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Editorial blog

Craft Business Live! Key Speaker Sara Davies MBE on How to Communicate With Colleagues in a Virtual Age

11 Jan 2021

Regardless of the company you work for or the industry you are in, effective communication is key. The last few months have brought challenges that no business leader could foresee and, with so many people spending a large majority of their working time at home, lots of companies have had to rethink the way that they communicate with colleagues.

Ultimately, good communication practices can boost productivity and create a stronger work environment and culture. When employees feel that they are being kept up-to-date with important announcements, and have a general awareness of how the business is doing, it creates an air of transparency and employees feel more valued.

However, effective communication is easier said than done when half of your team is working remotely. While emails are great for getting sign-offs, sending briefs and more formal announcements, when it comes to quick questions, feedback and team meetings, they just don’t cut it.

STAY IN TOUCH REGULARLY

In recent months, online video conferencing and instant messaging services have become the norm and to a certain extent, they have been great alternatives for the face-to-face meetings that they’ve come to replace. However, as business owners and managers, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we don’t become out of touch and out of sync with our colleagues.

Coping with a completely new way of working can be overwhelming for anyone, but there are some things that can be implemented in order to encourage trust, a collaborative culture and a sense of teamwork.

First of all, try to establish some sort of routine and consistency. Something as simple as a weekly call to update staff on the priorities of the week allows people to feel more involved. Even if you don’t have something particularly groundbreaking to say, your colleagues will appreciate having some stability and a safe space where they can ask questions.

It’s also important to manage expectations in a clear way. No one wants to feel like they aren’t being trusted to do their job and vice versa, but managers need to have an awareness of what work is being completed so that crucial tasks don’t slip through the net. By making the team aware of how to outline their priorities and how often they need to do it, employees are able to understand their expectations.

ENCOURAGE AN OPEN DIALOGUE BETWEEN STAFF MEMBERS

One positive aspect of face- to-face meetings and office conversations is that they can often spark ideas. While people might not be able to cram into a meeting room anymore, spontaneous creative sessions don’t have to be a thing of the past. Encourage staff to plan discussions where people can share ideas for upcoming campaigns, product ideas or just general thoughts. This way, creativity isn’t being hampered and a sense of teamwork is reinforced.

Try to keep on top of people’s requests and answer their questions in a timely manner. In an office, it’s easy to walk up to someone and get an immediate response to something but when you are working from home it’s not that simple.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE APPROACHABLE

Similarly, it’s best to operate an open-door policy – figuratively speaking. Everyone wants to feel like they have the space to get on with their work but make sure that your team feels like they can message or pick up the phone to you with any questions or for advice.

Finally, remember that for some people, the only human interaction that they might have is seeing work colleagues in the office. For some, working from home can be lonely so remember to check in with people, even if it’s just to ask how they are.

Visit Crafter’s Companion’s website here.

View Sara’s video from Friday 15th January on Craft Business Live! Explore other elements of the show here.

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