6 tips to improve communication if you’re working from home

More of us than ever are working from home in some capacity as the country deals with the impact of coronavirus. It could be a change in the way we work in the long term too. Working from home options have gradually been increasing but as businesses explore an alternative to the traditional office setting during the lockdown it could accelerate.

There are plenty of benefits to working from home. We’re sure some of you are enjoying not having to commute or being able to cook on your lunch break. But it comes with challenges too. Communication is still vital, perhaps even more so during these uncertain times, and maintaining effective comms can be difficult when teams are working remotely. Whether it’s colleagues or clients you need to connect with, these six tips may help.

1. Make use of video conferencing technology

Whilst phone and instant messaging platforms are useful, video conferencing technology can be invaluable when working from home. There are plenty of non-verbal cues that can get missed in a call and using video can help bridge the gap. Whether it’s clients or colleagues you need to talk to, a video call can build a better connection.

At HA&W, we’ve moved our usual face-to-face client meetings to Zoom. It means we’re able to chat with clients naturally and show information or graphics when needed too. It’s proven an effective way to maintain communication across our team too.

2. Set regular meetings and catch-ups

Following on from the above, make meetings a regular part of your diary. No one wants to spend all day in meetings that aren’t relevant, but they can really help. Even just a five-minute catch-up in the morning can help ensure everyone is on the same page and any issues are resolved quickly.

When it comes to clients and other stakeholders outside of your business, regular meetings can help provide confidence in the services you’re delivering too. During the lockdown, some people may be worried about how things will change and the impact it will have them. A quick catch-up may be all that it takes to provide some reassurance that can boost your reputation over the long term too.

3. Make sure instructions are clear

Handing over instructions digitally can be useful in some ways, as they allow the recipient to refer back to them. But it can be difficult if they’re unable to ask questions or the instructions are interpreted differently. Take some time to make sure they make sense and provide as much information as possible, including examples if you can. Ask yourself if you would be able to understand them without your knowledge? Are deadlines and expectations clear? Taking some time to consider these questions before sending can help ensure everything runs smoothly and in line with expectations.

4. Consider the context of messages

Without body language and tone of voice, it can be difficult to interpret the context behind the message. It’s something that’s important to keep in mind when working from home and in the office as you send out an email or instant message.

Make sure you write a message with the understanding that that’s all the recipient will say. A comment that would usually raise a smile in a face-to-face meeting can be interpreted very differently when it’s written down. Miscommunication can affect project delivery and relationships, so take care.

5. Stick to regular working hours where possible

If you’re working collaboratively, this really helps to make sure things keep progressing forward. It can be frustrating if you send a query during that day that isn’t picked up until the evening due to someone working unusual hours.

Of course, during the current situation, it may not be possible to work a typical nine until five day. You or those you work with may have young children to entertain during the day, so working during the evening makes more sense, for example. If this is the case, make sure those involved in projects and ongoing work know when you’ll be available.

6. Don’t forget the ‘water-cooler chit-chat’

When you’re working from home, it’s easy for team chats to revolve around work. But having a ‘water cooler chit-chat’ is still important. It can help you connect with colleagues and you may find informal conversations are a great space for thinking more creatively or solving a problem. Every now and again, why not have a coffee break with a work friend you’d usually chat to or kick-off meetings with a bit of small talk rather than diving straight in. It’s a step that’s good for your mental health too.

At HA&W, our team is now working remotely, and face-to-face meetings have been cancelled. But it’s still ‘business as usual’ for our staff, find out more here. If you have any questions at all, please contact us.