COMMUNICATION – A critical skill for remote working

With many countries enforcing shelter-in-place or lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic a large number of employees are working remotely. This sudden shift to working from home may be a new situation for many, and they may be facing adjustment problems, which are affecting their performance. However, it looks like we may be facing this scenario for some time to come and need to familiarize and adapt ourselves to the changing realities.

In my opinion, one of the most important skills we will all need in this scenario is the ability to communicate effectively. Working remotely will require that you as a Manager will have to interact and support the needs of all your team members, wherever they may be located. In the special situation we are in, we require to work with each team member according to their unique needs and priorities. Some tips you can focus on are :

  1. Adapt your communication style to new requirements. Strong interpersonal communication skills play in key role in having a meaningful exchange of information via digital communication.
  2.  Maybe schedule more frequent calls to evaluate how things are going or fix status meetings every morning / evening to assess the progress and provide guidance where required.
  3. Consider any unique conditions employees are working in and come up with required tailor made solutions.
  4. Focus on boosting team morale by humanizing the virtual workplace. Celebrate small successes, birthdays etc to promote team bonding.  

For an employee, the importance of communication skills in our professional life has increased.  The need to communicate is ongoing and managers look upon communication as an essential skill in new recruits or candidates for promotion. Especially in the current situation, we are required to communicate appropriately at all levels, under and above ourselves.

Today, this skill is gaining a lot more importance, as the ability to interact on a face to face and personal level has disappeared. We need to communicate in an appropriate manner via media or telecommuting and for this we require to listen effectively, write concisely and clearly, use appropriate language and vocabulary so that the communication process is clear and transparent. Just coming up with novel ideas is not enough; you also need to be able to communicate them effectively.

While we are using technology like Zoom, Teems etc to see and speak with one another, we still need to follow the processes for participating and effectively communicating during a meeting. How you conduct yourself and participate with colleagues, is what will highlight your contributions and involvement during the process. Your communication skills count a lot in such a situation, as being able to customize your language, exhibiting a varied vocabulary based on your audience to present your point of view is essential. You can also use supportive material to make a visual impact by using a few slides, including graphs, charts or bullet points to highlight your point of view. Our body language, gestures with tone and pitch of voice also help to stress and clarify our areas of importance.

Take advantage of the opportunity to let you Manager and team members know of the status of your work. Being transparent about what you are doing will give others the opportunity to give feedback and even suggestions on how things may be done better. Ask questions during the meeting, as gaining clarity on any information presented or on any project you need to work on will help you to do a better job. It will also depict your involvement and interest in the work going on and highlight your role and interest level.

Those people are successful who make it clear to themselves and their manager that they know their responsibilities. So the best way to wrap things up is to summarize your actions to be done, you can follow up the meeting with an email of minutes of the meeting with a list of things to do and the next steps. By doing so, your manager will also get the opportunity to give a quick review or any input from his / her side.

Finally, it is important to recognize and accept that things have changed and may remain so for some time. So adjusting to the new norms is essential for our success. We should utilize every opportunity we get to demonstrate our leadership and command over our job and our ability to work independently.

Wrapping up – ease into the meeting, share what you have been working on, communicate clearly and concisely, ask any questions you need to gain understanding of next steps and highlight the action steps needed to take you forward while maintaining your performance.

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