Working from home has its share of ups and downs. Some days it can seem like everything from your internet connection to your dog is trying to stop you from working and communicating effectively. One of the biggest causes of lost time in this new remote environment is miscommunication.
In an office, it’s easy to pop over and ask someone a question. From home, it can mean time lost waiting for emails, Skype calls, and text messages. To help you minimise these time-wasters here are some tips for effective communication.
The English language is one which is full of nuance and inference. In conversation, where you can read body language and register someone’s tone it’s easy to recognise instructions, questions, and jokes. When your only correspondence is through messaging or emails this nuance can get lost. Always confirm, after a meeting or briefing, even if it means repeating yourself, summarise your discussion and decide on the next steps before hanging up. This ensures everyone communicates effectively and is aware of what is expected of them.
Avoid Using General Words and Vague Terminology
Again, when in physical proximity to someone it’s easy to understand what ‘It’, ‘this’, and ‘that’ are. Either through gestures or proximity, you can be fairly sure if the person you’re talking to is discussing an email, project, or even just plans for the weekend. In remote conversation, these words can become vague and confusing. Message chains, especially with entire teams, can become a hodgepodge of different streams and conversations. Wherever possible use the name of the project, job, or document. This helps people who are new to the conversation find what you want them to work on and avoids any broken telephone errors.
Provide the Framework
Time is another factor that can be lost when working remotely. The urgency in someone’s voice is easy to pick up. Along with this working in an office together means you’re often more aware of deadlines and timeframes. When you’re working from home these timelines can become a bit more abstract. Make sure that every project has a definitive timeline that every member of the project can consult. This will make it easier for people to plan accordingly and avoid nasty surprises.
Use a Central Hub
You must have a central hub where all your work and correspondence goes. This hub can help keep teams and clients informed as to where projects are, what work has been done, and what still needs doing. They also are great for tracking time and making sure that everyone is accountable for their work and time. There are plenty of management systems to choose from. The likes of Basecamp come packed with features that make working, tracking time, and communicating with one another easy. If you haven’t invested in one, it’s about time you do.
Integrate for Seamless Sharing
Modern connectivity also makes it easy to work collaboratively with people, even from the comfort of your living room. Google Calendar, Outlook, Google Drive, Zoom, Skype, and countless other free apps can be used and integrated into your daily work practices. All you need is a stable internet line and some small talk to make the morning meetings just a little bit easier.
Overall, improving communication can improve every aspect of your business. David Grossman reports in his “The Cost of Poor Communications”; a survey of ‘400 companies showed on average a loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.’
He goes on to state that ‘miscommunication alone can cost small businesses (100 employees) an average of $420,000 each year.’ This is a huge failing that can be avoided. All you need to do is optimise your business and open up your channels for transparent, instantaneous, effective communication.
At Fifteen, we have taken remote work to heart and create masterful digital campaigns while working from several locations at once. If you’re interested in developing your website, rebranding, or optimising your site for SEO and content then contact us today. We’re ready to supercharge your brand and help you reach your full potential.