Just because workers are remote doesn’t mean communication has to be difficult.
Effective corporate communications are especially challenging as remote work becomes the norm in a post-COVID-19 world.
There are 13.4 million remote employees in the United States, and while there are certainly benefits to remote work, miscommunication and a lack of information are common issues these workers face. In fact, a survey of more than 1,000 employees found that remote workers were more likely to report feeling left out or shunned by coworkers and have a harder time resolving office conflicts.
The key to productive corporate communications, though, is understanding the challenges and taking steps to combat them. Here’s how to do just that.
Set Corporate Communications Protocols
From email and instant messages to Trello and Slack, there’s no shortage of communication and workflow tools available to modern workers. But when there are too many tools and channels and no specific protocols on how to use them, employees can become overwhelmed.
This makes it difficult for workers to know how to prioritize their responsibilities, and productivity can be impacted. Frequent notifications from corporate communications tools can interrupt workers. In fact, the average employee is interrupted 56 times a day and spends two hours recovering from interruptions.
The solution to this problem is to designate communications tools and outline specifically how employees should use them. This is especially important if some employees work in an office and others are remote.
Consider this scenario: It may be easy for an in-office employee to ask a worker at a nearby desk for a status update, but remote employees wouldn’t receive that information. Instead, avoid this issue with a protocol that dictates that all questions and updates must be posted in the appropriate Slack channel, for example.
Begin by prioritizing written communication, which 59% of employees say is the most important when working remotely. And since employees spend more than five hours a week just waiting for information, it’s also important to use a tool like instant messaging or Slack that’s designed to help workers get prompt responses.
Do More with Email to Improve Corporate Communications
There are a variety of corporate communications tools available for the modern workplace, but email still has its place. In fact, 95% of workers say that email is their primary communication channel.
Clearly, email is an essential tool for remote workers, and you can use it for much more in internal communications than just sending messages to coworkers.
“Email is used for more formal communication between and across teams together with company-wide announcements,” said Morena Simatic, OptimoRoute’s VP of Marketing and Growth. “It is an essential way of communication, as it sends out a clear message that can be easily accessible.”
Email is also useful for crisis communications, change management, and regular employee newsletters. And it comes in handy for outlining important updates for the entire organization. “We send a weekly update email where each team bullets key things they’re working on,” said Tom Randle, Geckoboard’s VP of operations.
With ContactMonkey, you can easily create eye-catching emails and newsletters with a drag-and-drop email template builder, collect employee feedback, and even track the success of your emails. In other words, it empowers your organization to get the most out of this crucial corporate communications tool.
Establish a Clear Workflow for Corporate Communications
Remote workers are often advised to overcommunicate to prevent messaging errors, and this can certainly be effective. However, when managers continually follow up with employees and request status updates, overcommunication can veer into micromanagement territory.
And that can be bad news for employee retention. A survey found that 71% of workers said micromanagement interfered with their job performance, and 69% said they’d considered leaving their company to escape micromanagement.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix to increase visibility and discourage micromanagement: simply set up a work-management system to create an easy-to-understand workflow and monitor activity. Tools like Trello and Asana, for example, make it a breeze to assign tasks, update everyone on project statuses, and more — regardless of time zone.
At Trello, the entire business uses its product’s boards and cards to organize information both company-wide and in individual departments like marketing.
“When someone drops a card in our ‘Incoming’ list, the marketing team discusses the content,” said Lauren Moon, Trello senior product marketing manager. “Even if we decide it’s not a fit for our blog, we like to think about where else the content could be published.”
And with ContactMonkey, teams can take corporate communications cooperation a step further by collaborating on internal messaging. The revision comments within ContactMonkey’s template builder allow participants to share feedback, have conversations, and approve revisions within the email itself before sending.
Hold Regular Video Calls to Improve Corporate Communications
It’s estimated that up to 90% of communication is nonverbal, so navigating a work environment where employees often can’t observe body language or hear tone of voice can cause misunderstandings. So much of remote communication is asynchronous, but there’s value in holding consistent video calls among workers so they can get some face time in and work on their own communication skills.
Regular face-to-face meetings enable smoother communication because employees can read nonverbal cues. And this type of corporate communications can even increase participation. In fact, 67% of employees say they’re more inclined to contribute to discussions that are held via video conferencing.
Plus, this time allows workers to build rapport and relationships. Eighty-seven percent of remote employees say they feel more connected with both their coworkers and their projects when they participate in video calls.
Weekly team video conferences are essential to ensure that everyone is on the same page and communicating effectively.
Build Camaraderie Among Team Members
In the office, workers say hello in the hallways, make conversation by the watercooler, and share life updates while refilling their coffee mugs. This builds rapport, turns coworkers into friends, and makes working alongside each other easier.
Creating this kind of environment isn’t as easy in a remote-first workplace, but it’s certainly possible to foster employee engagement.
“Perhaps counter to what most people think, it’s totally possible to manufacture ‘office serendipity,’” said Michael Grinich, founder and CEO of WorkOS.
There are several ways to recreate this serendipitous experience in the remote workplace.
Organizations can set up channels in Slack or group chats for nonwork conversation, they can hold virtual team-building activities, and they can host occasional get-to-know-you or AMA sessions with employees, just to name a few. Fully remote content marketing agency Animalz, for example, recently held a company-wide talent show via Zoom, which allowed employees to see each other sing, dance, craft, and even train cats.
“For the social part, we have started writing more together and posting personal and nonwork things in our Slack channels,” said David Kofoed Wind, CEO and cofounder of Eduflow. “Additionally, we have started using the app Donut to randomly schedule one-on-one [conversations] between team members each week.”
Be Willing to Evolve Your Corporate Communications
Clearly, remote workers face several communications challenges, but there are ways to overcome them. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of trying out different tools and solutions and determining what works best for your organization.
This is exactly what Eduflow has done. “We started as a fully co-located company with a [headquarters] in Copenhagen and have slowly become almost fully remote,” Wind said. “This has meant that we have gone through a long series of iterations towards having a remote communication paradigm that actually works for us.”
Not sure what’s working for your employees? Get feedback on your corporate communications processes by including surveys in your regular email messages. This is a cinch with ContactMonkey, which allows its users to embed pulse surveys, accept anonymous comments, and more.
You can ask employees to provide written feedback on how the organization uses communications tools or even request that they respond with an emoji, as in the example above.
Workers Should Be the Focus of Employee Communications
The key to effective corporate communications in a remote-first workplace is to focus on what your workers need.
This means establishing protocols and workflows, prioritizing written communications and video calls, fostering relationships among workers, and being willing to pivot and try new methods when necessary.
But that’s not all you can do. If your organization truly wants to streamline communications, you need to get more out of email, and ContactMonkey makes that possible.
See how you can take company emails to the next level. Book a personalized demo today!