How Covid-19 Has Changed The Way We Communicate at Work
As people consider the realities of a post-pandemic world, they are beginning to imagine what returning to work might look like. Up until this point, we’ve battled through noise interruptions and subpar home office set-ups, all while being tethered to endless video conferencing. We’ve been innovative, finding office space in corners we never even knew existed.
Even with some of us caring for kids full-time, we’ve accomplished more than we thought possible. One study revealed that working from home increased productivity and led to healthier lifestyles. According to Gallup, remote workers are even more effective than on-site workers.
The pandemic has had a negative impact on many aspects of daily life, as well as on entire industries, but it has also shown us that the workforce is resilient. The stigma of remote working is gone, thanks to the greatest work-from-home experiment in history. This “experiment” is proving to managers that working from home is a viable option.
Furthermore, there is now a call for greater efficiency and competitiveness and many industries are pivoting to keep up. For example, online streaming is ramping up competitive strategies to go head-to-head with Netflix. The National Institute of Health launched a competition for diagnostic testing, with NIH Director Francis Collins saying, “This is an effort to do at an unprecedented scale and speed what the world is waiting for.”
All of this forward momentum is because crisis breeds innovation. It will be the companies that are able to adapt and use technology well that will find themselves ahead of the competition. In the race towards innovation, how we communicate between teams is going to play an even more pivotal role.
This pandemic is placing companies in an “innovation accelerator.” Everything is being shaken up and we need to establish new standards for collaboration in our organizations based on what we’ve learned during this time, regardless of if we continue working remotely or not.
Here are 3 ideas of how to do this effectively:
Employee experience matters
Today, location is no longer an issue or an excuse for exclusion. Now, teams can collaborate from across the hallway or across the world. This means that it’s time to rethink the employee experience.
How are your remote employees communicating during this new world of work? What were the highlights and lowlights of their time at home? How can you make their experience more productive? How can you communicate better across teams?
Create a way for employees to easily and regularly provide concrete feedback. Then, make sure to incorporate that feedback strategically to optimize employee experience and simplify things when possible. The payoff will be happier employees and boosts in productivity.
Visual communication is more than Zoom
Video is an extremely effective tool for communicating, and can be used for trust-building between employees. While some employees see tools such as Zoom as infringing on their privacy while working remotely (we’ve all seen the pantsless newscasters), company management should be encouraged to use video in an effective way — especially to connect emotionally with teams — over other forms of communication.
It doesn’t always need to be live to be effective, but visual communication drives transformational efficiencies in all areas of business, making work more seamless for employees. So if it’s using video to train employees or send a message from the CEO, it’s been proven time and again that people generally tend to respond better to messages received via video over other forms of communication.
Invest in training
In order for employees to be able to leverage new technologies, they need to know how to use them. When companies plan their digital roadmap, it’s vital to consider whether their systems have a quick start-up time, as well as how much training these new systems require of their workforce.
Embrace a test-and-learn culture that communicates to teams that new technology uptake is an important effort. Driving home during training that new technology has the potential to make their lives easier, more productive, and to keep the company moving forward, may help with adoption.
Among other things, this pandemic will be remembered as the tipping point of a technological revolution that changed every aspect of routines and work-life balance. As airports and train stations sit empty, we’re witnessing the rise of remote learning, telemedicine is booming, and people are swapping out a morning commute for more hours of shut-eye.
While this has all happened quickly and unexpectedly, we can use these learnings to innovate for the long-term. As changes unfold in real-time, the steps outlined above will help ensure that your company stays agile and responsive.
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