Are you currently working from home but loathing the continuous stream of virtual communication? You’re probably not alone.
Most of us have felt the struggle of dealing with multiple forms of communication while working from home. Since the beginning of the remote experiment, employees have been inundated with Zoom meetings, phone calls and online chat notifications. While this was acceptable in the interim period, as businesses were getting to grips with managing employees in various environments, over-communication should not be happening now.
Employees are now officially Zoomed out. Virtual fatigue is a real thing, and if we were supposedly exhausted by it in April - we must be suffering serious burnout by now.
Working from home is only going to increase in the workforce, but for teams to benefit from valuable work time, managers need to establish an effective communication method - one which allows employees to make the most of their time. Employees benefit from having long periods of uninterrupted time to achieve certain tasks. However this cannot be attained if employees feel obliged to reply to instant messaging throughout the day, or if dairies are scheduled with non-stop video calls. The key to a successful remote workforce is to get to the point quicker.
So how can we cut through the noise and establish an efficient communication strategy? It’s easier than you might think.
Strong, Effective Communication
Getting to the point relies on strong, effective communication. Nothing is more important when it comes to leadership, collaboration and decision making - all of which are vital components for a successful team.
Yet strangely, a lot of businesses just haven't got the memo yet. It is impossible to have effective communication if you're sending your team into communication overdrive.
Think about what needs to be communicated and who needs to hear it. It’s sometimes easier to cover your back by gathering all colleagues together for an update; but have you ever considered how detrimental this is to employee engagement if certain employees are irrelevant to that discussion? To maximise employee engagement, you need to get to the point quicker, but only to those who need to hear the information; so eliminate any individuals who are not required for a meeting. That way, both parties' time has been saved.
Likewise, if communication isn’t needed, don’t do it. There are benefits for getting everyone together to have a catch up, of course - but if there is nothing to add, or no point to your communication, your employees will fail to understand why they’ve been put on a call. Instead, focus your attention on what needs to be achieved and let your employees do their job.
Experiment with your team’s communication and see which enhances productivity best. Once decided, stick to this method, unless employees begin to feel frustrated. This could be a video-call each morning to run through everyone’s objectives, however, your team might benefit from only doing this from the beginning of the week, particularly if someone’s weekly objective remains the same for every day of the week.
It’s all about using employee time wisely, and the more structured and relevant the communication, the higher the employee engagement will be.
Be Clear and Concise
You might think your morning speech is motivating your team, but your employees will find it harder to pick out the important points if you ramble on for the sake of it.
The quicker you get to the point, the clearer everyone is on the matter. This applies to video-calling and written communication. There is nothing more counter-productive than cc’ing people into a long threaded email in the hope they’ll understand what’s going on.
Be snappy when using written communication. Write bullet points, status quos, daily check-ins and lists. It’ll save you and the reader time, and if something doesn’t make sense, find the most efficient way of explaining something and do it clearly. This will be more productive than sending your employee lots of information over an email.
Reduce Synchronous Communication
The easiest way to get to the point quicker is to avoid using synchronous messaging unnecessarily.
Of course, sometimes questions need to be answered in a dispersed team and it can be more efficient to drop a Slack message to someone instead of phoning them up and prolonging the conversation.
But swapping instant chat messaging to asynchronous communication can maximise productivity for employees. Status updates and check-ins, which do not require instant replies, should be utilised to give individuals time to think about a response (particularly if it’s for creative purposes). Having this structured communication method promotes a channel of clear, practical discussion, as instant replies can often be empty and meaningless. Having time to consolidate thoughts will help everyone in the team get to the point faster, and gives everyone the freedom from a strict schedule.
Real-time communication, whether that be a 5 minute call or a surprise meeting, is most often disruptive. There's rarely any time for a meaningful discussion, so you find yourself going over the same things, discussing the non-essentials and leaving with more questions than you have answers. This communication method is also a closed system. A manager will have to repeat this information to those who were absent and we all know that repetition is noise - i.e a waste of time. Think about how your team will soak up the information best, and use that method to avoid distractions and repetitions.
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