Productivity is up, employees are happier, and wages are rising – yet, there’s one big problem at the heart of remote working. Communications and employee engagement have been harder to get a handle on than ever before; yet, the answer is deceptively simple. A recent survey conducted by Forbes reveals that 80% of remote workers simply want more simple communications, as opposed to the big-ticket corporate events that many businesses rely on to build engagement. The need to establish true remote working brought with it innovation; a myriad of communications platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Teams saw huge growth. However, it is arguable that the best comms strategy is a simple one, especially when adapting to the audiovisual standard.
Giving agency to staff
Adapting to phone calls has been easy enough, if not completely smooth – it’s harder to prevent talking-over when using the internet, and that personal edge is taken away. One way to bring back the personal touch is through video calls; however, as the New York Times presents, many workers – especially the younger generations – feel disarmed by video calling and prefer not to use it. Video calling is, arguably, the best way to set up better connections in work and to encourage greater discussion. Body language is, after all, a big part of communication. One way to encourage more workers to feel confident on camera is to do away with the business rules of old. It’s unlikely that many employees will be sitting at home working with a suit and tie on, but if required to, employers might consider removing the rule. Putting staff at ease, giving them the opportunity to present their natural style on camera, and in general being inclusive is half of the challenge.
Making it video-first
Giving staff the confidence and independence needed to encourage them to use video tech is a good first step. Taking it to the next level requires an entire shift in workplace culture. It’s all too easy to use small calls with Skype and Zoom; the software encourages it, in fact, making it easy to quickly call someone for 5-minute chats. These are important calls, certainly, but relegating communication to these small events can have the impact of diminishing their overall importance. Instead, looking to have these regular quality conversations via the video medium can impart a greater sense of professionalism but, also, camaraderie.
Securing the remote workplace
Remote working may not be a temporary solution to today’s problems. Instead, it’s likely to be the way business is done for the foreseeable future – or, permanently. USA Today reports that over 50% of remote workers prefer staying at home, to the point that many would accept a pay cut in exchange for staying out of the office. Developing audiovisual communications are crucial, then, for long term success.
A long-term strategy for building that success starts with making employees feel included and making employees feel safe in turning on and deploying their camera. Building on that is turning the use of video tech in communications into the default way of doing business. Rather than having video be the exception, leaders should ensure it forms the absolute core of their business comms operations.
Building business comms with a view of being video-first will also help to future proof the business. Rather than relying on outdated communication methods or muddling through new change processes, it equips a workforce to be fully up to date and ready to communicate effectively in any situation. For businesses, continuity planning is everything, and this is another string in that bow.