Working from home can impact communication and leaves employees feeling disconnected and unsure about their role but there are a number of ways to overcome these difficulties, find researchers from BI Norwegian Business School.
Professor Sut I Wong and Professor Gillian Warner-Søderholm, from the Department of Communication and Culture, have outlined five simple tips for better communication when working remotely during this global pandemic:
- Establish a good routine on how to share information on digital platforms so people don’t get drowned in too much information.
- Set up regular interaction points every day, such as morning skype meetings to connect with other team members for knowledge sharing, feedback, or just to catch-up.
- Agree on what it means to be a good digital colleague – clarity combined with respect – who does what: clarify responsibilities each team member has while working from home.
- Celebrate group achievements and company news by sharing a message to everyone via social media or email.
- Encourage transparency and inclusion – it is easy to forget to include team members in the chats so encourage de-briefings and discussion, even digitally.
This advice follows their study which found remote workers communicated substantially less when they were working from home and were left feeling helpless about their work. Subsequently, they may feel unsure about their tasks or how to coordinate with other team members. A sense of ambiguity sets in leaving them feeling at a loss in regards to motivation and connectedness.
During a crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, people are also struggling with the fear of getting sick, the practicalities of a lock-down, and uncertainty surrounding the future.
Daily communication with remote colleagues is important for helping them feel connected and improves their confidence in their work. Good communication led to better understanding of individual tasks as well as improved coordination among members in the teams.
Establishing a good communication norm is essential to an effective remote working team. Professor Wong and Professor Warner-Søderholm recommend daily communication opportunities among team members via skype calls and messaging. Companies can even set up social half-hours with their colleagues via skype. Such communication measures prevent individuals from feeling isolated and maximises team productivity.
These tips and advice should allow colleagues to feel connected when working from home and enable them to maintain a level of productivity without the ‘real-life’ social environment of a work office.