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Remote working communication cheat sheet?

Many of us these days are experiencing short commute times from home to office. Given the current pandemic situation, we travel to our workplace via online group chat with our work colleagues. Activities involving planning, scheduling, meetings, work allocation and everything else happens on some sort of digital platform , is communicated via chat. Companies are relying on asynchronous communication to carry on their work duties.

Talk !

Engage in small talk, it could be about pets, fashion, current political issues,travel etc. the point here is to have a casual ‘pep-talk’ and it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to work because employees don't communicate strictly about work related topics when they are at office hence the purpose of this is to recreate the environment in your workplace. Most often individuals tend to keep it formal on chat or over a video call thus missing out on real conversations they would have had in person. The concept of psychological safety is crucial to ensure that employees bring their true self to the table which makes brainstorming sessions more real due to reduced fear of judgement and increases diversity of thought. Thus it is important that managers initiate authentic conversations on chat to give an insight as to who they are as individuals and help foster this psychological safety.

Give context

Something chats often lack is context, situational embedding and cues. It is important to provide context in depth and communicate an idea that has been on your mind for some time. Sharing your end goal and questioning your teammates if it is the best way to go about it will give them more surface area to help reach a solution.

Stray away from silence!

Silence is most probably the worst to experience on chat because it feels as if the rest of your team does not really care about what you want to communicate and this could start a negative spiral. Therefore to avoid this, it is vital that you respond to your co-workers statement or rather question with your best knowledge. Share your thoughts, this helps to maintain a positive work culture digitally.

Video chat!

Making the video chat work can be a bit of a challenge because certain individuals tend to be extremely self conscious and how they appear on camera. Furthermore analysing the non verbal behavior or the body language of the other participants/ party is not so easy compared to a real-time communication in person.

Thus embracing the latency is a part of the process because there is a high chance that there is going to be a slight delay due to technical slow downs, be proactive and and try harder in not cutting the other person off and interrupting them. Make visible gestures as well, for example, if you strongly agree with some idea, show a thumbs up! If a colleague is sharing an interesting idea , hold the smile for a little while and perhaps give a slight nod. This will allow the person(s) on the other end to really capture your emotions and smoothen the flow of the conversation.

Moreover managers or the person initiating the phone call must have everyone on grid view to analyse how each and every individual is interacting, their facial expressions and so on. Grid view also assists in democratising the meeting and places everyone’s input or feedback on equal footing.

Furthermore it is focal to use equipment with no fault. For instance, utilising a good headphone with a mic is important so that you are more audible when conversing with your team or client and does not end up annoying them every time your voice breaks up. Also prioritise the other person/party and make sure that there is minimal background noise.

The essence of remote communication is ensuring that an equal chance is provided for every individual in putting out their opinion, ideas, and just getting across their point of view and also receiving vital team-forward messages and other important notifications so that they do not miss out on anything because it is crucial to develop a healthy remote team now more than ever.