THURSDAY 8 AUG 2019 2:19 PM

OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS WITH A REMOTE WORKFORCE

The challenges of communicating with remote workforces have often been deemed too difficult to overcome, leading organisations to focus on inappropriate solutions. To help overcome this, communication consultancy Redefining Communications has conducted a survey across seven major organisations, in a collaboration with software company SocialOptic.

The consultancy’s research has unveiled four key themes in internal communications. What has surfaced is that there are substantial differences in the way solo workers and team workers perceive internal communications; a bus or taxi driver and someone working in hospitality have different approaches to workplace comms.

There has been a fall in TV or screens as preferred sources of information. Most remote workers find them as invasive, forced into 'third spaces’ (such as mess rooms or canteens) where employees spend their lunchtime or breaks. According to sociologist Ray Oldenburg, who coined the expression, a ‘third space’ is a place coworkers use to socialise and disconnect from work-related topics for a while. Although employers adopt TV screens in these spaces to share the latest news, this often results in the employees switching off the screen, seen as an invasion of a sacred area. The consultancy suggests it is worth investing in noticeboards and other less intrusive channels, such as magazines delivered to a worker’s door, instead.

Companies should aim for quality over quantity of information. Customisation of news feeds and social media is the norm outside of work, but companies don’t usually allow this with internal comms. The research shows that they should focus on relevance, not quantity, allowing employees to focus on what’s most important to their work.

The role of managers was also examined; 36% of remote workers believe their line manager is the most accurate and reliable source for information. To equip leaders with the appropriate tools to deliver relevant internal comms might be the solution to cut through the noise. At the same time, the skills of the manager outweighed the content; if a manager is a poor communicator, he won’t be able to engage the workers regardless of how relevant the piece of information is.

Although most companies worry about overload in internal comms, the survey has found out that only 3% of workers believe they have too much information about their company, department or industry. Out of the over 300 employees surveyed, only 63% believe to have all they need to carry out a job well, and 27% would like to know more about the organisation they’re working for. The consultancy’s report is a useful tool to start refactoring internal comms with focus on relevance and people, rather than content, moving relevance and engagement at the heart of communications strategies.

Synergy Creative and Communicate magazine explored engagement in internal comms with an expert panel at the end of July. Watch the webinar here.

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