If you aim to build a communication culture with a strong comms strategy within your team or organization, you have a demanding job that bears a lot of responsibility. For organizations that are online based, more challenges appear, so I will point out several factors that you will want to consider for having effective communication practices.
Agile for starters
Remote work, especially in the IT industry, has its fluctuations, with a combination of chaotic and calm moments. This arises from different needs and pace of work. To address this, an Agile approach works well in most cases. With an Agile approach to building a communication strategy, you promote transparency, collaboration, interactions and adaptation to change. This is the way, trust me.
Let’s say that you like to experiment and learn from your mistakes as you are able to picture everyones’ collaboration in your head and you go with Agile for all of the above mentioned. The tricky part comes in here. Experimenting is cool, but first you will need a solid foundation to support your ideas.
How to target your communication?
Understanding who your audience is, is a critical step towards identifying ways to improve your endeavor and identifying potential gaps. Firstly, you should start thinking about your target audience and defining its characteristics. This is because it can be difficult to figure out how to approach your audience without a complete understanding of who they are. Once you complete this task, it should be easier to determine the channels, language, frequency and forms of engagement you should use.
Another factor to consider when planning a comms strategy, is choosing the tools you will use. Preferably, ones that will allow you to put together and systematize different tasks, on which you want to act as part of communication and will support the given goals. An important factor, many usually forget, is the fact that the tools you choose should be tailored to your needs and expectations, not the other way around. You do not pick the cheapest, most popular or one recommended solely by one of your colleagues. You will need to identify your needs and do your homework, I mean research. At the end of this process, you can pick one that will be the closest match to all of your requirements.
You may also want to keep in mind some auxiliary factors, like compatibility with other systems/ apps you use, data security and plugins you may need. Sticking to the tools you go with. It’s wise to check the entry level and its complexity, as trivial things can threaten the success of your endeavor.
For instance using multiple tools can be an additional threshold of adaptation to new tools and habits. You may fall into a trap of multiple distribution channels, which not only is confusing but your colleagues may not receive all messages meant for them, as they would spread in multiple places. Complexity in general increases the level of frustration when learning new things. Complexities “friends” - reluctance and irritation are enemies of smooth processes. If you still find yourself picking and implementing some new complex comms tools or this is the only option, do not forget about proper change management and training for all stakeholders!
Another important thing will be to identify and spread a single source of truth, accessible to everyone in your organization. This is important as it can be referred to in case of any doubts. Examples of this include: all process documentation, rules, regulations, values, etc. can be collected on platforms such as Confluence, Notion, Google drive, Evernote, Klutch or in many others. Remember to pick one and make sure everyone understands how to use and navigate it.
Anything specific for remote work comms?
If remote work is a hard fact for you, it’s worth appointing people who care for employees, monitor their well-being, motivation or potential threats. It’s also worth planning an employee support strategy together with your HR department, Team Leaders, or other types of supporters or superiors.
What’s more, you may also think about systematizing areas such as:
- Tools used on a daily basis: communicators, meeting platforms, tasks tracking, creating diagrams, graphics, processes, etc.
- Office hours: are there any specific hours in which employees should be available, can they freely manage their day, or maybe the company wants employees to be available during core hours, and the rest of the time depends on their preferences. It doesn’t matter what option you choose, make sure people know it.
- Employees approach to meetings: does the company have any internal rules, good practices, e.g. an employee should have their camera turned on, clothes appropriate to the occasion, a clean and tidy background as well as a stable internet connection.
- Whether employees should and / or how to report their working time as well as progress in assigned tasks.
- Knowledge of roles & responsibilities: Both current and new employees should know what the responsibilities of individual people are to make it easier to solve problems and ask for help.
Do not forget...
Last but not least, take into consideration that no strategy or plan is set in stone. Communication is a dynamic field, so it’s always worth providing employees with periodic training aimed at increasing or maintaining the level of communication. It would be risky to say that once presented expectations are acquired, that competences will remain at a high level all the time. The same goes for the fact employees' level of motivation and engagement does not always the desired path.
Keep in mind that communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals. So follow that process, make your comms strategy vital and get feedback, provide your point of view, talk to one another, communicate and all should fall into place.