5 Tips for Maintaining Effective Communication While Working from Home

With the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve seen a major shift towards working from home throughout the world, and at Idea 11 – there’s no exception. Since the 16th of March 2020, all Idea 11 employees have been encouraged to work-from-home to promote the concept of social distancing and to support society’s efforts at #FlatteningtheCurve. While the full health, societal and economic impacts of COVID-19 remain uncertain, what remains certain and at the forefront of each employee’s mind here at Idea 11 is that we must continue to provide first class support to our customers, especially during this critical time.

We’ve all heard that successful companies are built on a good idea, a shared purpose, a great culture and inspirational leadership – but how do you continue nurturing these things when everyone is working from home? At Idea 11, we believe that one of the key ingredients to this is ‘effective communication’. From making quick tactical decisions at times of crisis, to giving our teams a well- needed morale boost at a time when it’s most needed – effective communication (and collaboration amongst teams) will separate the losers from the winners.

So, how do we ensure effective communication? At Idea 11, we’ve responded to this challenge by ramping up our usage of Microsoft Teams across the entire business. This has empowered us to increase collaboration within and across teams while facilitating easy, no hassle, and reliable communication with our customers, particularly those that are most impacted by COVID-19.

As you know, introducing a new communication platform to the business is just the first hurdle. The next is ensuring that employees start (and continue) using it effectively. It would be easy to write about the various features Microsoft Teams has, but that’s boring – and probably well understood by most. Instead, here are some insights into how Idea 11 is leveraging Microsoft Teams to stay well connected. Hopefully, this inspires you to do the same.

Have an ‘online first’ approach

Just because we’re working from home, it doesn’t mean we need to cancel meetings that would normally take place in person. To ensure operations continue to be unaffected, rather than cancelling and delaying meetings, Idea 11 has adopted an “online first” approach. This applies to customer and internal meetings alike – and to date, this has been surprisingly effective.

Have fun, and keep things normal

While working in the office, there’s always opportunities to disconnect from work. Sometimes it’s a quick chat with a co-worker in the hallway, or a coffee run with a few colleagues. Just because we’re working from home, this doesn’t need to stop. Instead of physically grabbing a coffee with a colleague, why not have a virtual coffee instead? Set up a video conference with a co-worker, brew a nice cup of coffee at home, and chat like you normally would.

Encourage collaboration

Most projects and complex tasks require a collective effort – a group of people dedicated to achieving something great. When physically in the office, this is typically pretty easy – tap someone on the shoulder and ask for help – or book a meeting room and invite those that you need to solve the next big problem. Obviously, for most, this is no longer possible. Microsoft Teams, from the ground up, is designed to promote collaboration. Features such as screen sharing, voice and video chat, virtual whiteboarding sessions, and contextual channels can be easily integrated into your daily workflows. Additionally, with Microsoft Teams’ seamless integration with other Office 365 services, you can quickly – at little or no extra cost – extend the capabilities of your entire organisation.

Add a personal touch

Work is important, especially as the world economy slows down, but relationships are as well. Instead of creating channels that are only work-specific, create ones where people feel safe sharing random ideas, calling out achievements, sharing funny or informational content, or posting a cute photo of their pet. When you’re in the office, you don’t always talk work – so there’s no reason to change now.

Manage differently

As a manager, being there for your team is important – especially when transitioning from the office to working from home. For most, working from home is a fundamental change to an individual’s daily habits. This can increase uncertainty on expectations, and sometimes, increase anxiety and stress levels. It’s vital that managers, team leads and even senior leadership, adapt their management styles to make the best use of communication tools, while not compromising on important activities like 1-on-1s, team meetings, progress updates, and weekly stand-ups.

If you – or someone you know – is currently transitioning from office work to working-from-home, and needs advice and/or support in implementing technology to facilitate this change, reach out to us at sales@idea11.com.au. We’re here to help.