With social distancing restrictions making office working unfeasible for many companies, countless workers across the UK have been forced to work from home so that businesses can ensure the safety of their workers during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
According to the 2020 State of Humanity at Work study by workhuman.com
, however, only 1 in 3 employees had worked remotely prior to COVID-19.
This presents an issue. Most teams have, at least until this year, relied on in-person collaboration on projects to get their job done. Now that so many of us are out of the office, remaining engaged and working effectively together when you’re apart is a real challenge, but there are strategies to keep communicating effectively that will make these challenges easier to overcome.
Here are some tips on how to maintain effective communication skills from remote locations so that the the transition to home-working causes as little disruption as possible:
Have a natter
E-mail isn’t the best tool to communicate with team members anymore. There are much more innovative digital platforms that can ease the transition into a remote work setting and create an environment that allows you to work together much more harmoniously.
is the perfect example of a collaboration hub where workers can file share, instant message, host digital meetings and screen share. A dynamic tool like this makes working on projects together easier and helps you feel more connected and productive.
You may not be the decision-maker in your place of work, but project management tools like Trello
will make projects far easier to delegate and track.
Everyone prefers to receive communications differently; your manager may prefer to communicate via email, while your project manager likes collaborating over instant messaging and another thrives on the phone.
Establish how people want to receive information from you, then try to communicate in the way that meets their needs. It doesn’t require much effort on your part and your team will be more inclined to work well with you when able to communicate with you the way they prefer.
To be even more productive, a virtual communication policy can outline how, what, where, why, and when teams communicate. This may seem restrictive, but a clear process becomes can make it easier to understand how to communicate with each other.
Basecamp’s team works wholly remotely, and they have decided that their hierarchy of communication dictates the following structure:
- Type it out for tasks and to-dos
- Talk it out for clarification
- Meet it out for 1-2-1s, feelings and complex matters
It means that important issues can be dealt with sensitively, but time-sensitive tasks can be more quickly accomplished. This won’t work for every team and you may struggle to get everyone on board, but many teams swear by this policy now!
Facial expressions and body language play an essential role in your communication, so if that element of conversation is removed, your typed words carry more weight. Balance a level of warmth in your messaging as you remain clear and candid. Your tone of voice is hard to read, and it needn’t alienate colleagues without cause.
If you struggle with warming up your digital dialogue, grammarly.com
is known for being an online grammar-checker, but it recently released a tone checker that will review your digital messages and suggest edits to be more positive and encouraging.
It’s easy to take your normal communication levels for granted, but to remain productive and foster team cohesion, when you work from home, you must be proactive in keeping lines of communication open so no one feels isolated or left in the dark. Perhaps suggest a ten-minute pow-wow in the morning or have a monthly 'wins' newsletter.
Informal nattering should happen amongst colleagues; it’s essential to developing a strong company culture, so if camaraderie doesn’t feel like a priority, make it one. An occasional 'virtual lunch' or 'happy hour' can make employees feel more connected to each other, which will make you all work far better as a unit.
Don’t despair - working from home doesn’t suit everyone, but you can absolutely make it more bearable. Try a few of these suggestions and we hope things improve for you and your workmates!
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