Since the coronavirus pandemic gained notoriety and hit North America sometime around January, remote working has become our new reality. Led by companies in response to World Health Organization announcements to self-quarantine and practice social distancing, remote working has contributed to helping manage the mysterious virus. While both business and individual efforts have been making a positive impact on the decline of the virus, the everyday challenges of working remotely have led to several concerns about the difficulties of communication.
Below is a list of several tips to help companies and employees overcome common communication challenges while working remotely:
1. Commit to Company Transitions.
At the company level, the central point of working remote requires transparency and decisiveness from individuals in a leadership position. Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 situation, decisions should be made quickly and committed fully. Embracing working remotely and virtual collaboration is one of the most important things businesses can do to address the increasing complexity of the current public health and economic crises
To improve communication efforts, start with getting the infrastructure right and necessary technological tools set in place. Ask yourself, do employees have access to the resources they need? Before utilizing the Call-Em-All service, ensure that all of the necessary employees have access to your account. This can be done by either sharing your username and password or creating additional users as sub-accounts.
2. Communicate More Frequently.
As work-life boundaries at home begin to blur, open, and frequent communication is critical for setting realistic expectations on how teams will collaborate and work together. In a remote environment, the frequency of contact cannot go down. If you’re used to having meetings, continue to do so. Communication should probably go up for the whole team and its members. Newer employees, those working on critical projects, and people who will need more contact will require extra one-on-ones.
Remember that fun things can also be done virtually: happy hours, coffee breaks, lunch together, and even push-up challenges! Schedule your meeting online and then use our automated text and voice messaging system to send out virtual event reminders to employees, volunteers, and even customers.
3. Strengthen a Culture of Inclusion.
People lose unplanned watercooler or coffee conversations while working remotely. Even though it may sometimes just be chit chat, these are essential parts of the workday that have a direct impact on individual and team performance. So, how can we create these interactions virtually?
For some groups and individuals, its constant instant messaging. For others, it could be a simple automated text message or voice call checking in on employee wellness. Or it could be live video conferences or phone calls. When scheduling virtual company meetings, spend the first ten minutes or so checking in with how people are doing instead of going straight to the agenda items.
Also, just because people have access to a video-enabled web conferencing platform doesn't necessarily mean everyone's voices are being heard. Creating a collaborative, open, and inclusive virtual work environment requires everyone, especially members of the leadership team, to actively listen and engage with their colleagues.
The bottom line is what keeps a virtual workplace healthy is the trust, patience, and active support employees have for one another. Providing access to online tools and platforms is only half the equation. Trust, accountability, and inclusion need to be mixed in with company culture whether employees are working in the office or from home.
4. Be Authentic and Engage
Lastly, reducing the isolation of working remotely takes commitment on an individual level. While we worry about bad hair concerns or wearing sweatpants on camera, embracing video cameras during meetings or even personal calls will allow you to get that human connection that we all need. Along with accepting your visual persona, another key area to focus on is to remain authentic. Working remote demands us to address uncertainties and vulnerabilities openly.