Communication is key in any business. Most of us are used to getting instant answers, whether shouting over cubicles or walking into a co-worker’s office. While working from home, we have to get more creative to get the same information. While it’s different, it’s not bad, especially given today’s technology. We don’t have to resort to impersonal emails; programs like Zoom, Google Meets, and Skype give immediate access to the people most important to your business.
While we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, we must remain positive and productive.
With the right support and creative tools, we can all find ways to be happy, successful, and make the most of our ‘new normal.’
So how do you improve communication so you feel connected with the people you need the most?
Check out these innovative ways.
Set Parameters While Working From Home
We were all thrown into remote employment suddenly. Many companies didn’t have time to come up with a plan. If you still feel like you’re chasing your own tail, you aren’t alone.
While we are working from home we must set parameters. Creating a new company handbook or at least a policy page ensures everyone is on the same wavelength. Think about your company’s culture, the schedules you want employees to stick to, how you want to handle communication, and what safety precautions you recommend. For example, do you want your employees to have webcam covers or to use specific anti-virus software?
Don’t forget about deadlines and expectations. Make sure everything is clear cut so there are no misunderstandings or miscommunication. It’s easy to miss an important piece of information when working from home and dealing with distractions, but putting everything in writing makes it more concrete.
Promote Verbal Communication
We all know and love email communication, but sometimes conversations get skewed. It’s easy to read into emails negatively even if the sender never meant it that way. With a lack of facial expressions and social cues, information may get misconstrued.
How do you avoid it?
Schedule video calls. We know many employees have families at home, which means background noise and interruptions, but with careful planning, you can help your employees make the most of their time working at home.
Schedule specific times for calls, whether it’s morning check-ins, lunchtime meetings, or end-of-day calls. You know your business and what it needs the most. Creating a schedule, whether daily calls, weekly calls, or some other frequency allows employees to create their schedules which include situating their family around the time they meet with you.
- Employees may focus easier by blocking out some of the background noise
- Headphones signal to household members that the employee is on a call
- Employees can wear headphones and listen to music, to help improve their mood and focus
Set up Instant Messaging
Not all communication needs visual cues or face-to-face communication. Instant messaging is great for quick questions or just the chance to reach out and say ‘hi’. Employees miss that connection with their co-workers. For many people, co-workers are an extension of their family. Not being able to lean over their desk and chat about something quickly is hard for many.
Instant messaging fixes that problem. Employees don’t have to take the time out to answer a video call and quiet everyone in the house, but can still have that connection. Quick sentences, emojis, and text language are all acceptable in instant messaging, giving employees some relief from the ‘prim and proper’ video calls where they must be professional and everyone must be quiet.
Give employees a little time for relaxation and fun and you’ll likely see productivity soar.
Use Daily Activity Reports
If you need to carefully follow what employees do daily, consider using daily activity reports. You can easily implement them online in the cloud. This ensures direct communication between you and your employees, keeping you informed of everything going on each day as if you were in the office.
Use Collaboration Tools
Making sure everyone is on the same page can be tough. Verbal communication helps, but sometimes we need to see things in writing. Making use of the many online product management tools help. Trello and Asana are two popular options, but there are many other programs out there too. Just make sure you choose a product that operates in the cloud for real-time updates and synchronization.
Ask for Input
Everyone loves feeling valued. Let your employees feel the love by asking them their thoughts on new products or services. Are you feeling stuck? Maybe you are at a stalemate with the new way of business and need someone to help you think outside the box. Reach out to your employees.
Using video chats, let your employees provide their opinions and ideas. You never know when someone may have the next best idea that takes your business to a new level. Not only does this promote your bottom line, but it makes your employees feel valued and appreciated, which is a key factor in today’s environment.
Create Digital Events
Did your office often have work-related events, giving employees time to unwind and connect? In our new digital way of working/living, many people feel disconnected easily. Using the same platforms you use to conduct work, you can host digital events.
Get creative and have fun! Host a trivia night, have a virtual cocktail hour or have an awards ceremony to reward employees that have gone above and beyond during this time. While working from home The key here is to have fun and connect with your employees on a level similar to what you had when you worked in person.
As tough as it may feel to leave your employees on their own, trust them. This is a trying time in everyone’s life, but most people value their jobs especially in this uncertain time. While checking in, communicating, and setting parameters is important, so is trusting your employees to do their job.
Micromanaging slows down productivity and makes employees feel undervalued. Set your parameters and your designated check-in times, but then leave it up to your employees. If you’ve trained them well, they’ll adapt to the new culture just fine, keeping your business afloat.
Get creative during this time! Use it as a way to grow your business in ways you otherwise would not have thought about. Your employees will thrive on your creativity and when you communicate with them in concrete and consistent ways, they’ll feel better about their jobs too, which increases productivity and gives everyone a sense of normalcy in today’s ever-changing environment.