At the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies around the world were thrown into the deep end of an unplanned work-from-home experiment that took place on a global scale.
Now, more than two years later, and with the severity of the pandemic cooling down, many employers are embracing the much-needed benefits flexible work culture has brought to their companies and their employees.
Today, it’s no secret that working from home, or even on a hybrid basis works pretty well. Companies have reported seeing increased productivity, employee engagement, and even higher profits due to lower office expenses.
At this year’s Invest for Kids Conference, Alaina Anderson, CFA, the Global Equity Portfolio Manager from William Blair & Company, outlined one of the organization’s top international stock picks to capitalize on a global structural growth theme. The speaker noted the energy transition is driving the need for new technology around the world, particularly in Read More
And these claims can be backed by research.
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In a study by Stanford University of more than 16,000 workers, it was found that productivity increased by 13% over 9% months due to employees having a more convenient working environment.
Another survey by Aritasker from March 2020, when the pandemic only started taking off, showed that remote employees spent less time avoiding work, and more time committed to their assigned projects. The increased productivity and working hours led to some employees spending at least 1.4 more days working each month.
There are tall tales that can help support the claim that remote work does actually benefit the company and its staff.
While it’s been a challenging time for many to adjust to the virtual working environment, key skills such as good communication remain a critical factor in any role, whether it’s performed in-house or when teams are distributed.
Tips For Effective Communication
The success of any business, startup or even entrepreneurial venture lies within its ability to effectively communicate with other members of the team, management, or even customers.
Effective communication is key, that’s why employers and their teams will often need to brush up on their communication skills, both written and verbal to mitigate any issues and voice their concerns in a respectable, yet professional way.
Choose A Means Of Messaging
For employers and managers, and more likely the employees, it’s important to take a look at the means of messaging or communication your team uses. While there are multiple communication platforms to use, not all of them will be equally effective.
Some employees may enjoy using e-mail to communicate due to the nature of the message, other times a direct message on an office messaging platform such as Slack or Microsoft Team could be more suitable. Maybe your company sees more video or voice calls every day than having to communicate through written messages.
Each method can be effective in its respective way, and it’s up to you as an employer or staffer to consider which will work best to share information or receive feedback from someone else.
Learn Team Preference
Some remote team members will often communicate only through a chosen method for day-to-day activities. Depending on what each person would like to share, getting to know people’s preferences doesn't only make it easier to get their attention immediately, but it also helps to set healthy virtual office boundaries.
In a study by Owl Labs from 2021, 70% of remote employees surveyed said that virtual meetings and video conferences were less stressful. From the survey, 64% now prefer hybrid meetings over in-person.
Be Clear And Concise
Nothing is more annoying than having to read through a lengthy email only to find the most important information in the last two lines.
For employers and managers, get into the rhythm of crafting short, clear, and concise messages. Get to the point as fast as possible, but do so in a professional way.
The same can be said for employees. When responding to a colleague or requesting information about something, avoid making small talk in your emails and messages, and be clear about your intentions. Again, it’s important to do so in a professional way to ensure no grievances arise due to a lack of communication.
Use A Good And Practical Tone
Having a lack of face-to-face or even in-person communication can quickly cause misinterpretations among employees. There is a high chance that when an email or message is sent, oftentimes someone will misread it, finding it to come across as unpleasant or perhaps rude.
When putting together an email, newsletter or simply reaching out to someone, consider how you would have read the email if you were on the receiving end. If you think it might be too abrupt, change some of the wording. It’s a good idea to think about how you say things, especially in the context of the remote office.
Not all employees or colleagues will be on the same tone as you, so it’s best to assume good intentions both when you send and receive work-related messages.
Be Mindful Of Different Time Zones
Seeing that companies can now hire from a wider pool of talented and skillful workers, many remote-only companies often find themselves having hired workers in different time zones. And while this may not be a critical issue due to the nature of digital tools, when it comes to communication things tend to become a little bit harder.
Remote teams should clearly communicate what their active working hours are compared to other members. More so, whenever an employee is “out of office” or on leave, there should be clear communication about how the remaining members will be able to work around this.
Being mindful also helps to set healthy workplace boundaries. It’s not the most pleasing experience having to wake up to a video call in the early morning hours just because your colleague is still at his 9-5. Respect the available working hours employees and teams can be contacted, and plan according to their time schedule.
Make Time For Casual Chats
The virtual office can become a desolate place, especially for teams that don’t communicate or video call every so often. As a way to keep employees engaged and encouraged, it’s good to take some time to engage in casual chats about everyday things.
Making time for employees to catch up with one another after a weekend, or right before the holidays through a video or voice call will help make the remote office feel less lonely and more personal.
Through this employees are also able to get to know their team members better, and employers will have the opportunity to engage more casually with his or her staffers as well.
When the chance arises, see how you can engage with other team members through casual conversations now and again, even if it’s through instant messaging.
Distribute A Newsletter
In the office, it’s quite easy for news or information to get around quite quickly, whether it’s good or bad. In the virtual workplace, this is a bit different, and it’s not always that you might find entire teams or businesses all being on the same page at the same time.
A great way to make sure employees are well-informed about any events, upcoming projects, or general information is to distribute an electronic newsletter. Of course, doing so every week would seem tedious, but it’s best to do so every month, or perhaps on a bi-weekly basis.
Newsletters don’t need to be boring - there’s so much opportunity here to create an insightful yet engaging circular that will keep employees interested in the business, management, and their colleagues.
To Finish Off
As a remote worker or a remote employer, it can be hard to effectively communicate with team members when they are scattered in different parts of the country or world. As we’ve learned with many other types of businesses, communication remains a critical part of any business that aims to become successful and meet its goals.
Having a communication method that works, and allows teams to be well-informed and on board with everything that is going on will help the business become more productive and improve performance.
Take time to practice good communication skills, both written and verbal, as this could help in the long run as you build a team of remote employees, or even search for a work-from-home job. Communication, in any shape and form, helps the business function properly but also creates a sense of inclusion in an era of virtual work.