How businesses can utilise remote communication platforms in a healthy way
Remote working is becoming the favoured setup for lots of companies, due to the many benefits it offers to both individual employees and businesses as a whole. In this article, we will touch on the rise of remote working over the past few years, and explore how this change has affected employee experience and the importance of establishing healthy communication channels.
With traditional, face to face methods of communication being lost in favour of virtual meetings and instant chats, businesses need to learn how to establish a healthy remote company culture. For some, the challenges these changes have brought are easily outweighed by the improved work/life balance experienced when working remotely. For others, communicating effectively has become somewhat difficult.
Businesses need to ensure they have the right tools and training in place to ensure their employees can communicate effectively and efficiently throughout their working days, whether they are in the office or working from home.
Let's take a look at how businesses can utilise remote communication platforms to inspire a healthy remote culture within their teams.
Remote communication platforms play an important role in professional development. Whether you use a central ‘library’ to store any useful resources and opportunities for further learning, or simply encourage people to collaborate with one another, there are lots of ways these platforms can be used to boost professional development.
Internal chats and communication platforms can also be used to share positive feedback from colleagues or clients, whilst also helping to connect different teams who may rarely work on projects together. From formal emails informing other teams about current projects and progress to more informal social media style platforms, it's important to keep everyone in the loop and involved with the big picture of your company.
Find common ground outside of work
Workers in remote roles often miss out on impromptu discussions that take place in the office, which can include small talk about their personal lives or even used to gain clarity over work-based projects.
Digital communication platforms can also be used to open up these conversations in the virtual world, by having dedicated pages for different topics and by encouraging a culture of openness among your employees. Pets, book clubs or TV shows that people are currently watching are all good examples of topics people can discuss in these spaces, and teams should feel welcome to have an allocated time each week to generally catch-up and focus on forming stronger relationships with colleagues.
Encourage people to set their boundaries
For people who have struggled with their work/life balance since working from home, there’s often a feeling of always needing to be available to respond to messages. But this constant pressure can affect wellbeing. By encouraging people to set their working hours on these platforms, you can help your employees manage their screen time and set personal limits to avoid burnout or feeling overwhelmed. Whether that’s blocking out times in their digital calendar, or using the “do not disturb” function on instant messaging platforms, there’s plenty of ways that employees can manage their boundaries.
Part of using remote communication platforms in a healthy way is understanding when not to use them. Employees should be trained on correct etiquette when communicating online, and given good examples of when it is and isn't appropriate to do so. Whilst family-feel cultures can inspire and promote positive working relationships, it's important for everyone to understand the permanence of online communication and the potential impact that has.
Potential pitfalls of exclusively remote communication
There are a handful of potential pitfalls to exclusively communicating in this way that companies should be aware of. From loneliness to miscommunication, there are some potential downsides to solely remote communication that companies need to be aware of in order to prevent them turning into a bigger problem.
One of the biggest concerns for people that work solely remotely is isolation. It can be lonely to work from home, especially for those who live alone, and these feelings can lead to bigger health concerns such as anxiety and depression. By having a hybrid workforce, you give your employees the chance to not only work alongside other people some of the time but also to communicate on a more casual basis occasionally.
It's a good idea to also educate your employees on effective communication and the correct use of grammar, to ensure messages are delivered with clarity. This also reduces the amount of time people spend going back and forth trying to understand an instruction or request.
However you look to utilise online communication platforms, be sure to reflect on the tips mentioned here so that you can inspire a healthy culture within your hybrid or remote teams.
Having previously worked as a business consultant in the HR sector, James Fraser now writes posts that aim to improve communication in remote companies. He believes that by improving our relationship with communication technology, we can reduce stress and create connections.