Remote work comes with undeniable perks for both companies and their employees. Employers get to enjoy cost savings while employees can get a better work-life balance and more flexibility. But that’s just one side of the coin.

The other side is that communication with your remote team can take a hit in numerous ways. Poor communication can cost you up to $12,506 per employee annually. It can affect team collaboration and productivity. Naturally, you’d want to avoid those.

That said, here are remote work challenges related to communication and how to address them. We’ll specifically cover remote work communication challenges and other challenges that affect remote employee interactions or are the result of communication issues due to a remote setup. Let’s get started!

remote work communication challenges
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1. Absence of Face-to-Face Social Interactions

You can easily walk up to a coworker’s desk in a traditional office, have spontaneous hallway chats, or simply share a casual conversation during lunch. These natural opportunities for in-person engagement are often missing in remote work settings.

So, what’s the catch? Without these personal connections, team members may feel disconnected, leading to a sense of isolation and reduced trust. That’s why it’s unsurprising that a remote work environment can increase feelings of loneliness in workers by 67%. This loneliness can, in turn, negatively impact productivity, potentially leading to workplace failure and employee churn. Fortunately, there are ways to solve this issue and boost employee retention.


Firstly, implement video conferencing as a standard communication tool. Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google Meet, or Whereby will be handy here. You can, for instance, schedule weekly video meetings for team updates. Seeing each other’s faces can help recreate the personal connection that in-person meetings provide.

In addition to the regular team meetings, create virtual water cooler spaces for informal social interactions. You can designate a Slack channel for “Water Cooler Chats” or set specific days for casual gatherings on a video call.

During the water cooler talks, team members bond over shared experiences, including weekend plans, funny anecdotes, or even their favorite TV shows. Employees love these fun activities. If you highlight them as part of your recruitment marketing, you’re bound to retain employees—and even get applicants lining up.

2. Tech Issues

Technical issues are among the top remote work challenges that can affect communication. 

Suppose a remote employee experiences connectivity problems during a remote meeting. The employee might end up missing critical work information given by a manager. The result is that they end up with the wrong output.

Or imagine if an employee can’t access a tool where they usually get instructions for their daily tasks. Then they won’t be able to perform as expected.

The great thing is that there are ways to address these technical issues. 

In case of technical failures during critical communication moments, for instance, you can provide alternative communication channels, such as phone numbers.

You can also give access to technical support for team members who encounter tech problems like software crashes. This could be in the form of an IT helpdesk or a dedicated team member with tech expertise.

Documentation can play a crucial role as well. Create a knowledge base. Your team members can use these resources to resolve tech problems on their own. Just make sure you use simple language in your resources. They’ll be of no use if employees don’t understand them in the first place.

3. Miscommunication Risks

Remote team members often rely on emails or virtual meetings for communication. When you can’t fully see your colleagues’ body language, it’s easier to misinterpret what they say. So, sometimes, seemingly clear messages are lost in translation. This miscommunication can result in incorrect task execution and even strained working relationships.

The solution to one of the major remote work communication challenges discussed above? Create an internal document that outlines your organization’s preferred communication protocols. This document should include clear guidelines for email etiquette and the use of various communication channels. Share this document with your employees to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Your effective communication guidelines should emphasize the importance of specific practices, such as using clear subject lines and maintaining a professional tone. 

You should also stress the need for clarity in communication. This means steering clear of jargon and sentences that can be interpreted in multiple ways. For instance, instead of using terms like “ASAP,” it’s best to communicate a specific deadline.

Furthermore, consider the impact of cultural and language differences and communication barriers when creating your communication guidelines. Some team members may have English as their second language, for instance. Slang that might seem harmless to native speakers might not be well received by them. So, you want to tell your team members to avoid such phrases altogether.

As a final tip, promote active listening during online meetings. Encourage team members to ask questions, seek clarification, and summarize key points to ensure everyone is on the same page. For example, in a virtual project update meeting with your marketing department, allocate time for questions and comments after each presentation to address potential points of confusion.

4. Collaboration Challenges

Huddling or spontaneous team collaboration is much easier when your coworker is only a few desks from you. But in a remote setting where communication can be hard, you need more effort to foster collaboration. This was confirmed by a study from MIT, which revealed that companies embracing remote work, as a result, face challenges in effective collaboration.

So, how can you address this communication-related challenge?

Start by promoting a culture of teamwork within your remote team. You can do this by recognizing and appreciating employees who facilitate collaboration. These are employees who actively support their colleagues by sharing innovative ideas to address challenges. Doing so will inspire others to collaborate just as proactively. To simplify the process of rewards, you can use employee recognition platforms.

Also, you’ll want to select the right collaboration tools. Google Docs is great for sharing documents with members of remote teams tasked with writing and editing. With the tool, multiple users can make suggestions to written content in real time. Trello and Asana, meanwhile, allow you to assign tasks to specific members and their corresponding deadlines.

Before implementing these solutions, make sure you train team members so they can get the most out of these tools. We’ll talk more about how you can train them remotely in the next section.

5. Training Issues

In any organization, employee training is a must. Just look at the stats. When employees receive formal training, companies are 17% more productive. Then there’s the fact that a majority of employees, or 68%, prefer to learn and train at work.

But how can you do that in a remote work setup where communication can be an issue?

The good news is, again, there’s technology that can help you. 

With learning platforms such as Thinkific, for instance, you can easily create an online course, whether it’s for your formal employee onboarding or for employee skill development. You can just share your courses with specific members of your remote team. Give them a deadline for when they should have completed them.

Another option is to hold the training yourself via video conferencing software. With this approach, however, your employees no longer control when the learning takes place. You’ll have to set a time when you and all concerned employees are available. That becomes challenging when you’re in different time zones. 

However, the good thing about this approach is that everything takes place in real time. So, if you’re teaching them how to use Google Analytics, for instance, they can tinker with the tool while you teach and ask questions that come to mind as they explore. If they ask you how to find site traffic sources using the tool, you can also immediately show them, with your screen, the step-by-step process.

Whichever training strategy you opt for, create quizzes and assessments to ensure remote employees retain what they learn. Don’t forget to track their performance. 

You’ll have to do this manually if you’re using video conferencing software for your training. If you don’t have time to create written tests, just verbally ask each employee what they learned after each training session. Or give them a hypothetical problem they should solve.

If you use a learning platform for your training, on the other hand, leverage its features to track the performance of each learner. Such a tool usually automatically generates relevant reports you can analyze. It can sometimes even generate certificates of course completion for each employee. You can send these to them via email after the training. Just make sure you verify email addresses before you hit that Send button. You want to make sure the certificates reach the intended recipients.

In Closing

Remote work is a reality we must embrace. But to execute the remote work model successfully, you must prepare for remote work challenges related to communication. These include remote work communication challenges and other challenges that can affect employee interactions or that arise as a result of communication issues in a remote setup. 

Follow these tips to address the absence of face-to-face interactions, miscommunication, technical issues, collaboration, and training hurdles.

Despite being far apart, your remote employees will be able to communicate with each other effortlessly and yield the results you’re looking for.