Are you missing the days when you could just go up to your coworker’s desk and ask them to clarify an email? Or when you could have in-person catch-ups with your team members? Getting things done just seemed easier when you could get a quick answer from another person nearby.
But of course, with nationwide shut-downs and social distancing in place, this is no longer our reality. Our new normal of working from home comes with its own challenges, but at Alipes, we call ourselves a “digital solutions agency”, so we’re here to equip you with tips to have stronger communication across your business. And with practice, we’re sure you’ll achieve greater transparency and higher productivity.
Tip 1: Lean on technology to create transparency. Our team has been using Slack to keep up with each other and offer quick updates. But it’s not just about corresponding via Slack reactively - it’s about being proactive in communicating with your coworkers. When you step away from your computer for an extended period of time, you can - and should - let your coworkers know that you won’t be responsive for a bit. Taking breaks is necessary, especially when you’re stuck within the four walls of your home for the most part, but be transparent about your whereabouts so your peers know where to find you if they need to reach you.
You should also be clear about when you’ve received a message. Just think, if someone walked up to you in the office and asked you a question, would you ignore them? Whether it’s by letting the sender know that you’ve received the message and will work on it, or giving a response as simple as a thumbs up emoji, it’s important to acknowledge receipt so the person on the other end isn’t left in the dark.
Tip 2: Know when to migrate from emails to phone calls. Emails and Slack are great. That is, until you find yourself messaging back and forth without knowing if the person you’re corresponding with is actually understanding you. Don’t be afraid to give someone a call to clarify a message or to have a quick discussion to make sure everyone is aligned. An hour spent messaging each other back and forth can be resolved with a five-minute phone conversation. Bonus points if you make it a video call so you can reconnect with your coworker or client and get a little face-to-face interaction.
Tip 3: Check in on a daily basis. Alipes is an agile agency, and with that comes daily stand-ups where we all provide updates on what we worked on the previous day and what we intend to do today. This has proven to be especially helpful when we’re all out of the office, as it creates greater accountability and transparency around what we’re all working on, and can provide insight into who may need extra support.
Also, try to check in on your coworkers on a personal level. We’re all going through an unprecedented time in history. There’s no guidebook, and day-to-day life has tipped on its head. We need human connection now more than ever, so don’t hesitate to reach out to see how someone’s day has been going, or what they’ve been doing in their free time. On top of that, work relationships have been shown to improve employee wellbeing, which then increases productivity, so personal conversations are certainly not a waste of time.
Tip 4: Use active voice in your communications and provide clear next steps. Working remotely strips the ability to read nonverbal cues. When you’re unable to follow up on matters in person, you’re provided with less context than you otherwise would have had, making discerning an email or message even more challenging than before. A way to circumvent the issue is by using active voice. Active voice provides clarity and allows you to concisely state your point. People listen to active voice, and by using it, you assert your confidence in what you’re saying.
You should also make sure to include next steps if you’re collaborating with someone via online messages. Stating what needs to be done and outlining who needs to take action enables the team to progress faster and ensures that nobody drops the ball.
Tip 5: Be clear about deadlines. When you’re working with others on a project, be clear about what needs to be done, and when. You should set priorities on certain tasks to make sure everything is accomplished on time, and should communicate with your teammates to ensure alignment. Everyone needs to be on the same page to turn deliverables around quickly, especially if your clients have tighter deadlines and budgets due to the pandemic.
And sometimes, when all is said and done, you may need to look for additional digital support to improve your communication strategy. We’ve worked on everything from updating clients' intranets, to creating new website architectures, to helping clients tell their stories in new, innovative ways, and more, and are ready to offer a fresh perspective to anyone who needs help during this trying time. All you have to do is let us know how we can help.