Improve the written communication with your remote employees
A mutated virus has taken over globally. The streets are largely deserted, the widespread panic on a massive scale. Locked up in their own four walls suffering from existential fears, people are now sitting there, hoping this nightmare to end. What at first sounds like a well-made science fiction film has become the cruel reality of 2020. The coronavirus, or “Covid-19” for experts. While we cannot make any statements regarding the course of the pandemic, our goal is to support you, especially from the business side. The current framework conditions leave us with no other choice than to switch to a home office culture. But not everyone finds this transformation so easy.
That’s why we have already shared a Remote Work Guide, which is designed to provide you with effective assistance when getting started. Now we would like to extend this further and are therefore planning exclusive blog articles on the topic of “Remote Work” over the next weeks. Today we take a look at remote communication with the focus on “effective writing”.
The importance of communication in everyday home office life
In the office, the employee can visit the management at any time to ask questions or ask a colleague for help (at least that’s how it should be). From your point of view, it is also easier to explain work procedures in detail to the employee and to respond directly to questions. The lack of face-to-face communication and personal interaction often makes remote work a big challenge.
In remote work, communication is mainly asynchronous. This means that people do not have to be in direct contact to exchange information, but can take note of it at a later point in time. The opposite would be “synchronous communication”, such as a telephone conversation or a meeting. Asynchronous communication is particularly important in remote work, to avoid interrupting the employees’ workflow. Synchronous communication is often not even possible to different time zones. This also means that remote workers must communicate mainly in written form. And this is often the starting point of many misunderstandings and inefficient workflows.
Anyone who thinks that regular WhatsApp and Instagram chats make us communication experts in everyday remote work is wrong. Written communication with employees requires a lot of practice and should not be underestimated. In the following we explain which points should be considered.
Precise thinking and clear formulation
To avoid misunderstandings, the message communicated must also be easily accessible. Sounds simple, but this is where the basis of all problems often lurks. How you write the message is one thing, but how it is perceived by the employees is a different story. Believe us, as explainer video experts, we know exactly how difficult it can be to communicate just one idea to the target audience in a short and concise way. The same is true for the usual flow of information in everyday work. Therefore, before you compose an arbitrary message where the team has to decipher any logograms, take a moment and think carefully about how the information can be summarized as clearly and concisely as possible.
Pay attention to the undertone
Write with care! According to Psychology Today, 55 percent of communication is based on body language, 38 percent on our tone of voice and only 7 percent on spoken words. So how can this be adapted in a remote environment? Remote communication means that the power of facial expressions and gestures is eliminated. Every sentence, word and letter is given its own meaning. Using an exclamation mark, for example, can make the difference between being perceived as friendly or aggressive. Therefore, in order to achieve effective communication with a colleague or employee, each word and punctuation mark must be chosen (or not chosen) carefully.
After many years, I have found here by far the greatest weakness of corporate communication. The problem is that everyone has their own personal writing style and does not even think about how it might be perceived by the other person. An example from everyday life: A regular emoji user usually perceives a dry WhatsApp message with a simple “ok” as rather cool and distant. On the other hand, the rather “frugal communicator” may perceive a message with many emojis as too emotional or even disturbing. Therefore pay attention to the undertone of your message and adapt your communication style to the target person.
Short and concise, but complete
In remote communication it is important to get to the point quickly and not to digress from the topic unnecessarily. Especially with written information our attention can be lost quickly. In a conversation, the employee has the opportunity to ask a direct counter-question. However, this is not possible in written and asynchronous communication. Nevertheless, do not forget that your employees cannot read minds and are not clairvoyants. What is not written in black and white will not reach the team. So, short, concise and to the point, but still detailed enough for the recipient to understand the message exactly.
Keep it simple
Many of us tend to adopt a more formal tone in writing than in personal conversation. But you don’t have to. Depending on the company, keep your otherwise casual style and avoid unnecessary jargons and phrases that you would not use in oral communication. This can often lead to comprehension problems and thus hinder the flow of information. This will be particularly noticeable if you work with non-native speakers and other cultures.
A misinterpreted message and an employee paranoidly imagines a dismissal or other conspiracy theories. Internal communication is a real challenge even in the traditional office environment. But without personal contact, it is even more difficult. If an employee has done a good job, feel free to praise him or her a little. Even when criticism and suggestions for improvement are made, the team should hear about it directly so that mistakes can be corrected in time. Instead of private messages, it makes more sense to create public threads, so that the whole team receives a direct update. This eliminates misunderstandings and creates trust among the employees.
Don’t forget to proofread
We’ve all had some embarrassing slips on WhatsApp, haven’t we? You write one thing and the autocorrect delivers something completely different. Instead of an elegant body, you quickly become an elephant body. Instead of “howl,” you get “clubs” or something. Sure, internally it can bring a laugh or two, but on a regular basis, and especially with important updates, the boss should not just spout meaningless neologisms. Take a little time and read through your message before sending it to correct spelling mistakes or incomprehensible wording.
Tools for written communication
As also explained in our guide, there are many useful tools to support you in everyday communication. Make sure that communication is limited to a few important tools and does not get lost on numerous platforms. You can follow the following recommendation:
- Questions and shorter conversations should be conducted in chat apps such as Slack
- Formal requests by e-mail (less internal)
- Company-wide updates and organizational matters via a project management tool
Remote work also does not mean to communicate exclusively in writing. Although it is the most efficient form, not all issues can be resolved in writing. Regular face-to-face meetings for more detailed projects and social contact should definitely be integrated. Sometimes it can also be useful to send a quick voice message or to shoot a video update.
Conclusion: Written communication in remote work
Written communication plays an extremely important role in everyday remote work and also says a lot about personal competence. So, choose your words precisely. In this way, you will avoid future employees sitting in front of your message with a big question mark and taking on the role of an ethymologist. And believe me, a few well-chosen words can have a decisive positive influence on work processes. Why do I say this?… Because I am a copywriter.;) In that sense, good luck with your writing! Still have questions? Then don’t hesitate to contact us.
For convenience purposes this post has been translated automatically.