Fast-approaching corporate normalcy will not turn back the clock on remote workforces. The work-from-anywhere trend began more than a decade ago, and next-generation technologies such as the Cloud and 5G networks make the offsite shift a permanent and growing reality.
“The Covid-19 global outbreak transformed the way we work overnight, with a majority of knowledge workers operating remotely. We no longer have the luxury of in-person meetings and personal cues to communicate,” Johny Bogard of EB Solution reportedly said.
Despite the watershed changes to wide-reaching occupations, certain aspects of supervising a workforce have not changed. The critical element that maximizes success remains clear and concise communication throughout an organization. Industry leaders may need to sharpen their skills because online interactions are here to stay. These are three facets of remote communications that managed IT experts consider essential going forward.
Office settings lend themselves to steady casual communication. Team members pass each other in hallways, take coffee or lunch breaks together, and seem to be perpetually talking shop. Those impromptu conversations comprise a robust fabric that cannot be simulated online. Company leaders are now tasked with replicating this passive communication with a proactive method.
“Going back to my early days as a team leader, the most effective ways to manage your remote workforce was via weekly open topic meetings with the whole team. This is, basically, the starting point, where everyone gathers to discuss open issues in an open and constructive forum. It helps us all sync up on the various projects we have been working on and lets us solicit help where needed,” Demetrius Cassidy of In The Cloud Technologies reportedly said. “The idea behind this is the same as before the pandemic started. We, as a team, sit down and discuss work issues in a more business-casual setting.”
Thought leaders such as Cassidy and Bogard recognize the importance of daily huddles cannot be understated. Many of an organization’s best ideas and direction come from seemingly informal discussions. Remote workforces will need to ramp up the quality and quantity of goal-driven discussion.
When the economic disruption prompted organizations to transition to remote workforces, many did not have the necessary infrastructure in place. Creating virtual private networks, enhancing cybersecurity, and deciding on a business productivity platform seemed like Herculean efforts. But with remote infrastructure now firmly in place, business professionals may want to consider critical next steps. Ask yourself, are the current communication tools adequate? If you are unsure, it may be wise to explore all of your options.
“We have turned to Unified Communications to provide that much-needed connectivity and direct support. It runs in the background and connects from any platform. The presence cues give our team the ability to see the status of colleagues,” Bogard reportedly said. “As a senior leader, my aim is to discover and equip managers with the tools needed to support and oversee remote workers. Work processes can be focused on not just coordination and knowledge-sharing but team relationships.”
Cassidy agrees that leveraging all the interactive technology options can prove invaluable. Now that many decision-makers enjoy more than a year of experience working with online tools, expanded use can only improve productivity and communication.
“The next thing we can encourage is to utilize the collaboration tools at our disposal. Create channels for projects where multiple people are involved, so they can share progress, request assistance, or provide feedback,” Cassidy reportedly said. “Collaboration tools help supplement our social interactions and encourage team participation with our work tasks. Remember, though, these tools are not replacements for our face-to-face meetings.”
While it’s true that videoconferencing allows leaders to connect with entire workforces, more personal talks should not be discarded. Company-wide communication delivers critical, high-level messaging vital to keeping everyone moving with a singular goal in mind. Private conversations provide other benefits of equal value.
“I like to utilize weekly 1×1 video conferencing calls with each of my team members. This does not have to be just about work. Just having a place where they can openly share feedback in a more private manner is probably the single best single thing you can do for your remote workforce,” Cassidy reportedly said. “Remember, a lot of these used to be social interactions you would have with your team when you are all in the same office. We are leaders, and part of our job is to help guide and assist our peers in any way we can.”
The shift away from brick-and-mortar facilities to the Cloud does not minimize the importance of robust communication. In fact, work-from-home policies task company leaders with making informed decisions about how to leverage the technology in a way that improves knowledge sharing and personal interactions in a cohesive fashion. Our productivity tools may have changed dramatically. But what we say to each other remains fundamentally unchanged.
By Jo Smith
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