Understandably, a great deal of attention has been paid in recent months to the transition to remote working which so many have had to hurriedly make. A critical factor in securing the positive benefits of new remote working practices is finding the effective communication rhythm for your team.
Many have learned recently just how conducive the office environment was to checking in on an informal basis with colleagues and being able to spot early warning signs relating to workload challenges or personal issues. It has also been evident how important the interpersonal connections between colleagues are for making workplaces as productive and healthy as possible.
A reasonable question is therefore: “How do managers structure communication with their teams to support wellbeing and productivity whilst remote working?”
In answering this question, it is important first to note that every organisation and individual are different and there is no “one size fits all” approach.
Skillful managers will develop a blended approach which works for their teams and take advantage of technology in doing so. Below are some of the choices that managers should consider when determining which method best suits their aims:
- Individual or Group
- Telephone or Video Chat
- Structured or Unstructured
- Formal or Informal
To illustrate the above, there are circumstances where an informal but structured video-conference of a team or department may be a great way of lifting morale – think of the various examples of Zoom quizzes which have taken place as an alternative to regular team-building. Alternatively, there are occasions where an unstructured, informal telephone call to an individual to see how they are doing may be just the intervention needed if that individual is feeling under pressure.
Looking ahead, these approaches, and the experience gained for managers are likely to be applicable in a post-Covid-19 workplace. Many employers are already considering what a more blended workspace will entail: which elements of remote working should remain once Government restrictions are eased.
Whatever your own perspective on a blended workspace and a move away from the traditional office as a default, finding the right rhythm and format of communications with your team is a critical skill to maintain morale and momentum.
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This article first appeared in the February 2021 issue of Business Cornwall magazine.