Communications Week: Inspiring connectedness in times of crisis

Communications Week was founded in 2014 to bring together the greatest minds in PR and media. Every year, this comms calendar favourite pinpoints some of the most pressing issues that the industry is facing. This year, the theme begins with C. No, not the C word that dominates every single conversation. Sigh. Another C. Connections. Specifically, new ways of connecting and doing business globally.

So, how can you connect with new colleagues and clients without being able to meet face-to-face? What are the best tools for keeping teams connected? And, beyond Zoom, how can you maintain strong connections in a virtualised world? As an integrated communications firm that specialises in workplace, we thought we’d offer our top tips for managing and nurturing relationships in this strange new world:

Over-communicate

There’s no such thing as too much communication when you’re working as a dispersed team. Schedule 1-2-1 check-ins and be clear and transparent – ambiguity is the enemy of remote working.

Invest in good technology

A strong WiFi connection and an ergonomic set-up with keyboard, mouse and second screen is essential for long-term remote working.

Swot up on tech

Comms platforms like BlueJeans, Google Hangouts, GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex, WhatsApp and Zoom, and collaborative tools such as Airtable, Basecamp, Doodle, Dropbox, Front, Google Drive, I Done This, Monday, Proofhub, Serene, Slack, Taskade, Taskworld, Todoist, Trello, Troop Messenger, Wunderlist (the list goes on!) are brilliant ways for people to work together seamlessly when remote working. Work out what’s best for you and your team or organisation. Here’s our guide on comms tools for remote working.

Turn video cameras on

We may all be suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’ but seeing people improves communication as it allows for the sharing of visual cues during discussions and ensures nobody drifts off mid-meeting. There are some simple, easy to implement steps which will enable you to be your best self on video. Magenta associate and personal coach Dannie-Lu Carr ran this virtual training session on how to inspire, influence, motivate and engage as well as get clarity in your messages and maximise your relationships with others via webcam.

Stick to a routine

Adopt similar routines as you would in the office. An official start and end time to the day avoids work slipping into the evening. Do Not Disturb functions on tech tools can be used to give people the time and space to work on a longer project.

Use a calendar

Encourage people to share their diaries and keep them updated. It’s hard to keep up with a people’s work schedule when you don’t see each other every day. Teams spread across different geographies will also be working in different time zones. Knowing in advance when your colleagues have calls or virtual meetings can save frustration and help you plan in advance. It’s particularly important for people to diarise if they’re not able to work because of caring commitments or illness. 

Give yourself a break

Instigate a virtual coffee break for your team. By getting everyone together on camera with a cup of coffee at a set time, you break the monotony and boost morale. 

Encourage self-care

Consider producing a self-care guide which can help people maintain good physical and mental health while remote working. This could include tips on avoiding back and eye strain, the importance of taking a proper lunch break and getting fresh air, exercise ideas, advice on good nutrition and tips for a good night’s sleep. 

Break bad news well

For employers, delivering bad news is a reality of the job, a fact that has come into sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you fail to master the art of delivering bad news respectfully, gracefully and clearly, then the person on the receiving end may suffer more than they have to. Here’s our guide to breaking bad news. Magenta Associates is also running a webinar about how to deliver sensitive news, in partnership with the Women in Property Association, on 4th November 2020 at 6pm.

Celebrate success

It’s easy for great work to go unnoticed when teams are working remotely. By overtly celebrating successes and rewarding people for their performance in a public way, morale is maintained and people feel recognised for the work they’re doing.

Never has it been so important to stay connected. People look to their managers or partners for trusted information and guidance. They will want to be kept informed should any changes affect them or their teams, and they will want to be updated in a clear and timely manner.

How and what you communicate will ultimately be determined by the scale and complexity of the information you have to relay as well as its likely impact on the receiver. Whatever the news, strong and focused communication is key to ensuring everyone’s on the same page and working towards the same goal. For more tips, check out our guides on communicating with remote teams and communicating the return to the office.

Jo Sutherland
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