5 Key Areas for Communicating Effectively with Remote Workers

As if the busy head of people didn’t have enough to do defining the new normal at work, the ‘how to’ of teams working apart also requires very careful consideration, especially when it comes to communicating remotely.

This blog provides practical advice on how best to do just that.

Employees craving more flexible working have been able to prove that working at home has, in many cases, improved productivity. According to one survey, 85% of businesses confirmed a productivity increase due to greater flexibility (IWG). Organisations have also realised the level of cost savings this brings. It's therefore likely that as lockdown eases this year, many employees will continue to work from home for a while longer or even indefinitely. 

Whilst some employees love home-working, it’s highly likely that others will be feeling isolated, uncertain and lacking in focus; leading to stress, anxiety and demotivation. According to ONS, depression has recently doubled. So, what can organisations do to maintain culture, keep engagement and productivity up whilst safeguarding the wellbeing of their people? It’s all about communication.

Five essential areas to consider:

1. The Big Picture:
Remind people of your purpose and values. Remember, for many these may have shifted over the past few months so you might need a reality check by consulting people on this and working out your new norm version. Then paint a clear picture of your vision for the future. People do need to know where you’re heading now and that there’s light ahead.

2. Consult:
This is a great time to sense-check the reality. The best way to do this is to have a one to one with everyone (which is easier if you have great technology in place to drive this for you). Once you’re clear about how individuals’ circumstances and aspirations may have changed, get people involved in planning how you’re all going to work together to help rebuild the business. The enforced, though much needed, accelerated shift from micro-management isn’t going to reverse.

3. Access to information:
People have recently taken more personal responsibility for communication rather than relying on a ‘top-down’ approach. People want to be able to find out what they need, when they need it rather than being expected to read all the emails, let alone remember the contents, or absorb all the updates and briefings. By providing a central hub where people can find information, together with great tech tools such as Yapster, to help people communicate across the organisation. Teams will become more self-sufficient, with less need for management intervention. This is nothing new, though the pandemic has given it a welcome boost.

4. Connect:
Wider collaboration has become the norm as people aren’t limited to their own geographically close colleagues. Make sure people can find out about their colleagues, with easy access to specialists, buddies, mentors and so on. Provide opportunities for remote socialising, general and specialised, though this should always be optional. Avoid ‘enforced fun’ by encouraging people to set this up themselves. Some organisations are holding virtual fruit breaks, setting up virtual ‘water coolers’ via Slack, having virtual lunches and movie nights, arranging wellbeing sessions and remote competitions.

5. Revisit and support:
For those for whom home working is not a joy, provide opportunities to check in and, overall, keep communicating clearly with updates about what’s happening from the company perspective and how this will affect them (also posting to your central information hub). And remember that safeguarding employee wellbeing has never been more critical so instead of inundating them with solutions, enable them to self-assess and access tailored solutions via Wellbee so they can let you know when help is needed at an early enough stage.

If you would like to discuss this, or if there's anything else we can help with, contact us today.