Working from home can impact communication and leave employees feeling disconnected and unsure about their role. Here are five communications tips to overcome these difficulties from researchers at the BI Norwegian Business School.
Professor Sut I Wong and Associate Professor Gillian Warner-Søderholm, from the Department of Communication and Culture, have outlined five simple communication tips for when working remotely during this global pandemic.
1. Establish a good routine on how to share information on digital platforms, so people don’t get drowned in too much information.
2. Set up regular interaction points every day, such as morning coffee Skype meetings or digital lunch breaks to connect with other team members for knowledge sharing, feedback, or just to catch-up socially.
3. Agree on what it means to be a good digital colleague – clarity combined with respect – who does what: clarify responsibilities each team member has while working from home.
4. Celebrate group achievements and company news by sharing a digital message or snap to the team
5. Encourage transparency and inclusion – it is easy to forget to include all members in the chats, so encourage debriefings and discussions in teams, even digitally.
Break the silence
This advice follows their study, which found remote workers communicate substantially less with colleagues and managers when working from home and were often left feeling helpless about their work. Often, they feel unsure about their tasks or how to coordinate with other team members. A sense of ambiguity sets in, leaving employees feeling unmotivated and disconnected.
During a crisis, such as a coronavirus pandemic, people are also struggling with the fear of getting sick, the practicalities of a lock-down, and uncertainty surrounding the future.
Digital water cooler
Teams need to set up a ‘digital water cooler’ – a social online interaction point for team members to hangout and compensate for lack of physical interaction. Daily communication with remote colleagues and managers is even more important in such stressful times. It helps people stay connected, feel part of their work community; and helps avoid feelings of loneliness, boosts confidence in work and maximises team productivity. Good communication leads to a better understanding of individual tasks, as well as improved coordination among members in the teams.
Establish a good communication norm to create an effective remote working team by communicating daily with each other and managers via Skype and messaging. Companies can even set up social half-hours with their colleagues via Skype.
These communication tips and advice should help colleagues feel connected and able to maintain a level of productivity without the ‘real-life’ social environment of a work office.