The first three months of 2020 seem like a lifetime ago. Everyone has been transitioning to a new normal at both work and home. Those two aspects of life have overlapped more, as we have learned to do remote work (and remote communication). But we have advice on both of those needs.
Sarah Greenberg, manager of content marketing at BCC Research, said her team went fully remote in the mid-March. BCC Research is a market research firm based in Boston with an NC office in the Research Triangle Park.
Greenberg said she and another person on her team were in the RTP office an average of three days per week prior to COVID-19. “So the biggest change would be, you’re at home most that time, you definitely have that lack of change of scenery,” she said. “It’s been a little isolating. That was probably the biggest change — feeling a little stagnant or stuck. It was more of a mental transition.”
Communication changed drastically thanks to remote work, and the methods companies use have grown more important than ever.
1. Check In Regularly with Your Remote Work Team
It’s easy to become isolated when working separately from everyone else. Maintaining quality communication — regardless of the medium — is essential to including people, creating a solid team atmosphere and keeping everyone on the same page.
“Establishing consistency creates certainty, and in uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to have processes in place to keep everyone focused and on the same page,” Rebecca Cafiero, a business and branding strategist and host of the Becoming You podcast, said in a U.S. News & World Report story.
Greenberg and her coworkers in Boston and Oklahoma log on each Monday for a video meeting to check-in, have an hourlong meeting Thursdays to go over projects and do one-on-one video calls on Fridays.
2. Avoid Flooding Inboxes with Your Communication
Checking in with each other on a regular basis is good. But it can become a deluge of unnecessary messages through different platforms. An email asking about a task is OK. A direct message and a phone call asking about that email that is asking about the task is not OK.
“Abusing those access points can be a form of digital dominance, a relentless and uncomfortable form of harassment,” the Harvard Business Review said. “The medium you choose creates different demands on the time of the receiver. Using all of them for the same message is ineffective (as well as annoying). Choose your digital volume wisely.”
3. Ask for Communication Preferences and Set Guidelines
Different team members have different preferences. Some might prefer email, some might prefer text messages and some might prefer an online messaging service like Slack.
Setting up different parameters for each team member seems like a lot. Completing it, however, can prevent a lot of complications.
According to the Harvard Business Review: “While we often tend to regard human predictability as a defect, few qualities are more sought-after at work, especially in virtual collaborations. We are all unique, but our consistent behaviors help others predict what we do, and in turn help them to understand us — and we all benefit from being understood.”
Greenberg noticed that she’s now conscientious about which method she uses to contact her coworkers. Her team at BCC Research communicates through email, direct messaging and video calls or project management software.
“I will say I’ve had moments where I’ve had to ask myself, what is the best way to reach this person,” she said.
4. It might sound crazy, but…
… pick up the phone or sign on to that video chat.
Phone calls and video chats can be inefficient. Efficiency, however, isn’t what these are about.
Maintaining human connection during a time when people must stay physically distant is important. Keeping that connection will help team members feel together, despite being apart.
“We tend to not schedule a ton of meetings,” Greenberg said. “So we try not to have superfluous meetings, but when we do meet, seeing each other’s faces (on a video chat) has been fun.”
Want More Insight into Communication for Remote Work?
North Carolina News Daily has already published a similar piece to this one – that’s how important remote communications are for businesses. What could you learn for your business?