Communication in the workplace

Many employees have passed the 400-day mark of working from home (WFH) since COVID-19 hit the world. This rapid change in work location and flexibility has allowed us all to weigh in on how much we WFH. As a result, many businesses have had to put in place WFH policies. And they’ve had to consider how, when and what they communicate to their employees.


We’ve never had so much visibility over our colleagues’ personal lives. Work-related Zoom calls often turn into discussions about:

  • the book that’s on display behind people

  • pets and children making an appearance on camera

  • casual clothes dominating the computer screens

COVID has revealed the human side to all employees. In turn, this has increased our levels of empathy and changed the way we communicate.


Let’s look at communication whilst WFH in more detail.


Tone

Despite WFH, formal meetings, conversations and emails are still necessary. But businesses may need to consider setting the tone of a call or conversation in advance. Ask yourself: is it necessary for this to be formal?


Remind employees of the appropriate tone of voice for certain conversations. This can help keep concentration levels in check. Employees need to complete their duties despite WFH.


Of course, some business-related conversations will always have a degree of formality. Interviewing potential employees is a good example of this. And this is regardless of whether job interviews are face-to-face or over Zoom. Interviewing should be normal work attire. There should be no interruptions during the interview.


Over-extension of work hours

A common complaint about WFH is becoming burnt out due to an over-extension of work hours. At home, a text message or urgent email will entice someone to step away from their families and return to work. Why? It’s the easy thing to do when WFH.


Managers must be wary of starting too many conversations outside of work hours. Overtime rules, rates, penalties and related stressors still apply regardless of work location.


Clear guidelines should be set across teams indicating:

  • what normal work hours are

  • availability of employees

  • communicating deadlines

This will help ensure no one feels pressured to jump online to work late at night.


Mindset

The COVID pandemic means there’s been a lot more negativity in:

  • the news

  • media updates

  • government announcements

Economic fallout, health reports and lockdown rules have drained many employees. And this affects people’s ability to cope. So it’s more important than ever to ensure this doesn’t decrease work morale.


This means business owners and managers need to be more empathetic. Consider whether that long email or long Zoom conference is necessary. Sometimes unpleasant conversations are required. But, by delaying them until a face-to-face discussion, that unpleasant message can be personal and more transparent.


Intranet

Regardless of the size of your business, it may be prudent to introduce a portal that houses:


  • announcements

  • recognition of great work by employees

  • necessary updates

  • business policies and guidelines


If these are communicated by email, they’re too easily lost and may accidentally get deleted. This makes having a portal a better way to communicate with employees.


This way, it’s all in one place and not too easily lost. But set some ground rules on how it’s used and what it’s used for. It can be a place that’s interactive with a positive and informative tone.


Need help improving the communication in your business?

Get in touch with us by email at info@dreamstonehr.com.au or ring (02) 8320 9320. We’re able to help businesses nationwide.

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