The past eight months have taught many of us a lot about the way we communicate at work and as we look ahead to what’s set to be a tough winter, the question is, how will the new hybrid workplace reshape communications?
Is hybrid working here to stay?
Last week, Boris once again told us to ‘work from home where possible’ and many businesses have reverted to primarily communicating with their teams through technology instead of in-person meetings.
But as fantastic as technology is – as time goes on, more and more businesses are struggling to acclimatise to the shift in workplace dynamics. Many organisations are finding it tricky to keep their communications in check as they grapple with an increasingly disconnected workforce.
One thing’s for sure, the Government’s latest restrictions are here to stay for some time yet, so we’ve compiled some top tips to help you sharpen up your communications so that you can successfully navigate your way through these uncertain times.
So how do businesses bridge the gaps in their communications?
Bridging the gaps in communications across a remote workforce will inevitably take time. However, as we look towards the future of the workplace, it’s clear that businesses should act now to disentangle their communications if they want to successfully navigate the transition to hybrid or remote-first cultures.
Here are some tips to help mitigate the transition to hybrid working:
Keep your communications in check
Anything said in remote or hybrid video meetings has the potential to be misheard, miscommunicated, or just plain lost in translation — and if employees are unable to attend, they have to rely on second-hand information, which is particularly unhelpful.
Mismanaged comms results in unnecessary frustration and stifles productivity. Effectively transitioning to a hybrid working model means that businesses should look for innovative ways to document the knowledge-sharing process that takes place in in-person meetings, whilst making it accessible across a range of platforms.
Our top tip: Take minutes in digital meetings and document everything in a written format (albeit old-school) to make sure that everyone in your business has a clear understanding of strategic and mutual goals, whilst preventing excessive catch-up meetings, and crucially, ensuring clarity.
Be intentional about your communications. Have team members rotate to take meeting notes and store them into accessible shared areas like GoogleDrive/Slack and emails so that everyone can benefit.
Create communications guidelines for your business when shifting to a hybrid structure
Ever read an email or message and thought that the sender had the hump? It’s happened to most of us. As amazing as technology is, it’s not always easy to pinpoint intention or tone in written communications. In a hybrid workplace, clarity and empathy in written communication are vitally important, because written documents are a crucial source of knowledge-sharing and information.
Our top tip: Clear, empathetic written communications are a key component of a business’s success in a hybrid or remote-first working model. Businesses should turn their attention to providing a best-practice communications guide that shows employees how they can communicate effectively, empathetically and respectfully, both in one-to-one messages and in group conversations.
Build a bulletproof communications framework for your new hybrid workplace
There’s a time and a place for everything. In a hybrid or remote-first context, businesses should make use of multiple communication methods and platforms to make sure their employees are able to achieve their goals.
This spans both social and professional situations — for example, a staff training session might be best delivered over a video call, where as a sensitive conversation should be conducted over a private teams call.
Our top tip: In addition to creating a best-practice communications guide for your team to encourage clear, respectful communication, businesses should look to use this opportunity to build a framework around communication tools and technology, and how these can best be used. Providing multiple formats for communication, such as video calls, messaging apps and collaboration tools is key to allow for self-expression, as well as to make sure that employees are on the same page when it comes to communicating with one another.
There’s lots of research that tells us that nurturing a sense of belonging is important for driving employee engagement & productivity. Yet hybrid and remote-first cultures can pose many challenges when it comes to promoting inclusive employee experiences.
Problems with connectivity, feeling isolated at home and difficulty reading facial expressions via a zoom call are just a few of many reasons that put hybrid and remote workers at a disadvantage when it comes to feeling included & valued.
Our top tip: Businesses should look to implement methods of communication that promote inclusivity and employee equity at team and company-wide levels. Consider the experience of remote employees, and enable them to make work, work for them, in the same way, you do for those in the workplace.
Cultivating more equitable and inclusive communications will involve removing barriers as possible — and understanding how different individuals prefer to communicate. For example, employees can dial into team meetings separately on their own devices to avoid background noise or bad audio, as well as creating a more level playing field for social interactions.
The world of work is changing – let us help
The world is changing at an unprecedented pace and as a business owner, it can be difficult to know what the best course of action is right now. If you need help and support with your internal communications, talk to us. Our team have decades of communications experience and have helped some of the biggest brands on the planet navigate stormy seas. Let’s have a (virtual) coffee and see how we can help you survive and thrive into 2021 and beyond.
For more helpful hints and tips check out the rest of our blog