Work from Home is now becoming a new professional norm. After the initial shock of getting adjusted to working under such unprecedented circumstances, professionals are slowly getting accustomed to working with fewer resources and, for many, more distractions. Companies are having to strategise and re-invent not just productions but also internal workflow and allocations. These require precise and effective communications. Internal communications have taken center stage and are now a critical clog in the whole process of delivering a service, getting a task completed, or even ensuring timely production.
Despite having the infrastructure to stay connected 24*7, effective communications (internal and external) is still a daunting challenge during these times. Delegating and supervising work, streamlining thoughts as well as strategising for what comes next- all require effective communications within teams and eventually, with clients or the broader public sphere. As we are charting the unknown territories of change in lifestyles, environments, and an unforeseeable future, we need to remain focused on the present to stay relevant and practical. Below is a “back-to-basics” checklist for professionals to follow daily to communicate effectively:
- “The Daily Huddle”: This is a no brainer. Team leaders should make it a point to have a short daily meeting, which starts with reviewing the previous day’s work and allocating work to the team. It is crucial for team members to feel attached to their daily work and retain their sense of belonging to the organisation. Keep these meetings short, precise, and documented and schedule it for one fixed time each day. Limit these to smaller groups and report the worksheet to your supervisors, if required. It does not mean that it should be all work and no play and do not forget to have those lighter moments too. There has to be an emotional touchpoint yet remain professional. Remember, this is to kick-start your day and give it a direction. Also, keep personal conversations for those Whatsapp groups.
- Precise documentation: This is something communication professionals know only too well but needs constant reminding. Be it recording minutes of meetings (MoMs) or briefing documents for internal teams or clients, spend a little more time on making the content readable and precise. Mind space is less during times of crisis, and hence, it is vital to keep information flow systematic. Not being present in the office and communicating across desks requires that much more effort. Messaging is helpful for ad-hoc information-exchange, but it can get lost amongst the noise. Verbal communication is alright, but writing precise documents is the ONLY way to retain information. It keeps a trail that will become handy when normalcy returns.
- Write those MoMs: Many of us underestimate Minutes of Meetings. Writing them down (not just voice recordings) should be introduced as an exercise for each meeting. It helps in streamlining thoughts and even understanding the issue/topic. It’s perfectly ok to write notes by hand during the call. Once it is complete, spend 10-15 minutes to document it. Here, structured templates come in handy. It helps to keep information systematic and streamlined within an organisation. Remember, conversations are circular by nature, and writing them down makes information linear for the brain to process. Invest in those extra 15 minutes, and you will soon observe how easy it can be to pen information down.
- Stick to deadlines: Why even mention it? It is what you hear from supervisors every day- right? Yes and no. At Home, the work environment is quite different, and timelines often get vague. Working hours have not just become more but also less defined. Hence, it becomes even more important to stick to deadlines. If one timeline breaks, the entire chain of work allocated to the team gets disrupted. No task is less important than the other. Do not postpone tasks to the next day, especially when you feel these are tiny. Complete them and move on and try not to let them pile up. At the end of the day, when you finally start filling those daily worksheets, you will be pleasantly surprised how much more you have accomplished.
- Keep information flow systematic – We all are flooded with information daily, and these days, even more so. The mind has a limited capacity to process so much information. Especially for professionals, it gets that much more to acquire, process, and disseminate data. Case-in-point is researching while making those briefing documents. It is easy to get lost from one report to another (and yet another!) until we end up having a full brain but an empty mind. So, remind yourself each time- what is the exact requirement? What the purpose of the exercise and prioritise information. As they say- Avoid paralysis by over-analysis.
- Prioritise information: Be it team members, team leaders, clients, or media outreach- keep information brief and crisp. Do not flood their inboxes with information that is coming in bits and pieces. If needed, write one email which may be in bullet points too. It is fine to have that ONE communication rather than many bits and pieces. Do not presume others will consume the information the way you do. Organisations are facing a shortage of resources, and the last thing they want is fragmented information appearing in multiple emails.
- Encourage disruption but keep a check: While it is a challenge to remain focused on daily work, such times also provide an opportunity to get creative. For supervisors, it is also important to encourage team members to come up with solutions to make workflows manageable and promote ideas for forward-thinking. Promote further discussions and implement good ideas to keep the team motivated.