Many employees around the country, and around the world are working from home in a bid to do their part to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. The outbreak has led to sudden changes for many employees, who aren’t typically used to working from home and don’t have access to the best advice, tools and resources to enable efficient and productive working. Good communication when working from home is key, and keeping in touch with your colleagues makes work more enjoyable and prevents the feeling of total isolation.
4 ways to communicate when working from home;
- go beyond email
- use chat and video applications
- share more content
- virtual social events.
Go beyond email.
In times of enforced isolation it’s hugely important to leverage the wide range of online tools available to keep in touch with your colleagues. When teams who are used to working together in an office space are separated, the use of digital tools that can replicate the in-person office experience are beneficial.
For many, working from home can feel lonely and has the ability to impact mental health. Feel free to ask your manager or teammates if they don’t mind having a 10-minute call to kick off the day and or wrap up the day. Coronavirus or not, the key to working from home is clear communication – and knowing exactly what’s expected of you. This type of chat/meeting can be productive for both individuals - it’s often easier to talk things through, get some advice and reassurance if you’re feeling overwhelmed about your to-do-list.
Furthermore, better communication while remote working can help maintain your working relationships with colleagues, clients, suppliers and all stakeholders in general. It’s important that you’re able to share your opinions or concerns about a particular project for example, as you would in the office.
Chat and video applications.
Working from home for long periods of time will of course create a sense of isolation, unless you keep in touch with others frequently. It’s important not to shy away from video applications and hide behind instant messenger.
There are plenty of tools available. Your company may well have it’s preferred version, e.g. google hangouts, microsoft teams or zoom for conference calls. Many still use skype, however as technology advances, more applications become available, offering different capabilities. The use of these tools depend on how well your colleagues communicate, or how much they’re willing to amp up communication using other techniques besides face-to-face conversations.
Another advantage of using these applications is the ability to present to teams, as you would in the office. Screen sharing capabilities mean that others will stay engaged and keep track of the point you’re trying to get across.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, mass gatherings are no longer happening. That however doesn’t mean that any planned conferences need to be cancelled. Virtual conferences have some great benefits - lower admission price attracting more attendees, zero travel costs, and global reach, to name a few.
If management is leading the way and showing how it should be done, the rest of the business will follow.
Share more content.
If you are asking yourself, “I wonder if my team knows about this” - share it.
Does your company have an intranet or shared space which allows employees to interact with each other and share content? There are platforms out there, such as workplace, which present the perfect platform to keep everyone well-informed - improved engagement is good for everyone. There might be some employees that don’t feel comfortable sharing information via email to a select group of employees - the benefit of a company-wide intranet is that at a click of a button, helpful information can be shared to the whole business.
Sharing business wins is another great way to boost engagement. If you’ve achieved something outstanding, it’s worth letting others know. It’s not necessarily showing off, it’s a platform to showcase what you’ve been working on, why it’s important and how it benefits the business.
Working from home doesn’t have to be all work and no fun. If you’ve got something timely, funny or relevant to your team or a specific group, share it! People working from home or in isolation might appreciate seeing something light-hearted.
During work time, the odd distraction and off topic chat keeps teams upbeat, happy and enjoying their time together. Classic office debates about television shows, the latest news topic or viral phenomenon are a welcome distraction to break up the working day where time allows, however, working from home can lead to teams drifting apart and communicating less.
There are ways around this. Instead of waiting until colleague engagement dips and close-knit teams get used to working in silo, encourage get-togethers. This applies to both working and non-working hours. In times of self isolation, messenger/video tools can also be used socially, to catch up with family and friends, as well as colleagues.
Virtual lunches, coffee breaks, virtual water-cooler chat or team catch-ups are highly encouraged. You can use this time separately from your regular team meetings, and can simply chat over a coffee and talk about what’s happening in your life as you would in the office. Ideally avoid talking about potentially negative news subjects - keep it upbeat and social.
If you’re missing your daily lunchtime chats, consider setting up lunch dates over your preferred video platform with your colleagues. It’s a great way to break up the day and you keep in that daily facetime that everyone is used to.
Or if it’s a friday evening, why not do a ‘virtual cheers’. Propose a toast to the end of a productive working week. A group video chat with a glass of bubbly, beer, soft drink or even a cup of tea. Say cheers to your team and keep in touch.