How to communicate effectively at work
Some might call ‘the rules’ of workplace communication obvious – be polite, be engaged and choose your words carefully.
But what parameters are many offices missing the mark on when it comes to workplace interaction and how we can make it most effective? Let’s talk about it… 🙂
First, some research on what we’re dealing with. In its first Workplace Wellness Report, email app Superhuman, found that:
- 44% of knowledge workers said that their company has no norms and standards around workplace communication. (That’s a bit disturbing.)
- 80% preferred more effective communication throughout their company than the ability to attend a fancy all-company event offsite. (Wow, that’s saying something!)
- 26% of workers listed too many emails in their inbox as one of their top distractions.
With an increasing percentage of the American workforce taking to their home office as opposed to being onsite, we must acknowledge how drastically this has affected our methods of communication and pivot accordingly. Gone are the days when you have immediate access to the coworker seated at the desk next to you. So how can we facilitate open lines of communication for the remote workforce?
My two cents on how to make remote interaction more efficient:
Forego the email inbox.
If your question warrants a succinct response, don’t rely on email. Pivot to a live conversation. If it can be discussed via phone, or even better by video conference, opt for that when you can’t be together in person. Many times, you can’t tell tone, urgency or context easily through email conversations or written communication. Avoid any confusion by taking the conversation live.
Don’t leave a teammate wondering, “did they get my message?”
What expectations do we have in place for communication response time? Well, with being connected 24/7 via email, social media, texting, FaceTime, etc. it’s become very short. But realistically, a 24-hour window to expect written communication replies should suffice for many organizations. And if you don’t have an answer, at least respond so they know you got the message and you’re working on it.
When you’re in a video call, turn your camera on. This is especially important when it’s a small gathering taking place over Teams or Zoom. It demonstrates your engagement in the conversation and your effort to really hear what your team members have to say. According to The Conference Board, disengaged employees could cost organizations more than $450 billion dollars per year. This loss is experienced in wage dollars, retraining time, loss of profit, loss of sales and much more.
Now, on the flip side, how can we make in-person interaction the most valuable?
That optional team bonding activity: don’t make it optional!
With opportunities for onsite engagement so few and far between, make time in your busy schedule for that work happy hour. Leave the work at the desk and take that hour of your day to befriend and bond with your coworkers. Knowing the people you work with as human beings before you know them as your coworkers will prove to be more impactful to any collaborative environment than an extra hour worked during a happy hour. In fact, it’s also good for business. Employee productivity increases by 20% to 25% in organizations where employees are connected, per Inc.com.
Host a meeting with no agenda
Hosting 30 minutes to an hour for an open forum allows employees to lead the conversation instead of the management team. Whether this time is used to discuss logistical questions, areas of opportunity for the business or even just praise someone on the team, opening this time for employees to bring up things on their minds and have both the listening ear of their peers and leadership will prove to be invaluable.
No matter what your work world may look like, whether an onsite engagement or remote indefinitely, communicating with your teammates, and doing so efficiently, must remain top of mind.
About the author
Meredith Pannek serves as a Creative Recruiter in the Synergis Atlanta office. She started out as an Associate Recruiter and was promoted to Recruiter after only five months and focuses on placing UX Design and UX Research candidates. As a recent University of Georgia graduate, her work as Vice President of Recruitment Counselors for UGA helped prepare her for her role as a Recruiter at Synergis. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, advertising and applied communication, so you might say she’s an expert in communication strategies. When she’s not busy recruiting, she enjoys going on long walks, traveling with friends and trying out all the local Atlanta restaurants.
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