Distance communication - how to get it right

Published April 23, 2021, 12:30 p.m. by Huaiyang Chen

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The coronavirus spreads like wildfire. While everyone is overwhelmed by the coronavirus news or rumours, companies are facing more critical situations. In order to avoid significant health risks and maintain the business at the same time, many companies have already asked their employees to work from home.

In times of crisis like this, many people are asking: How can I work from home but still communicate effectively?

It is difficult to communicate clearly and efficiently in distance if you don’t have a plan. Before you start your day at your home office, or your couch, look through this checklist and prepare yourself mentally for another day of effective communication.

1. Environment – What do you need for communication remotely?
A laptop, a well-connected WIFI and VPN are probably essential for your communication in distance. Without the IT support around the corner, it is important to foresee and prepare for technical issues before starting your work. Also, keep in mind that your coworkers will see the background during video meetings, so find a comfy but appropriate spot!

2. Goal – Why do you need to communicate?
The cost of communication is much higher when you work from home. Before you send the email, call or start a Skype meeting, take a moment to think about the goal of your communication and your expected result after the conversation. Make some bullet points, or draft a mind map to keep your communication clear and efficient, which can also help you define who, what and how you want to communicate.

3. Audience – Who are you speaking to?
Knowing who is the audience defines whether it is internal or external communication. As “good communication” should be consistent and transparent nowadays, some people might argue that the line between internal and external communication is disappearing. However, it is still crucial to tailor your communication to your audience, such as tones, timing, and preferred medium, especially during a crisis.

4. Medium – What is the best communication channel?
As the coronavirus crisis hit our society swiftly, many companies have to roll out a new communication platform at short notice. But a new tool is not always the right tool. The best communication channel should be decided based on the goal and audience of your communication.

5. Follow up – What are the next steps?
One thing about virtual meetings is that we sometimes discuss a lot and forget about taking actions. Collect all the great ideas during the meeting, but also remember to assign tasks and plan for the next steps at the end. People tend to feel less motivated when working in distance, so maybe it is a good idea to remind yourself to follow up and engage with your coworkers and clients more actively.

Coronavirus crisis requires each individual to take responsibilities for the whole society, so let’s practice social distancing while having effective communication at home!