COVID-19 has reshaped the business environment in untold ways, but one of the biggest effects has been the shift to remote work. Due to fears of infection and local movement restrictions, a huge number of organizations were forced to support remote working on a total or partial basis. Around 16 million knowledge workers in the US, or 25%, began working remotely within a few weeks of the virus hitting America’s shores.
Nobody expects that working conditions will just snap “back to normal” when vaccine roll out is completed and infection risks subside. Most employees are enjoying the remote work experience, and about 60% say they want to continue working remotely even after the pandemic.
However, working from home isn’t a bed of roses. Alongside challenges like coping with distractions and finding a suitable working space, employees and managers alike are struggling to collaborate successfully without regular face-to-face interactions. The biggest challenge for people working from home is collaboration and communication, heading the list jointly with coping with loneliness.
Fortunately, new technology can help businesses overcome these obstacles and support smooth collaboration even for remote teams and distant employees. There are many options, but online notes are gaining new popularity among the throng.
Here are 4 ways to use online notes to power improved internal communication for your employees, no matter where they’re located.
1. Keep everything in one place
One of the biggest causes of frustration for knowledge workers is the amount of time they have to waste searching for resources and messages scattered across multiple platforms. If you’re using a number of different communication tools, like email, texts, Slack messages, etc. it’s easy to lose track of the thread of the conversation.
Online notes help keep everything in a single, central location for more streamlined project collaboration. Choose a platform that enables real time chat as well as project management, so that everyone can share their ideas and reactions alongside the suggestions and resources themselves.
Use tools that allow you to attach files, images, and videos, so that no one has to leave the platform to find resources they need for the project. It interrupts the flow of concentration to have to log off one tool and into another one for a vital file, then log out and back in again to continue your work.
2. Bring everyone on board
It’s not enough to bring all your resources and interactions into a single location. You also need to ensure that every employee can access them too. Many popular collaboration platforms require you to buy a license for each user, but if you’re working with external parties, consultants, or freelancers, you might not want to invest in extra subscriptions.
Corporate use of gig workers has been rising steadily for years, and the turbulent COVID-19 era has only pushed it higher as businesses were forced to lay off permanent hires and are still reluctant to invest in long-term staff.
It’s best to look for tools which allow you to share workflows and conversation spaces securely with anyone you like, even if they aren’t paid users. This way, you can include everybody in the same discussions and share resources with all participants in one go, without having to update 5 different platforms.
3. Support asynchronous communication
Real time chat is valuable for encouraging employee bonding, but sometimes it receives too much emphasis. It’s easy to think that real-time in-person conversation should be replaced with real-time online conversation, but you’ll see better results if you think outside the box a little.
When employees are working remotely, or you have part of your team in the office and part working from home, asynchronous communication can be the way to go. Asynchronous communication allows people to join the discussion and share their ideas and responses whenever it’s convenient, instead of forcing everyone online at the same time.
It’s clearly vital if your teams cross time zones, but real-time synchronized communication isn’t always practical even when everyone lives and works nearby. Employees have always appreciated flexible working times, but during the pandemic, with children home from school and employees often caring for sick relatives, flexi-hours have become crucial for employee engagement and satisfaction.
Allowing team members to dip in and out of conversations can help reduce frustration, improve positive feelings within the team, and ease communications, especially when you make it clear that you don’t demand immediate responses.
4. Keep an eye on engagement metrics
Recent research found that even among internal communications managers, around 20% never check engagement data, and another 58% only look at it sporadically. But when you keep track of engagement metrics, you can see if and how your employees are using and benefiting from your chosen tool.
Look to see whether people respond to questions on the platform or if major discussions are taking place off-platform. Have your employees congregated on a different channel, like an unofficial WhatsApp group, for example? Or are they using your tool to share resources but a different channel for brainstorming?
Every team is different, so even the most popular and widely-used collaboration platform might not be the best match for your teams’ needs. If engagement data is poor, that could mean that you need to try a different platform, but it could also point to simple uncertainty about how to use the tool. Your employees may just need a session or two of training to help them understand all the features and feel comfortable using them.
Remote collaboration can be a success
Effective internal collaboration can be a challenge at the best of times, and these are far from the best of times. Organizations can use online notes to support partial or total remote working by bringing everyone and everything to a single location, enabling asynchronous communication, and tracking metrics that reveal employee adoption, in order to remove obstacles to smooth, streamlined business collaboration and drive business growth.
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