A guide to remote work communication

virtual meetings, remote
Bucharest, Romania – March 31, 2020: Shallow depth of field image (selective focus) with the Zoom video conference app/site – work from home during the covid-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has changed traditional workplace practices as we know it. On a global scale, workplaces are forced to implement work from home policies and adjust the way they operate. This new workplace normal has highlighted to businesses and business leaders the importance of communication, team ship and the need to effectively reach out to remote employees.

In this new world of remote working and hybrid workplaces, here are some effective communication tactics business leaders should focus on to successfully connect with remote employees

1. Transparency and consistency

Communicating transparently and consistently will help set boundaries, expectations and requirements for employees to adhere to. Being clear and regularly providing clarity on what you expect of the employees will ensure those working from home are on the right track.

This could be done through emails highlighting the goals for the day or team group chats in the mornings to ensure everyone is set up, clear and understand the priorities of the business.

2. Early and regular communication

Business leaders should actively engage in with employees early in the week, with regular touchpoints throughout the workweek.  

Create an environment where feedback and discussion are encouraged. Daily check-ins with employees through digital conferencing solution, whether it is one-on-one or group sessions once or twice a day may help fuel employee connection and valued.

3. Face-to-tace time

Having video turned on during virtual catch-up meetings will be beneficial for both employees and leaders. The exchange of information and responsibility are heavily depended on body language and facial expressions. When being in the same room isn’t possible, any other means of Face-to-face time is better than none, it prevents misinterpretation and miscommunication in the workplace.

Leaders should make the face-to-face experience fun and interactive to engage with employees. During these catch-up sessions, reiterate and acknowledge any concerns that employees may have such as not being in business attire to put them at ease. Be open to the idea to explore new ways to make face-to-face meeting more engaging such as walk and talk or perhaps incorporating ice-breaker activities at the start.

4. Encourage connection

The uncertainty that the pandemic brings about may impart a sense of disconnection between employees and business leaders. To tackle this issue, business leaders should look at different avenues to facilitate activities that encourage workplace connection to occur.

Where possible, try to offer and ask your employees to share a slice of their life to lift each other’s spirits. It shouldn’t always be about talking shop, take note to connect on a personal level.

Extending from communication, a best practice workplace culture business leader should consider is to offer flexibility. This can be done by recalibrating the normal work routine for employees so that they can be more comfortable in their environment and role.

For example, consider a top-down culture of promoting flexibility in hours or routine, create designated meeting-free zone built into the day-to-day to ensure room to disconnect for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.

Once this is in place, check whether there is a change in performance and if workplace accountabilities are fair and relevant, make adjustment near necessary. Each business will have a different narrative and take on culture and communication however, as business leaders, you should be open to explore new ideas to see which one works for you and your employees.

Dr. Frank Chow, Director and Psychiatrist, 2OPHealth