Communication tools have become the most important and widely used tools during this ‘Work From Home’ era. As workers, we have been given so many options to choose from; Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Slack, WhatsApp and internal messaging systems. It seems like during our pandemic companies were sometimes excessively communicating because of the sheer number of applications or tools open during the work day. From professional messages built into project management tools, emails, phone calls, personal messages to remind us of our daily commitments. Many of us have been overwhelmed at the number of different communication channels to choose from but the irony is that we can also lose sight of getting back to people on time. I think this is especially more challenging for parents who are working from home.
What is the right way to communicate while working from home? At 6IXSENSES we believe that simplification of processes can achieve greater efficiency. Here are some common tips and tricks for maintaining your work day:
Reduce open tabs. Close as many unnecessary browsers and open tabs as possible. Shut down the applications that you no longer need during the day. If WhatsApp is your usual go-to for personal messages try and minimize distraction by closing it for the work day and choose only two times where you reopen it. A general rule of thumb is to look at emails or personal messages only twice during the workday – the morning and again in the evening. This way you can focus on the bulk of your work during the day and will only be sending follow-up messages or emails that are project or work related. By prioritizing and aligning your deliverables with communications it will eliminate the time spent on overextending yourself leading to burn out.
Keep internal communications and messages organized. If your team is using an internal communications tool such as Slack for daily touch-points keep your projects organized. Make sure every channel is clearly labeled. Ideally, approval processes can be removed from the equation. Creating a channel for reviewing information is needed but try to have more work-flow efficiency by communicating final approvals and materials in a project management tool. By delineating or separating these two distinctly different objectives you can create clearer lines of engagement. It will be easier to review, edit or provide updates on projects when they are housed in a project management system. The internal communications, on the other hand, should be used for questions, queries, updates, meeting notes, personal chats and direct messages.
Select your preferred video/virtual conferencing tool. Try to simplify the process by choosing a preferred virtual conferencing tool. Since the pandemic many companies have bought subscriptions to tools that can facilitate better meeting arrangements for their employees. However one of the biggest challenges has been figuring out which one to use. Many times we work with external clients who are using different technological solutions from ourselves which requires adaptation and time to download, set-up, launch and familiarize ourselves. One way to simplify the process is to stick to one tool for the majority of your meetings so employees become so well-versed with using it they will eventually become experts. Remember, practice makes perfect.
Have backup communication channel always
Prime Time. We have teams working from around the world in different time zones and find a time that suits us both to communicate during the work day. At times, team members will make themselves available later in the evening or at night to be able to get projects completed and reviewed on time. This solution has helped us facilitate better communication and collaboration amongst employees in different countries.
Project Management tool and the To Do List (virtual and shareable)
With a strong eCommerce operations focus, we have hundreds of tasks and subtasks taking place or coming in our way every day. Keeping them organized and getting them done within a reasonable time is paramount and increases client satisfaction. Here are some reasons why we rely on PM tools and task lists:
Small micro tasks could go unnoticed and missed
Not working in an office environment could further disrupt the goal achievement and delivery
Managers have a hard time to keep track and ensure the deadlines are met without updating the tool
We used Asana, but it ended up being very expensive and recently moved to Nifty. It is a great tool and inexpensive since you’re not charged on a per-license basis. Sometimes you don’t need a comprehensive and complex project management tool for your team. As these PM tools could take up a lot of your working time to manage them, having a simple solution often works best. They are great for agile teams. For a non-technical administrative, sales and accounting type of work if a digital PM tool is too much, we recommend Microsoft To-Do or Notion.so to keep your tasks organized, not missed, and add reminders.
With the pandemic we have determined that many people have suffered from both gains and losses. While some businesses thrived during COVID, others suffered, especially small to medium sized ones. With employees working remotely, juggling multiple responsibilities, tending to both childcare and professional duties simultaneously, there is a need to close the gap and find solutions that work for all ranges of technical skills. We should also be aware that the pandemic served as a time for people to feel fatigued from all the new technology. At 6IXSENSES we advocate empathetic leadership and addressing your employee needs. This means that whether it is spreadsheets or applications, both should be accepted into the daily workflow.