Business guide to Coronavirus

How to keep communication alive in the virtual world

Office culture has always been a big part of work life ­– until recently, that is. Now, a big portion of the Australian workforce is working remotely and is likely to continue to do so in the future.

So how can you make sure to keep the communication up with your team in this new, virtual world? Here are three tips.

1. Connect regularly

Start by noting the ways your team usually stays in touch, whether it’s regular meetings, brief team huddles or afternoon coffee breaks. Then think about how you can take those interactions online.

Instant messaging, audio and video calls can fill much of this gap, so make sure you get the right tools and software in place quickly, and ensure employees have access to any required user guides and helpdesks. Aim to touch base with each team member every day. This can help them feel more supported and won’t allow issues to get out of control.

You may also want to consider scheduling a daily stand-up meeting by video, where you discuss what everyone’s working on for the day and where they may need additional support.

This is an opportunity to lay down some basic ground rules around remote meeting etiquette, such as asking them to look presentable for client meetings and ensuring they dial in from somewhere quiet and free of distractions. 

2. Establish new guidelines and expectations

Without face-to-face supervision, many managers are going to have to rethink their approach when it comes to making sure their employees stay productive and focused. However, it’s also important not to micromanage and to allow your team autonomy over their tasks and to discover what works best for them.

To support this, you could set up a group message board, where everyone can share their personal insights into remote working, including sharing any tips and tricks they’ve found useful.

Not being clear on results and expectations is one of the biggest hazards to employee productivity and morale. Make sure your team members know what’s expected of them. Here, things like clearly defined KPIs and core competencies can be helpful.

Additionally, switching to cloud-based project and task management software can save you a lot of time and make tracking, delegating and staying in the loop much easier than long email chains or spreadsheets.

3. Stay social

The social aspect of office life plays a big role in employee satisfaction, so think about ways you can enable employees to continue to engage socially while they’re working remotely. Group video chats through applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype Business can be great for organising these more informal events and chats.

Friday night drinks, group workout sessions, baking competitions – all these and more can give your employees a much-needed escape from working in a more solitary environment, while helping to maintain a sense of community.

When working remotely, keeping the lines of communication open is more important than ever to help your employees feel engaged, accountable and part of the team. Now’s the time to dial up your internal comms and let your employees know they’re not alone.

Working from home kit (Free)

Preparing your employees for remote working? Access free policies and checklists to help you and your employees manage a new way of working. To download, simply join My Business as a free member.