In an effort to stay in touch, virtual teams tend to spend a lot of time communicating digitally — on emails, in messaging apps like Slack, or texting. It’s a smart idea to be in regular contact, especially when you don’t have the stop-by-in-person option, but all of that traffic can take a toll on productivity and motivation. So when you’re leading a remote team, consider these two strategies to limit digital communication:

  • Routinize updates. Move your team toward brief status reports or bulletins — give them a template. Post it to a dedicated spot on a team site rather than sending it out by email.
  • Hold virtual office hours. Make yourself available to the whole team for a few hours each week when people can talk to you about whatever is on their mind. Keep the time consistent if you can, and let everyone know how to get in touch with you. Show people how to use this time by directing off-topic or random remarks to it: “Good question, Peter, but I’d like to save that for office hours this week. OK, back to the agenda.”

Adapted from Leading Virtual Teams (HBR 20-Minute Manager Series)