17 Mar Tech Is Tip Of The Remote Work Iceberg
Kate Winslet steps up onto the rail of the Titanic as Leonardo DiCaprio steadies her from behind. Wind coursing through her hair, Winslet exclaims, “I’m flying!” Had Winslet worked in modern day corporate communications, she might be flying without a net in readying her company colleagues to work remotely. That’s because a majority of leaders appear to be relying solely on technology to prepare their workforces to perform from home offices. Read on to learn why tech is just the tip of the remote work iceberg, and how smart teams are navigating around the obstacles to success by mastering culture and communications.
AN APP FOR EVERYTHING
As you’d expect, tech firms have offered-up software as THE solution to your remote work challenges. In fact, many of these offerings are quite good. Solutions span a spectrum of use cases, from that old stalwart of email to apps that can tame nearly any task on your to-do list:
- Communicating with employees (Dynamic Signal, Speakap, Yammer, Jive)
- Distributing video (Kaltura, Brightcove, Ooyala)
- Call forwarding/answering (Talkroute.com)
- Scheduling meetings (Calendly.com)
- Voice conferencing (FreeConferenceCalling.com)
- Video conferencing (Google Hangouts, Zoom, Bluejeans, GoToMeeting)
- Messaging (Slack, Google Hangouts, Teams, FB Messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat, Speakap, Skype Business)
- Collaborating (Google G-Suite)
- Managing projects & workflow (Clubhouse, Trello, Zoho, Basecamp)
Shelly Palmer wrote an excellent article on his experience with many of these apps.
TOO MUCH TECH
With that said, too much of a good tech thing can be overwhelming. And that’s most certainly true of workplace productivity apps. A recent Ring Central study of 2,000+ knowledge workers uncovered 3 eye-opening findings:
- Employees use at least four business productivity apps on average, and 20% are using six or more.
- 68% of employees toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour.
- 69% of employees waste an hour a day or the equivalent of 32 days each year navigating between apps.
So, be sure to match the right apps with the unique ways people work and communicate best in your organization. It’s then up to your communications team to articulate how and when employees should use those apps, with a focus on getting things done in a remote world. After all, the apps are merely tools to aid effectiveness, whether your company sells soda, produces prescription medication, or creates cybersecurity software.
CULTURE TO COMPLEMENT TECH
Like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, the unspoken workplace rules of old school managers are clashing with the newfound flexibility enabled by apps. It used to be that “hard work” equated to sitting at your desk for long hours. “Commitment” meant arriving early and leaving late…as long as you walked by the boss’ office for that all-important visual verification. The culture clash between command-and-control supervision and modern management is underway, like fisticuffs between Billy Zane and Leonardo DiCaprio.
This rift between remote tech and traditional ways of working gives rise to one of the most important opportunities for communication leaders. That opportunity is rewriting the rules of office culture for a remote world. It’s about embracing clear expectations, measuring meaningful outcomes, and verifying deliverables with hard data instead of applauding workplace theatrics. This will require a new level of rigor in identifying goals and objectives, along with coaching team members via continuous and constructive conversations.
COMMUNICATION BEYOND THE BREAKROOM FLYER
At its simplest, communication involves 2 variables: content and channels. The rules behind compelling content are still intact, coronavirus be damned.
Company messaging must earn employee attention for a chance to raise awareness, secure buy-in, and impact behavior around key business initiatives. That can be achieved in the following ways:
- Subject lines, headlines, layouts, video messages, and presentations must be interesting and unique to catch the eyes and ears of employees who are still earning their sea legs during the daily distractions of a home office environment.
- Content needs to inform with a level of clarity and concision to drive retention of important information
- Content must inspire action so that every individual can help move the company’s agenda by breaking organizational inertia to get things done.
And how about the channels for delivering your content to employees? Say goodbye (for now) to in-person town halls, digital screens in hallways, posters and flyers on breakroom bulletin boards, and memos displayed above urinals and bathroom stall doors. Instead, look for new places to win share of mind with remote workers.
Email may still be the cruiseliner of communications (large, traditional, reliable), but on-demand video is the speedboat of storytelling, powered by sight, sound and motion. That’s because the most effective messaging medium elicits both a rational and emotional response to win employee hearts and minds. Humans feel more connected when they see one another, especially given the importance of non-verbal communication and body language in remote communications. The channels by which to transmit that video include your email, intranet, and social messaging platform.
VIRTUAL VIDEO STUDIO FOR A VIRTUAL OFFICE
What to do when your internal video studio is closed? Create a virtual studio! Take a note from YouTube and ask executives and employees to record video clips that communicate culture and best practices. User-generated content (UGC) can be extremely powerful for peer-to-peer learning and leveling-up the authenticity of leader communications. While most team members may not be Spielberg or Scorsese with a smartphone, virtual studios like OFC can curate UGC videos (and pics) and then combine them with graphics, animation and music during the edit process to surface amazing stories. Employees can also submit voice memos that are brought to life with motion graphics and kinetic text to transform training and announcements into must-watch clips. Animated explainer videos are also exceptionally effective at conveying complex ideas when produced from professionally written scripts, voiceovers and music. Best of all, the above video approaches can be flawlessly executed in a virtual environment. The key is getting expert guidance on soliciting UGC from your executives & employees, curating/organizing the best content, and then transforming raw footage into high impact storytelling that earns attention and inspires action. With OFC as your crew-mate, you can become the James Cameron of corporate user-generated content : )
About the Author
Jordan Berman is the Founder & CEO of OFC (ofc.tv), a creative agency and video production studio that injects storytelling into employee communications and training to earn attention and inspire action. OFC lives by the words, TYPICAL IS INVISIBLE™, and resides at the intersection of pop culture and office culture to build multimedia campaigns that create buzz, drive engagement and maximize results one cubicle at a time. Clients include PepsiCo, AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Motorola Solutions. Jordan previously held senior marketing positions at MTV, Showtime, AT&T, Black & Decker, and the DDB agency. He has a BS in Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell and an MBA from NYU.