5 Ways To Boost Internal Comms For Remote And Widespread Teams
Guest post written by Lisa Ardill, Content Marketer at our good friends Workvivo.
11th Oct 2022
Like all areas of the employee experience, workers’ expectations for internal communications are higher than ever before. But delivering a fantastic comms experience can be tricky, particularly when your teams are remote, hybrid, or spread across different time zones.To help, here are five areas every employer should focus on to communicate effectively with all of their employees, no matter where they are or how they work.
Why invest in internal communications?
Investing in internal communications is a win-win. The more effort you put into keeping your people informed, connected, and engaged, the better your culture will be, paving the way for a healthy work environment.
In a healthy work environment, employees feel safe in the knowledge that they can bring their whole selves to work, speak up and have their voices heard, and make an impact. All of this helps them be productive, stay motivated, and do their best work.And it all comes back to communication. Isolated employees become disconnected and can’t align with company values, losing sight of their overarching goals. Top-down, hierarchical comms prevent crucial two-way conversations.
5 tips to improve internal comms across your business
1. Embrace open comms
One of the best things you can do to improve your company’s comms is to make it more open. Traditionally, companies have approached internal corporate communication from a top-down perspective; leaders decide what information reaches which teams and as it slowly percolates the organisation, messages become confused, misinformation spreads, and people feel left out.
Open communication turns this on its head, making knowledge sharing more efficient and more accessible. Every person in the company is invited to use their voice, whether it be to congratulate their colleagues on a fantastic job, share some news about an important milestone, or give key feedback to senior management.Embracing open comms can be as simple as starting a forum where people can share their thoughts on a range of topics – from how certain business processes are working to pictures of their pets – or a little more sophisticated, like rolling out an employee engagement platform.
2. Go async
Asynchronous communication should be a priority for any business, but it’s really a non-negotiable for companies with remote employees or teams spread across different locations.
Going async isn’t just a more efficient, streamlined way of working, it also helps your staff strike a healthy work-life balance. Future-of-work expert Jared Lindzon wrote on Workvivo’s blog previously, “The friction and frustration many are experiencing today is often a result of applying the expectations of an in-person working environment into our more decentralised reality.”
What does asynchronous communication look like? Again, it can be as simple or sophisticated as you like. Creating a Google Doc with key information for all staff that they can access at any time can make a world of difference, while internal podcasts can disseminate news in a way that’s inclusive and accessible for every worker.Exploring new ways of communicating is a great way to level up your async game, whether it’s pre-recording video announcements or setting up a new podcast for your people to enjoy.
3. Analyze, evaluate and improve
Now that we’ve established what open comms look like, it’s time to talk about navigating one of the best opportunities it brings: asking your people for feedback and listening to what they have to say.
Employee pulse surveys are a great way to gather quick and targeted feedback from employees and see who’s feeling engaged and who’s not.
Perhaps you want to understand how the internal communications plan has impacted remote workers. Or maybe you want feedback on the new employee recognition scheme.
Many companies are also using surveys to supplement annual employee surveys and track progress. Whatever the case may be, employee pulse surveys will get you the answers you need and are great for improving employee communication.
What should a survey look like? Keep it short. By definition, surveys are short and snappy. Try to keep your survey to just three to six pulse survey questions. That way, you’ll avoid survey fatigue and are more likely to get a good response rate. Plus, a short pulse survey makes it easier for you to analyze the results.
Make it relevant. Keep the end goal firmly in view and ensure every question is relevant. Don’t be tempted to include those ‘nice to know’ items. Instead, your pulse survey questions should address a specific need within your company culture.
Focus on action. Ensure you can act on the survey’s results. Staff will quickly become reluctant to complete pulse surveys if they don’t see positive action in response. Head off frustration and mistrust by visibly acting on the survey results.
Be fast and frequent. Surveys are designed to be conducted quickly and regularly. The aim is to get a snapshot of employees’ views or a quick check-in on progress.And when it comes to the right mix of questions, we recommend the 70:20:10 rule: 70% driver, action-focused questions; 20% outcome, measurement-focused questions; and 10% open-text, qualitative questions.
4. Find the right tools
Technology is a crucial element in any good communication strategy, especially for remote and widespread teams.
Old-style intranets are increasingly outdated in this new world of work. Prioritising the new style of employee communication tool (instead of simply reworking your intranet) looks set to pay off for companies in more ways than one. Reports suggest that while traditional intranet solutions are unable to facilitate engagement and communication, integrated employee apps are perfectly placed to offer this functionality.
This increased reliance on digital platforms and apps means the ones you engage with should be:
- User friendly
Some tools focus solely on internal communications, while others provide added dimensions. There are apps that have a collaborative edge, helping teams communicate throughout the day and work together on various projects. Others act more like a planning tool, aiding communication focused on specific tasks and presenting it in an accessible, visual way.
Using just one tool for the bulk of your internal communications helps limit opportunities for missed messages or confusion and provides a helpful paper trail when following up with ongoing conversations.
It’s also more personable and approachable – fundamental principles to keep in mind when creating your employee communications strategy.
However, even dedicated employee communication tools can be limited. They often lack important functionality, and could even hinder key markers of company success such as engagement, employee retention, and profitability.
That’s why choosing your comms tool of choice should be an informed decision that takes the needs and wants of your employees seriously.And when you’ve decided on that tool, make sure to invest in awareness and training for your employees so that they can actually use it.
5. Make human connection your north star
What you’ve probably gathered from these tips is that to make internal comms work for remote or disparate teams, technology is key. But there’s one crucial element that no amount of tech will make up for, human connection.
Particularly for businesses with remote and hybrid workers and teams that are spread out geographically, building and maintaining the human aspect of company culture can be challenging.
Again, how you approach internal comms can make all the difference here. Let’s look at an example: imagine your company HQ is in London and you have employees based in New York City, Tokyo, and Sydney. In a traditional, top-down comms structure, these employees probably get most of their company news from a monthly newsletter. But is sitting alone in your home office, scrolling through an email really the same as hearing updates from your colleagues and getting to talk about them in a two-way, asynchronous conversation?
The short answer? No. Here’s the long answer: newsletters are still a useful way of communicating with your employees, but it shouldn’t be where the communication ends. What makes for a more human workplace, whether your people are sitting beside each other or logging on six hours apart, is a focus on connection and conversation.
Isolation is one of the biggest contributors to the Great Resignation, with 60% of employees citing emotional disconnect from colleagues and culture as their biggest frustration at work.Human connection doesn’t have to be in person; by embracing technology and building empathy and compassion into your core communication values, you’re setting yourself up for a more human and better-connected company culture.