You’ll be used to managing your company’s methods, volumes and levels of communication when based in your commercial premises, but what about now that you and your staff are working from home?
If you’re finding it difficult to keep everyone in the loop, we’ve put together some top tips on how to oversee effective communication when working remotely.
Using platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom for video meetings has very much become the new normal for many businesses across the UK.
However, whilst you probably know how to set up and join a meeting, that doesn’t mean your company has got video conferences down to a fine art.
All kinds of problems and issues can arise when switching from physical meetings to virtual ones but getting it right isn’t rocket science.
When you and your teams follow the tips below you’ll be sure to maximise the efficiency and outcome of your video communications:
- Unless it’s casual Friday or Red Nose Day, all attendees should dress appropriately.
- Everyone in the meeting should also be in their home office or another suitable setting – joining the meeting whilst in bed or on the toilet seems like an obvious no-no but it has happened in numerous instances around the world.
- Make sure all attendees have their display name set correctly (sometimes people change them for social chats and forget to switch them back again).
- One hectic household will affect the entire meeting, so remind all staff beforehand to tell their families or housemates that Do Not Disturb is in operation until further notice.
- Occasionally a member of staff may genuinely forget that they have music playing in the background – ask them politely to switch it off.
- If your meeting participants plan to take notes, ask them to hit mute. It’s amazing how much noise one or more people typing can add to a video call, which really disrupts its flow.
- Any team members who find it hard to focus or hear the conversation should consider purchasing noise-cancelling headphones (or perhaps you could buy sets for your employees as a remote working gift?)
- Some of your quieter employees may not speak up much or even remain silent throughout the meeting. Make sure to encourage them to contribute by going around the virtual table and asking each participant in turn to offer a little input.
- Many video conferencing platforms also come with a chat function. This is a quick and easy way to share notes and links during the meeting without interrupting the speaker.
- Remember that there’s very little body language involved during a video meeting and your face may be quite small on the screen if there are a few people present. Make your reactions clear by verbalising them more often, such as saying “Yes, that’s an excellent idea” rather than simply nodding.
- End every video meeting with a smile. Your staff won’t see your face again for a while and a positive exit reinforces company morale.
Remote working also means more emails, so here are some ways to optimise the way your teams get messages across:
- Use a very clear email subject, as this enables the recipient to gauge its priority and also find it again with ease at a later date.
- When asking for something, always include a deadline. This removes any uncertainty and prevents delays.
- Don’t treat email like instant messenger. People may take hours to reply or even wait until the next day. If it’s an urgent matter, send them a direct message or give them a ring instead.
- Email is the perfect way to send an agenda prior to a meeting and the minutes afterwards, this way everyone remains on the same page.
- Once you’ve sent or replied to an email, remove your e-signature for further responses. This keeps the thread tidy and easy to navigate.
- Remember to turn on the Out Of Office function when taking a day off or on annual leave. Also make it clear in the OOO message whether or not you can be contacted by a different means whilst away.
Remote working communication tips
- Learn people’s communication preferences, especially when it comes to clients and customers.
- Focus on the three Cs of communication: clear, consistent, concise.
- Always read your email before hitting send to ensure the tone of voice is right.
- The ability to Reply All isn’t always suitable and can cause employees’ inboxes to become cluttered – use it sparingly.
- Invest time into having a chat with your staff. A little socialising can greatly lift the mood and strengthen working relationships, especially when working remotely.
- If a member of staff isn’t communicating clearly, effectively or often enough, raise the issue with them in a positive way and help them to get it right.
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