Imagine an office without distractions, without the meetings-about-meetings loop, and where creativity to stretch its legs. The collective workforce surely would be more productive at home, where distractions were minimal.
That might have been the impetus for an extensive study conducted by Microsoft recently. Examining over 60,000 of their employees during a six-month period from December 2019 to June 2020, the study reveals that collaboration took a significant hit, as did communication.
The result: long-term innovation and creativity were adversely impacted. The data suggests that remote work caused a siloed effect when it came to collaboration, and employees that were once easily connected were quickly feeling isolated.
Any organization that had to implement remote work on the fly – which was a large majority of organizations – discovered the disconnect the hard way. The lack of preparedness had far too many companies scrambling to equip employees for home office work, and many were dealing with a companywide communication disconnect for the first time, even if some of their employees worked remotely in the past.
Without a strong communication process, many organizations were piecing one together while trying to conduct business. If companies don’t address the changes brought on by remote work, that could be a problem going forward, especially since 84% of companies surveyed in 2020 anticipate broader, more permanent remote work arrangements.
Fortunately, establishing an effective communication plan is not difficult. It takes reimagining how your employees are working, and what they need from your management team in order to be their most productive.
At WAHVE, we’ve put a feedback and communication process in place that keeps employees connected to managers, different departments, and each other. Each step is essential to making employees feel like an integral, necessary part of the organization.
It starts with manager-to-employee conversations. Managers talk with employees every day, even if it’s to say hello. Employees and managers meet regularly to go over assignments, benchmarks, progress, and to let the employee air any concerns. This time is also used to set goals, identify issues and assign a mentor or additional training to help the employee improve, if need be.
We also encourage our employees to talk to us about personal matters – family, financial issues, and anything else that is on their minds. Especially in a remote setting, personal issues do infiltrate a worker’s day. Allowing them the space to talk can help them feel less isolated.
We also encourage employees to report problems, talk about concerns, or touch base to make sure they understand the expectations. Employees are encouraged to make suggestions for improvements, even if it isn’t in their own department. All aspects are the responsibility of everyone in the organization.
Weekly Team Meetings
Our weekly team meetings are different. We require everyone’s video to be turned on (to further connect employees to each other), and we make sure the meetings are short and have a set agenda. There is also a feedback process time set aside at the end of each meeting so that employees can bring up suggestions or complaints.
When we receive a complaint or suggestion, it doesn’t stop there. We assign a person to investigate and take ownership of the issue. That person will report back at the weekly team meeting so that everyone is kept in the loop on progress or roadblocks. This allows for group brainstorming and sharing of ideas.
The disruption of heading home to work needn’t be a creativity killer. By changing how you interact with your employees – and how often – your organization can actually improve your companywide communications. That in turn can help teams feel more connected and employees feeling more engaged. With strong communication and support, just watch their creativity soar.