As the workplace becomes hybrid where employees work both from home and office, communication has become a key factor to make it all work. Dictionary.com defines communication as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.” It further defines effective as “adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result”. Putting it together, one can define effective communication as “imparting information through various means that is adequate to accomplish a purpose or produce the intended result”.
Poor communication can seriously impact the team’s performance and employee morale. When team members don’t understand the team’s goals and their specific roles, it becomes very difficult for everyone to work together to deliver results. This can lead to misunderstandings, conflict, missed opportunities, poor morale and high turnover.
Studies have shown that ineffective workplace communication can cost companies an average of $420,000 per year.
Poor communication problems are compounded in a hybrid workplace. Some of the common problems in a hybrid workplace include:
According to a study done by The Economist Intelligence Unit, the responses received from executives, managers, and junior staff members alike highlighted several key areas where communication breakdowns in the workplace have major consequences for business as a whole:
Key to make all this work is leadership. Without the right leadership skills team collaboration cannot succeed.
A Gallup research demonstrates the impact of leadership communication on employees at work:
Leaders will have to work extra hard to ensure remote workers don’t feel left out of important conversations or decision-making, which can erode trust. Leaders must know all their team members personally and make sure their contributions are appreciated on a regular basis.
Feelings of exclusion are magnified in a work environment when team members are not physically together. Leaders have to make a sustained effort to create an inclusive environment. Leaders must be self-aware to make sure they treat all team members equally irrespective of their physical location. Diversity should be celebrated and leaders must encourage participation and development at every level of the organization.
In an office environment making small talk and being physically accessible creates opportunities for open communications between team members and leaders. This is harder to do when team members are dispersed. Calendaring virtual watercooler breaks, proactively checking in on team members one-on-one are some ways in which open communications can be fostered in a hybrid environment.
In a recent Deloitte survey of 1,000 white-collar workers, 94% of respondents said they would benefit from one thing: workplace flexibility, in the form of remote work and flexible hours. They cited the top advantages of such flexibility as “less stress/improved mental health” (43%) and “better integration of work and personal life” (38%).
This hybrid work culture needs to fostered by management keeping in mind the following considerations:
Establishing good communication is one of the crucial aspects that determines the success of a small business, especially in today’s competitive market.
In an analysis by Global Workplace Analytics, businesses will have 25%-30% of their employees working from home by the end of 2021. With this, they must find ways on how to improve communication within a team despite the remote setup. Technology plays an important role in small business communications.
Some of the advantages that technology has brought to small businesses and their communication processes include:
We have come a long way from using Windows programs on personal computers to using apps on the cloud (desktop and mobile). Cloud based apps makes it easy to access and share information from anywhere at any time. Likewise internal communications have steadily migrated from slow emails to instant chats.
Messages now come from chats, emails, calls, shared documents and even social media. Each messaging medium has its own app. While certainly messaging has become richer, it has also become overwhelming. All these separate apps create information silos that are painful to bridge mentally.
It is important to select the right technology for team communication so these information silos are eliminated and time wasted in searching and the consequent stress removed.
It is clear that effective communication drives productivity, employee engagement and a faster profitable growth for the company. It is also important that the right technology be adopted for communications that does not create information silos.
While adopting technology goes a long way in promoting effective team communications in small business, it is also important that the technology is complemented by communication best practices. Here are 9 best practices for effective internal communications.
As it is clear by now effective team communications play a big role in the success of any enterprise and especially so for small businesses. In the current era of hybrid work culture, right leadership, best-in-class integrated internal communication tools and proven best practices are a must-have for small businesses to survive and thrive. This trend is accelerating and all small businesses must hop on board asap.