Visual communication, whether face-to- face or digital, offers a more personal, authentic, and engaging experience than other forms of conversation such as phone calls, emails, or letters. We know this because over thousands of years, humans evolved the ability to read and pick up on subtle facial expressions and mannerisms that queue dialogue and prompt consensus; in fact over 93% of human communication is nonverbal.
However, since the birth of the internet in the early 1980s, we’ve become less dependent on one-to-one conversations, and rely more heavily on digital communication. With approximately 3.9 million remote employees in the United States alone, it’s clear the digital workplace is here to stay. Although convenient, this can come with its own set of drawbacks, and as most off-site employees will tell you, communication is the key to a productive and welcoming working environment.
Workplace stress, communication issues, and lack of community are serious concerns, and if allowed they’ll impact work performance, personal attitude, and job loyalty. However, as technology-driven communication continues to evolve, there are a number of new strategies that individuals and employers can introduce to promote a more secure, productive, and inclusive workplace.
Common Errors and Stressors
A Sense of Exclusion
Although experiences can differ greatly, most remote employees enjoy the experience. However, working off-site, poor communication, and minimal interaction can leave individuals feeling excluded. Natural inclusion, including onsite interaction with peers, employers, and clients helps workers feel recognized and fulfilled.
As a remote employee, this type of interaction can be difficult if not impossible to engage in due to geographic location. If left unaddressed, harbored feelings can lead to efficiency, trust, and work performance issues. That’s why it is important that remote employees bring these concerns up with their team, offer solutions, and work to effectively address them.
Unreliable Communication or Technology
As we become increasingly dependent on email, instant messaging, and productivity applications in the workplace, we require more time to address potential issues and unexpected distractions. Poor communication and dialogue strategies when attempting to address concerns can make the process more difficult, especially if you forget to double check grammar, punctuation, and the length of your messages. Whenever possible, discuss concerns with colleagues face-to- face in order to properly communicate and handle the issue in an efficient and timely manner.
Outdated Security Infrastructure and Devices
Did you know that nearly half of all employees say the most time-consuming issues in the workplace are technology-related? To name a few, update notifications, software glitches, and slow devices or software account for nearly 60% of the tech issues faced by employees.
Although often extremely annoying, absent dismissal of an update notification can be risky. Potentially creating vulnerabilities, out of date software and devices can allow cybercriminals to breach previously secure information. Whether intentional or accidentally introduced, spyware, malware, and viruses utilize software vulnerabilities to breach data, files, and servers. Security protocol and routine device maintenance can help identify weaknesses. However, severe breaches can compromise private client and employee personally identifiable information (PII), that’s often used to commit identity theft. Although it’s impossible to entirely stop identity theft, progressive companies are introducing employment benefits that include digital identity monitoring services.
The Technological Alternative
When used correctly, modern digital devices make communicating easier. Instead of hand writing a letter, and waiting weeks for its return, we have the luxury of near instant connectivity and communication across vast distances. This not only made remote work possible, it also introduced the need for an evolving digital infrastructure that was fast, reliable, and safe.
The ability to securely communicate over vast distances in an instant, allows employees to focus on work instead of their commute. However, if you’re new to the remote workforce, it can take some time to feel comfortable and embrace a new sense of community. As a solution to this dilemma, many companies encourage their remote employees to digitally commute as often as possible. Through the use of remote meeting platforms and video conferencing applications, off-site employees can make a visual presence and contribute to dialogue in real-time. In fact, 94% of the individuals that use video conferencing, believe it has a major impact on their efficiency, productivity, and meeting engagement.
To get the most out of the virtual commute, both employers and employees can do their part. Below are a few ways to use video communication tools that allow off-site employees to initiate, participate, and mediate dialog in and out of meetings.
Video Conferencing with Highfive
Every authentic connection between an employer and employee requires communication and trust. However, as a remote employee, that can seem impossible without the ability to participate in face-to- face dialogue or interactions. Thankfully, using Highfive, off-site employees can establish a visual presence in the office, participate in meetings, engage in dialogue, and build trust among their team. Combining cutting edge communication software with HD audio and video equipment, Highfive conferencing makes virtual commute stress-free.
Whether it’s a large presentation or small meeting, video conferencing opens the door for collaboration. Although, as an off-site employee finding the ability to speak and be heard in a room full of others can be difficult. Thankfully, video does a great job at relaying body language and physical tone, making it easier to participate and freely exchange ideas. In an attempt to promote digital commuting, some companies designate “always-on portals”, where on-site employees can interact with remote team members in live time. As this technology continues to evolve, physical office spaces are being converted into off-site work stations that remote employees can use to establish an in-office presence.
Communication is Key
The ability to communicate, problem solve, and reach a consensus is essential in team environments. Although tech stress can sometimes get the best of us, it’s important to remember you have the internet at your fingertips. To get you started, here are some of our favorite articles with information on promoting a collaborative team environment, the benefits of a remote-office presence, and effective meeting strategies.