Blog

11 September 2020

How to communicate between satellite offices

Satellite offices are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon. Whilst there are plenty of benefits to regionally distributed setups and the hub and spoke office model, organising effective communication between offices can be challenging without the right approach.

This BizSpace guide offers some top tips on how to communicate effectively between satellite offices. Beginning with a section on organising your people and processes, we’ll move on to explore remote communication and how you can encourage cross-office collaboration.

Boardroom setup at BizSpace with chairs, table, bottled water, pens and paper

People, processes and satellite offices

With the right approach, the experience of working in a satellite office can be as (if not more) productive and fulfilling than life in a conventional office. Without effective communication between offices, however, you could struggle to keep employees motivated and in the loop, and people may start to feel disconnected from what’s going on elsewhere in the business. To prevent this from happening, people and processes should be at the top of your priority list.

Particularly for satellite office employees, your induction process should introduce new starters to all of the communications tools that are used within the business, from instant messaging applications to project management and video call software. Before they start, they need to feel comfortable with the software they’ll use to stay in touch with the rest of the company, as well as understand the procedures about where to store and how to share the different kinds of work they’ll produce.

Your new starter processes are really important not just for making remote workers feel connected, but also in terms of employee retention rates. A recent HR study found that 86% of people make their decision within the six months of employment about whether or not to stay with a company long-term; of the respondents who had left their job within six months, 23% stated that “receiving clear guidelines to what my responsibilities were” would have helped them stay.

New workers need to know what their responsibilities are, but they should also feel like a part of the wider team – in a conventional office setting, staff can be brought together through team building and social activities, yet these are equally important for helping remote workers settle into the business. A number of BizSpace customers have recently introduced initiatives to bridge the divide between their various satellite offices, such as monthly Zoom quizzes or a dedicated video chat space that’s left open to staff from the entire company.

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Remote communication

With your employees spread out across a range of different satellite offices, it’s important to perfect the art of remote communication from the get-go. This can refer to any form of electronic communication, including telephone and video conferences, all online conversations and really any means by which people can talk to each other without having to be in the same location.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are now used to tools like Zoom or Google Meet, but getting remote communication right is about more than just investing in the right tech. Start by building a culture in which routine video calls and conferences between remote teams are the norm – you don’t necessarily need a hard-and-fast rule for this, as your employees will soon recognise the benefits of these meetings for themselves.

It’s also a great idea to have at least one remote communication coordinator in each of your satellite offices. In exchange for a small pay rise, their responsibility should be to check in with all of the teams and departments at their location on a regular basis, making sure that they’re not struggling to get through to other offices and that no employees feel like they are cut off from the rest of the business.

 

Encouraging cross-office collaboration

Once you’ve built a culture in which workers from different satellite offices feel connected, it’s time to start thinking about encouraging cross-office collaboration. Remote presentations between distributed teams help to get everyone on the same page with work and ensure that each employee understands what’s going on elsewhere in the business. As well as promoting collaboration, this kind of activity also encourages a healthy level of competition between offices.

There are plenty of other ways to bring your employees together through collaborative work. You could try establishing fun competitions that span the entire company, with teams made of representatives from each of your satellite offices. For example, a lot of our customers have run innovation challenges where teams compete to design a new product or service offering that could benefit the company (and the winning proposal is then rolled out).

Whatever plans you put in place, try to avoid a situation in which each of your satellite offices acts as a separate silo: it’s important not to put an entire department in one location in the first place, and instead to ensure that there’s a good cross-departmental mix within every office. Over time, a setup like this will create a need for employees to communicate and collaborate between offices, instilling them with improved remote communication skills by more organic means.


This guide has explored how to communicate effectively between satellite offices, bring remote teams together, and encourage cross-office collaboration. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of these ideas further or to learn more about how we could help your business.

Author

Jen Latimer