Top 4 ways to utilise communication skills to thrive in a digital work environment

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Embracing the future of work takes more than using online tools, it requires an intentional shift of communication. In this feature, BBC Maestro’s Richard Greene talks us through four means by which working relationships can be built up in a workplace that has undergone drastic evolution in recent years. Read on to find out more…

The digital revolution, hastened by a pandemic, has changed the way we interact with each other and ushered in a new era of work, with remote and hybrid environments becoming the norm. What has not changed, and will never change, is our core, primal need for community.

We are inherently “social beings”. We thrive emotionally, intellectually, physically and, indeed, spiritually, when we are together and often suffer burnout, loneliness and even worse when deprived of a certain quantum of human contact.

Every day we head further down the path of an isolated work reality, this void increases … as does the need to enhance human interpersonal communication through intentional and often new techniques.

This shift has presented professionals with a wealth of opportunities, including increased flexibility, access to a wider talent pool, and the potential for an improved work-life balance.

These are helpful on a human level but as the traditional office setting gives way to laptops and virtual meeting spaces, it is crucial for leaders to adapt their styles of communication and find ways to retain their influence, in lieu of face-to-face time.

1. Fostering Relationships through a Screen

The move to remote work has brought about a decline in traditional workplace relationships, and their natural progression. However, research has shown that social support from coworkers can contribute to being happy and satisfied in the workplace.

A survey by Red Thread Research earlier this year found that organisations with more connections are 5.4 times more likely to be agile, 3.2 times more likely to have satisfied customers, and 2.3 times more likely to have engaged employees. By prioritising strong relationships, professionals can foster collaboration, share ideas, and work towards common goals.

Harvard Business Review said it best: “social capital can only be sustained with connection and relationship maintenance”. When working remotely, professionals face the challenge of effectively communicating and forging a sense of unity within their teams.

The absence of non-verbal cues and the myriad distractions in online meetings make it increasingly difficult to capture attention and win trust.

This requires a more deliberate approach to building and maintaining relationships with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, whether that’s taking the time to write persuasive emails, maintaining both online and offline accessibility, or keeping to your word to ensure you’re seen as reliable.

2. Creating Visibility and Engagement

Staying visible and engaged has become one of the biggest hurdles for professionals in the era of remote work. Feelings of disconnection from the team can and have led to reduced engagement levels for some companies. To overcome this challenge, today’s entrepreneurs and executives must adopt a proactive approach to communication.

Much like building relationships, active engagement requires intentionality and a new kind of “proactive” verbal and non-verbal communication. Ask direct questions, utilise vocal inflexions, vary your body language and maintain a visible presence in video conferences!

These and other strategies are effective, and now almost mandatory for enhancing online engagement and keeping people engaged. If executives are not seeing the responses e.g. heads nodding, think about what’s needed to engage the audience.

For many, basic etiquette such as muting notifications, keeping cameras on during calls, the use of in-call chats and reactions can often be overlooked. When there are five-plus different ambient sounds, it can be difficult for your team to retain focus.

It might sound basic, but these tips can be a simple and effective way to build both visibility and engagement for executives and their wider teams. Both online and offline, leaders should also encourage the sharing of personal tidbits to build trust and relatability, along with fostering a culture of encouragement.

Recognizing the contributions of team members is another vital aspect of boosting team morale. By actively participating, showcasing their work, and leveraging video conferencing tools, leaders can effectively guide their teams and establish comradery.

3. Crafting an Impactful Personal Brand

The rise of remote and hybrid work environments has underscored the importance of establishing a strong personal brand. In today’s digital landscape, it is no longer enough to have a noteworthy offline presence. Entrepreneurs need to focus on their impact and core values, not just on their bottom line, but on their wider team.

Curating a professional online persona by keeping their LinkedIn profiles updated, sharing thought-provoking content, and actively engaging with peers on social media platforms serves to build credibility, solidify influence in the digital space, and cultivate trust with clients and stakeholders. A resonant personal brand enables entrepreneurs to stand out from the competition, demonstrate expertise, and offer a unique perspective.

Effective personal branding transcends mere online presence; it involves delivering value to others, sharing insights, and positioning oneself as a thought leader within the industry. By crafting a compelling personal brand, professionals can navigate the digital realm with conviction and establish a robust presence.

4. Be open to learning and evolving

While public speaking skills remain critical both offline and online, continuous learning is particularly vital in the online landscape. With the ever-evolving nature of the modern workplace, good public speaking abilities are no longer limited to in-person interactions.

Business leaders must be willing to learn and evolve to stay relevant and effectively lead their teams to success. This includes setting aside time and energy to dedicate towards self-development, seeking advice from peers, and staying up to date with the latest acceptable practices.

Strong communication skills have far-reaching benefits, such as improved engagement, stronger relationships, enhanced job performance, and increased organisational success. Conversely, poor communication can have a detrimental effect on one’s career - CEO, Tim Gurner is the most recent example of this.

With the right mindset and skill set, professionals can effectively leverage technology, forge meaningful connections, and drive positive business outcomes in a digital age.

As remote and hybrid work environments look set to be the way we work for the foreseeable future, public speaking skills take on a new importance in retaining influence and thriving in the modern workplace.

In addition to the tools and approaches above, every executive would do well to embrace and utilise the tools at their disposal. So with that in mind, let us embrace the power of effective communication and unlock the full potential of remote and hybrid work.

Edited by Matthew Neville, Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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#Research #Communication #National #Premium #Insight #Premium #Hybrid Working

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