Remote working. Hybrid working. A full-blown return to the office of old.
Whatever your flavour of working style in this emerging post-pandemic period, it’s brought into focus that old chestnut, communication.
As the dust settles on 2021, we’ve delved into the topic of hybrid working environments and the communications strategies and styles needed to help bring this new world of work together.
Asynchronous Vs Synchronous
Back in the olden days (pre-Spring 2020), we really only interacted physically with a handful of people during a working day. But fast forward, and in the last 18-months, despite the fact we’re working remotely, people seem to be in each other’s reach far more than the past.
Of course, it’s thanks to the fast deployment of collaborative software and our super-fast adoption of new technology.
Clients or colleagues could be contacting you via text, Slack, Teams or email – but the pressure to respond, and respond immediately, has moved a group of people to a world of real-time ‘synchronous’ communication where immediate responses are expected.
The expectation levels are high, disruption is high, and all in all it is unsustainable.
In order to support focussed activity, and therefore productivity and wellbeing, businesses – especially as they balance the shift between remote and office working – need to take a considered and conscious shift to something a little less pressing. Asynchronous communication. This doesn’t happen in real-time and it doesn’t warrant a response in the moment.
Striking the balance is key, and setting expectations among staff even more so.
Giving communication the attention it deserves
Internal comms can be a tricky beast to manage when everyone is under one roof, when everyone is under a different roof not only is the complexity ramped up, but it becomes all the more critical to control.
Away from the routine, order and dialogue of everyone working in the same environment, a business’ vision, mission and values can erode, successes pass without recognition, targets and deadlines can be missed with increasing frequency and important company developments go unshared.
It is essential that none of this is allowed to happen.
Frequent, real-time and company-wide communications will be vital in preventing silos emerging, but it’s also important not to create confusion by reaching people with information that is irrelevant to their roles. Channelling comms into select, key places must continue as appropriate.
As time goes on, remote workers will likely accumulate questions regarding all aspects of their role. It is therefore advisable that regular Q&A sessions are made available to clarify expectations around areas such as tools, messages, access, protocols, and policies.
Don’t worry about feeling like your bombarding staff with communications. Though they may be at home, they are still at work. If the feeling sets in that this is a holiday, that will soon be reflected in the quarterly numbers.
Transparency is the best policy
Developments which affect the business in significant ways, positive or negative, must be shared with your workforce.
There will be much reflection when this period of our history passes, and employees will think about the levels of respect they were shown by their employers. They will factor in the extent to which they felt informed with honest dialogue and those businesses deemed to have become reticent may well experience a spike in attrition rates in the aftermath.
Managing a company with hybrid working models is more like managing a company along conventional lines than you might imagine. It works through trust, quality communications and company-wide support with business goals.
If these were qualities your company enjoyed before the pandemic, don’t allow them to degrade simply because your workforce is operating across dual working zones.
Prioritise intelligent and comprehensive employee engagement throughout this time and there’s no reason for your business to suffer unduly.
We’re all slightly different to how were 18 months ago, but we’re still here.