20 March 2020

by Jake Daniels, Communications Officer, Coast to Capital

Create a dedicated group chat

 

When your team members aren’t all together under one roof, it’s important to have a single place where everyone can go to get information. Group messenger channels are crucial for getting updates to your team.

 

Share updates with your team via messengers such as Whatsapp

 

These are a great alternative to email and can be used to:

 

  • Check in with team members
  • Share quick updates

 

Can you call instead of sending an email?

 

Emails can quickly become overwhelming, especially when working remotely. Before sending an email ask yourself “Can I resolve this more effectively by phone?”

 

Calls help you check in and keep projects moving

 

This only works if everyone is readily available – so do keep your phone charged, on and nearby!

 

Working remotely can be isolating, make sure you’re speaking to your team by phone regularly and have at least one “check-in” conversation every day.

 

Video calls can create a more personal atmosphere, make the most of FaceTime and Whatsapp for 1-2-1s.

 

Keep your diary up to date

 

Make sure your Outlook calendar accurately shows your daily routine and any meetings you have. Consider adding a “Lunch” slot to your diary so that the team can see when you are taking a break.

 

Working together – learning how you work best and respecting others

 

Much like being in the office, team members will have different styles and preferences of working from home. Get to know what the routines in your team are and create boundaries that will help you work efficiently together. Here are some points to consider:

 

  • When do your team members start and finish work?
  • What time do your team members have breaks including lunch?
  • Some members of your team will need regular communication, whilst others will be happy to go for longer periods (4 to 5 hours maximum) without checking in

 

Here are some other tips for group chats:

 

Assume positive intent 

 

Chat lacks a lot of context and situational cues we rely on to determine intent. Always assume that that messages are sent with the best of intentions, and if you’re not sure – just pick up the phone and ask!

 

Give context 

 

Your team haven’t been talking to you about the idea that’s been bouncing around in your head, or seen the people you’re talking to about it. Give them more info.

 

Don’t let crickets chirp 

 

Silence is the worst thing to experience when you’re trying to connect with your team. Thinking, “I sent a message three hours ago and no one’s responded to it. Was it just too stupid to respond to?” isn’t a good feeling for anyone!

 

Have fun!

 

Try to engage in small talk.Ask people how they're doing. Give updates on topics you've previously talked about. These are all things you'd get more of a sense of if you were in the same office.

 

Here are some tips for video calls:

 

Use the right software for the right meeting

 

If you’re planning an informal 1-2-1, or even a meeting with up to 3 people, consider using mobile video chat services like FaceTime or WhatsApp video call.

 

For bigger internal team meetings, use Zoom with guidance from your Communications Champion.

 

For external meetings, check with your Line Manager that a video call would be appropriate.  Remember some meetings have specific governance requirements (Committee meetings, Board etc.). Remember you can also use regular conference call number, if a video call is not suitable.

 

Embrace the lag

 

Video has an occasional delay from speaking to its actual transmission, and we can’t get around that. Be proactive about it. Try harder to avoid interrupting people. If you and someone else start talking at the same time, defer to letting them speak first.

 

Make visible gestures

 

Faces are smaller on computer screens than in person. A small nod in person needs to be translated to a bigger movement when you’re on video. Hold a smile for longer to make sure it’s seen. Give thumbs up gestures to the camera if you’re in strong agreement with something. Unmute yourself when you want to talk so other people see the muted icon go away.

 

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