Carlos Sanchez Magdalena
In this Covid-19 era, we have had to revolutionize our way of communicating. We are used to face to face contact and maintaining close relationships - seeing each other, having physical contact (in the good sense of the word - hugs, handshakes, etc.) and therefore being able to interpret the reactions of people around us.
Having a coffee, enjoying a moment of relaxation with a pleasant chat or simply letting off steam with a workmate has now become a fairly complicated task. We are in a new normal in which we spend more time working from home and, when we do go out, we have to wear masks and be responsible, which makes communication with others very difficult. We're sure that many of you are missing those moments of companionship and camaraderie.
Communication methods have changed dramatically in recent months. These days, most meetings are carried out via videoconferencing systems, creating a certain amount of distance between team members. This has led to a new paradigm which affects us in many ways when it comes to interacting with each other. Many people do not turn on their computer camera, there are connection problems, Wi-Fi, children, my husband, my wife, distractions...the list is endless. It can feel overwhelming and makes it difficult to maintain good, healthy communication.
Lack of experience with regard to communicating in situations like the one we are currently experiencing can result in bad practices when facing an online meeting or trying to maintain the same level of closeness that we previously had in our day to day, face to face interactions.
In this article, we will give some suggestions for good practices so that you can manage your online meetings more efficiently, in addition to being able to partially recover those things that you might miss when communicating with coworkers.
Try to have a moderator. Online meetings are usually a bit more complicated and when two people speak at the same time, it's difficult to understand what they are saying. This can be solved by having a moderator that facilitates and guides any type of online meeting. Team members could even take it in turns to assume this role, so that everyone gains experience doing it.
Make sure you choose a good video conferencing tool, as there are many possibilities:
It should be considered sufficiently secure to protect confidentiality and privacy
It’s preferable if it’s free, but pay attention to its limitations
Ensure a good connection to give you the fewest possible problems
It should allow screen-sharing with your colleagues
IF you are going to record the meeting, always ask the attendees for their consent.
Be punctual. Now that we are remote working, it is often difficult waiting for other colleagues. Will they be able to connect? Will they have any problems at home to deal with? It is also a matter of respect for others. It is good practice to connect 3 or 4 minutes in advance to check that everything is working so as not to waste time in the meeting itself.
Maintaining daily contact helps us not to drift apart from our colleagues. This can be in the form of short meetings, using agile methodologies like Scrum. There should be a daily 15 minute meeting where team members update each other on what they are doing. This contributes to maintaining constant contact and helps the team stay up to date on their tasks.
One idea that works very well is scheduling a virtual 15-20 minute coffee break with the team every week, in which team members talk about more personal matters such as hobbies, interests, etc. This allows us to get to know our colleagues better and to build closer relationships, even if it's via videoconferencing.
Another recommendation that usually works very well is to use between 30 minutes and 1 hour every month to do a retrospective. This means that once a month, the team reflects together on what has happened during that month and discusses what could be improved within the team. These meetings usually bring together opposing views, help to build trust among team members and highlight monthly improvements.
We hope that these recommendations help you to improve communication with your coworkers in this remote working environment. They could even give you some ideas on how to organize your own meetings to achieve and maintain that feeling of closeness with them.