Remote: 4 tips to encourage healthy communication at work
The year of lockdown makes us whizzes at online communications. Almost all the time we interact with laptops and smartphones, using all kinds of communication tools and apps for two good reasons — to talk to people and listen to them easier and faster.
But the fact is, what should have made our lives better, turned it into a disaster, at least, for a part of people. According to Coso Cloud, 23% of remote workers said that they worked longer hours than they’d done in a business location. The biggest challenge for 22% of remote employees is unplugging after work, reports Buffer. The boundaries between work and personal life have become blurred. The lack of good communication makes us work even more. Together with the COVID crisis and other 2020 issues, these factors have led to burnouts.
The only thing we can do for each other is create a safe space for work online by following the simple rules of modern manners in the digital world:
1. Do not send anything that is not urgent, through What’s App and other messengers after 7 p.m. or at weekend. Doing this, you make your addressee get back to work no matter whether they want it or not. They instantly start thinking about the project, trying to assume if something happened, and getting nervous if they’re not able to answer immediately.
Remember: if you’re still working, they don’t have to. Just email them or use the scheduler in the messenger — they will definitely see your message when got back to work.
At worst send muted messages and don’t hesitate to apologize — then at least your colleague will know you’re sorry for interrupting and won’t be distracted by the message sound.
2. When attending Zoom meetings, make an arrangement with your companion if both of you are going to use your cameras or not.
Of course, it’s better to turn your camera on to maintain an eye-to-eye connection with other attendees, especially when the meeting is small. When you’re listening to a webinar, and only one person or a few people are speaking, using your camera is crucial to make them know you’re engaged and they’re keeping your attention.
If you’re going to attend an important meeting, but have no chances to keep your camera on because of, for example, driving a car, having a member of your family next to you, or having a little mess in the room, explain the situation to your colleagues, they’ll certainly understand.
3. Strengthen all the arrangements. Working from home, we don’t have such close connections with colleagues as it was while being in offices. We don’t see each other day-by-day, aren’t able to make a call for a meeting by waving a hand when it’s about to start, aren’t able to remind your colleague that you’re waiting for something from them. In our homes, we have a lot more distractions, so bureaucratizing business processes in a good way is the answer.
Have you just scheduled a meeting with colleagues? Make an event on the calendar and add people to send them invites. Then don’t forget to send them the meeting plan before it has started. Do you have a task for someone? Inform them by using the task manager or another way accepted in your company. Have you just finished a meeting that you’ve been moderating? Make a meeting report including all the items discussed and decisions accepted.
4. Stay a human being and encourage personal communication. Interacting with people through laptops doesn’t mean interacting with laptops. Remember people are on the other side of your screen, they’re experiencing the same stress as you are. Why don’t you ask them how it’s going, what’s happening in their lives?
When working in the office, you can recognize someone’s mood without talking to them, and switch the way of conversation to make them more comfortable. When meeting someone in a Zoom call for the first time in a day, you don’t have an idea what they’ve been up to before joining this meeting. Digging into the agenda from the very beginning without understanding the context of your companion might be awkward.
We hired all these rules to make ourselves more comfortable while working online. Every interaction we provide online should be exactly the same as offline: do not embarrass someone and keep other people’s boundaries.