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Staying connected while working from home

Many of us will be returning to offices in greater numbers in the weeks to come but the concept of working from home (or other locations) promises to be a regular occurrence for many Australians going forward.

Remote work can be enjoyable and efficient but there are challenges when it comes to how you replace daily workplace interactions.

An obvious question revolves around how you stay professionally connected to colleagues to keep business as close to usual as possible.

But don’t underestimate the social side of our jobs. Without physically being in the workplace together there is no opportunity for the casual walk-by remarks – the “how’s it going?” or the Monday morning “how was your weekend?”.

Here are some tips to help address create a connected remote workforce:

  • Get chatty: by that I mean instant chat, voice chat and video chat. This allows you to address the technical challenge of a scattered workforce no longer operating under one roof. A tool like Microsoft Teams offers all these chat options while integrating well with other programs to help keep productivity up.
  • Diversify: not for diversity’s sake but for business continuity. As useful as Microsoft Teams is, it also crashed in Europe during the pandemic – showing the dangers of putting all your technological eggs in one basket. It pays to have different tools for different tasks in case one has an outage. Platforms like Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Workplace by Facebook can work in conjunction with Teams. One piece of advice – make it clear to your team which tools will be used for what purpose and when, and reinforce this regularly.
  • Embrace emojis: not for dealing with clients and customers but for internal communications. This can be a somewhat scary proposition for businesses focussed on professional communications but remember we’re losing much of the nuance of face-to-face conversations. By using smiley faces and virtual high-fives, you can easily signal in chats when you’re making a joke or have something to celebrate.
  • Act like you’re in the office: tidy your house (or at least your study), iron a fresh shirt and put it on, and jump on a video call with a colleague. You might be surprised at how good it feels and how well it alleviates cabin fever.
  • Rediscover the phone call: one by-product of our technological times is that we barely use our phones for what they were designed for…talking to people! Reacquaint yourself with this ancient form of communication – even if you are doing it via an online tool. Hearing your voice might make a world of difference to one of your colleagues and vice versa.

Above all, don’t forget this fluid situation is constantly evolving. Your approach to meeting the challenges of remote working should also evolve.

The key to success is trial and error. You will eventually find a natural rhythm and settle on systems and processes that will be useful well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cannings Purple’s Head of Digital Glenn Langridge is an expert in digital campaigning and data analysis, including the use of analytics to inform and guide digital strategies.

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