Over the past few years, we’ve all gotten used to the idea of remote work. For every company that does not allow remote working currently, there are many others leveraging the power of remote work or hybrid workplaces to save money, raise efficiency, and improve employee morale and retention.
There are several advantages to having a remote or hybrid workplace. But communication continues to present challenges. In some ways, the way we communicate remotely needs a serious overhaul – and many individuals and organizations are reluctant to execute a change.
The State of Modern Remote Communication
Making the transition to remote work has been relatively easy for most, thanks to the technology we currently have in place. High speed internet and better applications have allowed us to video chat with each other, instantly message each other, and reach each other on dozens of different online media channels.
Even in fields that required businesses and customers to be on-site, the change is palpable. Take real estate for example. When you want to invest in property outside of where you live or even manage it from afar, virtual tours of the property, online price comparisons, video chats with the property manager, web-connected portals through which you can directly oversee and manage property are all excellent options enabled by the technology we have today.
However, modern remote communication can sometimes feel clunky, redundant, inefficient, and counterproductive.
Issues With Our Approach
What are the main problems with the way we currently approach remote communication?
- Vestigial time waste: For starters, we have vestigial time waste. In our haste to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses transitioned to working from home without much forethought into the new remote or hybrid work environment. We simply took all the communication we would typically practice in office and shoehorned it into a remote model. Meetings have always been a nuisance, at least in terms of productivity and efficiency. Email chains grow long and convoluted when there are too many people involved. And we all have at least some coworkers who don’t seem to understand that it’s a breach of etiquette to send a text message at 10:45 pm. We’re all wasting time, at least in some ways, by continuing to practice communication methods that are no longer effective or relevant.
- Inappropriate channels: One of the great advantages of our time is that we have many different communication channels to utilize. We can send an email, make a call, send a text, video chat, or use one of dozens of different apps to reach the person we want. However, every individual has different preferences, and there’s no standard training to educate people on which channels are best for which applications. Accordingly, we end up using inappropriate channels far too frequently – and under-utilizing some of the best channels available.
- Technical hiccups: For many organizations, technical hiccups continue to be a problem. Video lag, internet disruptions, and poor audio quality are just a handful of examples. The good news is that most of these technical hiccups are quickly and easily resolved – and they may go away entirely with a solid new investment.
- Lack of experience: Work-from-home is still a relatively new concept. We don’t have decades of practice and refinement behind us; instead, most of us were thrust into this world unexpectedly. The truth is, we don’t know what the perfect approaches are because we haven’t yet discovered them or had time to fully try them out.
- Lack of scalability: It’s not hard to coordinate communication between two or three people in a remote setting. But what about managing meetings between 20 different people at once? What about coordinating communication across multiple departments in an international organization? The bigger an organization becomes, the harder remote communication becomes.
- Personal differences: Not everyone will agree on the best approach to remote communication. A good remote communication model will allow for these personal differences, accentuating them in areas, rather than forcing everyone to adhere to only one standard.
How We Can Change
So what can we do to change how we approach remote communication?
- Embracing the omnichannel approach: The “omnichannel” concept is a familiar one. But we have yet to fully embrace the power of using different channels for different purposes. Better documentation, better guidance, and more versatility can all help here.
- Redesigning from the ground up: Rather than transposing old communication methods into a remote environment, we need to tear everything down and redesign from the ground up. If we build our communication approaches based on remote environments, will be much more successful at navigating them.
- Nimbly adapting: Remember, remote work is still in its infancy. There’s still a lot we need to adapt to. As we learn more information and gather more data, the most successful organizations will be the ones who adapt.
We’re overdue for a remote communications overhaul. Do you want your organization to be on the leading edge? Or are you complacent with your current levels of efficiency and morale?