Watch Part 2 in our video series about the changing organizational landscape leaders face today. Together with Katherine Sharp from Enliven and host Ahmed Rammay from Marketing by Rammay, we discuss the Future of Work Post Covid and how businesses are affected. We also share some insights and solutions to help business leaders navigate effectively to maintain a sense of stability.
Below the video are three communication strategies for succeeding in the future of work.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders worldwide have had to reconsider the importance of internal communications in the future success of their business. Leaders have had to adapt to distributed and fragmented workplaces, isolated employees, the rapid deployment of communication-based technologies, new working practices and increased responsibility in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their people.
Effective communication in the workplace is quickly becoming the glue that binds workers into productive teams. Leaders must equip themselves to manage remote teams scattered outside the office and worldwide. Ongoing communication and support can help ease the anxiety employees may be experiencing. This internal communication is critical for organizational performance, successful change management, employee engagement and wellbeing.
Here are three of our recommendations for leaders interested in communicating successfully amidst this transition to the future of work.
1. Use social tools to collaborate in improved and innovative ways
In a study by McKinsey, 72% of the 4,200 companies surveyed reported using social tools such as Microsoft Teams, Workplace from Facebook, Slack and Yammer to facilitate informal employee communication. These tools promote employee collaboration and knowledge sharing across silos. They help employees make faster decisions, develop innovative ideas for products and services, and become more engaged in their work. Simply put, it makes work interactions more comfortable and more productive.
Executives report significant benefits—and profound cultural changes—from using a new generation of social tools that could replace email as the default channel for workplace communication. It provides their teams with mental breaks from work, opportunities to share insights and build connections, and make business-changing discoveries faster. Corporate communications departments find it useful in facilitating two-way conversations between leadership and the broader employee base through real-time messages, photos and videos from executives, polls and announcements.
Unless leaders explicitly highlight the potential use cases for social tools, people may underutilize them or even abandon them. That’s why these tools must be part of broader efforts to harness technology more effectively and improve the ways employees work.
2. Help remote workers avoid loneliness and burnout
As flexible and remote work policies become increasingly popular with employees, it can present new challenges for leaders. People using flex or remote policies often feel indebted to their employers, which leads them to lose work-life boundaries and regular routines—often leading to burnout. For this reason, leaders must check in frequently with remote employees. Help them set boundaries with a workspace at home or establish a new routine. Lead by example and encourage your virtual team to slow down by supporting mental-health breaks, vacation time and quality time with family.
Isolation is another common problem for remote workers, according to the 2018 State of Remote Work. But it’s not typical, and it is preventable. Frequent, ongoing conversations and, when safe again, an “in-the-office” day can help create opportunities for employees to overcome loneliness and isolation. Face-to-face time builds quality relationships, enables trust and speed in communications. It’s an investment that keeps relationships alive and helps remote workers flourish.
3. Provide several different communication technology options
Let’s face it, email alone is insufficient. Remote workers benefit from having “richer” technology such as video conferencing that gives them the visual cues they’d have if they were face-to-face. Video can be useful for sensitive conversations, as it can feel more personal. And it helps reduce the symptoms of loneliness and isolation. If your company doesn’t have this technology in place, consult your IT department to see that tools might work best.
However, before you use these tools, leaders must set guidelines for their use to make everyone feel looped in. Create “rules of engagement” around the rhythm, frequency, timing and means of communication for your team. Let your team know the best way and time to reach you during the workday. You probably don’t need to be connected all the time, so make sure you balance “bursts” of communication with periods of silence so employees don’t feel like they have to be “always on.” Judge the level of communication on your team dynamics.
Whether it’s social tools, frequent check-ins or video calls, communication is vital to a leader’s success in the future of work. These practices can help organizations build trust and a sense of purpose for the long term.