Success?

Simple metrics like clicks, open rates, and views can indicate whether a communications team is actually reaching its audiences, while surveys, individual feedback, and satisfaction scores can inform how warmly recipients are responding to information sent.

Build Better Communications for the Business and the People

Are your internal communications in need of a refresh? Blue Beyond has helped countless organizations — in-person, remote, and everything in between — develop communication strategies that help organizations reach their internal audiences and people feel more connected to their teams, the organization, and its vision for the future. Learn more about our communications consulting services.