For the last two years, there has been a seismic shift in the way we work. More of us than ever are working remotely or, after reassessing our priorities, have changed jobs or even begun working freelance.
That’s because the pandemic has given us the chance to rethink our priorities and make the changes we’ve needed to make for a long time – such as prioritising our free time, family and health. But that doesn’t mean it has been easy.
Finding the physical and mental space to work from home is difficult, with family and work life to juggle, but for many of us, our productivity has actually increased since working remotely. I personally find the office environment very distracting and the regular interruptions from colleagues take up time and reduce my ability to work quickly and effectively.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the same for everyone – many of us enjoy the camaraderie of the workplace, the human contact this brings, and the bustling, motivational feeling of being in the midst of projects and campaigns. If nothing else, the pandemic has shown us the value of spending time with other people.
In fact, working remotely can feel rather isolating for some. A January 2022 survey of health and social care workers showed that nearly 40% don’t feel as valued as their desk-based colleagues and 52% were considering leaving or had already left their jobs.
Why? A lot of it is to do with communication. When asked ‘what’s the one thing in your day-to-day working life that you wish you could change?’ many of the responses from the employees surveyed focused on the lack of communication:
- Be more appreciated
- Management should listen more
- Better communication
- Be listened to
- Be thanked for what I do
- A little more communication and to receive a reply more quickly
It just goes to show that, whether you’re freelance, working remotely or occasionally working in the office, better communication, feeling like part of a community, and having regular interaction with colleagues can improve the working environment for everyone.
Even as a freelancer who is almost always working from home, I enjoy getting regular updates from my clients and colleagues as it makes me feel part of the team, despite our distance. Anyone who’s working in construction, hospitality, transit, retail or healthcare may be regularly working remotely so it’s time to bring back a personal touch.
So, how do you achieve this as a manager or as a freelancer?
Although we can all send messages via email, it’s certainly not the solution for teams who need to communicate regularly and work together. Telephoning colleagues regularly will be as distracting as office-based interruptions. The solution is to choose an intranet-style communication app that can support casual chats alongside important updates.
For example, a digital communication tool like Blink combines messaging with a hub for all documents, updates, schedules, and digital tools. This ensures that remote workers can get that feeling of personal contact through group and individual chats and get prompt responses from leaders via messaging.
According to Out of Office by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Peterson, the best setup isn’t necessarily the one that maximises productivity or efficiency: it’s the one where staff truly feel heard and understood. So, as a remote worker, why not ask your manager whether the organization provides an intranet app to allow you to communicate with your colleagues easily?
Likewise, if you’re a freelancer, join the communication channels of the organisations you’re working with and ask to be included in group feeds and project updates so that you can feel a part of the team, even at a distance. You could:
- Find your virtual colleagues on social media and personally interact with their posts.
- Reach out with an informal message to begin a friendship with someone you work remotely with.
- Gather freelancers together (even those who don’t work together or are from different industries) and create a chat group to help you feel connected to others while you all work independently.
- Join an existing forum for self-employed people to share business tips and make connections.
Having the ability to communicate with your virtual colleagues doesn’t mean spending all your time on a group forum or chatting via instant messages, but it allows you to reach out with project-related questions when needed and gives you the chance to develop relationships with the people you work with day-in-day-out.
Ultimately, it’s this feeling of inclusion that will help you to enjoy your work more. You’ll be more motivated to crack on with tasks when you’re working from home and you’ll feel much more committed to the project and that your contribution is worthwhile.
And that’s what makes for a happy working life.
Let me know how you communicate with your employees, colleagues and freelance staff in the comments below. I’d love to hear how you keep in touch while working remotely and it would be great to get your tips on how to stay productive while working from home. 🙂
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This article is sponsored collaboration. The pink links in the content indicate a sponsored link or information source. The blog post reflects my own experience and the sponsor hasn’t had any control over my content 🙂