How are we supposed to communicate the team’s goals effectively when we can only work from home and meet through video conferences and talk through messaging applications? Let’s face it while working virtually has its fair share of advantages, it is equally challenging to work jointly when your teammates are physically distant.
Maintaining an employee’s performance under extraordinary circumstances takes a special strategy. As business leaders, we should always reinvent ways on how to increase productivity and maintain high-performing employees in this challenging, changing world.
We’ve put together a few short lessons for those of you eyeing up how to increase employee productivity by strengthening communication protocols.
1. Observe regular office hours
As we are revisiting our old processes, looking for effective ways how to work remotely, and discovering routines at home, we should have to be concerned about taking steps to build a sustainable remote set-up.
We have to respect employee’s schedules beyond working hours. Company leaders should put clear guidelines in place for employees to follow. Recommendations such as expected response time, scheduling contactable hours, setting availability status, and creating procedures during urgent concerns should help set boundaries.
Ensure that important meetings and follow-ups are done during work hours not when someone is on break or is done with the day’s work. Observing regular office hours promotes punctuality, having a proper schedule helps employees set their mind to be mentally prepared for work hence increases productivity. It also avoids working longer hours which entails the risk of burnout.
2. Set clear expectations
Clear communications happen when expectations are set beforehand. Do not set a meeting just for the sake of having one, you’ll have the risk of wasting time with unproductive and aimless conversations. While it is important to have engaging virtual meetings where employees can bond and share noteworthy discoveries, it is beneficial if the employees have a basic idea if the conference is an engagement activity or a business meeting. If there’s an important subject matter make sure to disclose it in the meeting invite so that everyone is informed. Keep it short and focused. The goal is to have a purposeful conversation with precious limited time everyone has.
3. Select a channel and make most of its features
As we are doubtlessly aware, the pandemic has disrupted the working environments and reinvented communication tools. These tools have revolutionized the way employees communicate. Some prefer hosting video conferences while some are working comfortably with a basic messaging application. Whatever the team and the circumstances require you must use these tools advantageously.
Pick a tool that enables collaboration and scheduling. Do not expect your employees to keep their eyes on the group chats waiting for a ping or waiting for the next announcement. Choose a channel that enables you to send messages to a specific group who needs the message and allows tagging to who the message is directed. Avoid disrupting everyone in the team by practicing focused and intentional communication.
4. Sync team attendance
If someone will be on a leave, it is important to let the team know to calibrate or adjust meetings. Syncing the team’s attendance by having a team calendar visible to everyone can help you in keeping track of activities, managing schedules, and processing leave requests efficiently.
5. Observe etiquette
Acknowledging people’s messages, letting them know you’ve received an email, accepting meeting invites, staying on mute when someone is speaking, not interrupting a speaker, or simply notifying them that you heard what they have said during the meeting are some of the basic etiquettes most often forgot. While most of our communications are done virtually doesn’t mean we can’t practice courtesy and remote meeting etiquette.
6. Consider different time zones
Considerate communication requires you to think beyond your schedule. While most of our teammates are scattered around the globe – that’s not to say that our teams in distant offices with different time zones should be out of the loop.
Have a system for knowing the time zones of each member and involve them in scheduling a time they can commit to virtually meet. Make sure scheduled meetings are with consideration to every teammate’s availability. We don’t want them extending hours of having to log in during the wee hours of the night just to catch up on business updates.
Employees do their work better when they know the company values their time.
7. Allow personal time boundaries
Most importantly in this new normal, employees will be able to work remotely based on where they can best get their work done. Work and life balance is a key to productivity; there’s value in cultivating personal time for employees.
Research shows that allowing breaks or various activities in between work helps the job more stimulating and increases productivity. Cultivating these practices needs support from employers and the active participation of employees. Once achieved, it allows employers to follow the company’s schedule while having personal time. It creates a boundary between when to focus to accomplish work and when to take proper rest.
Katreena is a scientist and a life hack specialist. She’s authored scientific journals on biotechnology and molecular biology. To take a break from scientific journals, she puts her mind into writing about lifestyle, health, and sustainability. She strongly believes that kindness makes the world go round.