We started off by defining what a remote workforce meant to our company. And it was understood that this disconnection felt by remote workers tends to be caused by cultural differences, connectivity issues or language barriers in global organisations.
It was agreed that there are four main ways to define a remote worker:
1. Those that choose to be remote workers and have flexi-working. This type tends to work from home and have access to digital.
2. Those that have not got a choice, the nature of their job, i.e. based in a warehouse, means they are remote and tend to not have access to digital.
3. A hard to reach remote worker – those senior level workers who travel to many locations to get their job done.
4. Those “zombie” workers who are based in the head office, accessible to all channels, but are, however, sadly disengaged from them.
Outside of work, we voraciously consume content 24/7; the speed, the channel, the design.As technology advances, so have our expectations. It’s an important time for internal communicators to deliver relevant content, at the right time, on a channel that is easy to use and reflects the brand. Sounds simple? In some cases, it can be with careful planning and a strong strategy in place. However, technology for internal channels has some catching up to do. So in the meantime, if we a get a single sign-on for our intranets, professional look and feel and mobile friendly emails, it is a step in the right direction.
It was interesting to hear how the channel strategy needs to be carefully considered for each type of remote worker. If there is a clear understanding of what your employees need and how they best consume content, this knowledge will create a strategy to drive adoption and engagement. For example, you would not invest in an employee app, if the majority of the workforce did not have a mobile device or the willingness to use their personal device. You may find the simple solution is often the best – a printed newsletter in their break out area. Listening to what employees want and delivering relevant content to help make their jobs better is key to engagement. Regarding apps, we discussed how valuable it can be to organically increase adoption by utilising key ambassadors to show how it adds value. Other peers may then adopt it further down the line and it will become the ‘must have’ tool. This could be a great way to start when you have a proportion of your employees’ eager for this type of channel.
We talked about crisis comms, particularly relevant as whilst we were in discussion, the Parson’s Green bomb had gone off. There was discussion around how, if your crisis communications plan lives on the intranet, a separate strategy for your remote workers is essential if they do not have access this. Thinking strategically, putting yourself in your remote workers shoes and listening, will allow you to have an appropriate plan in place. In addition, with cyber security breaches becoming more and more common, an offline crisis comms pack is essential, and not only for remote workers.
There was a lot of discussion around digital tools such as Yammer, Facebook Workplace and WhatsApp. It’s great to hear how these channels have enabled two-way communications, collaborative working and lots of fun. Popular posts and ways to enable adoption included leaders and CEOs doing everyday things like getting his/her morning coffee, competitions and we even discussed how pet pictures can go a long way. Breaking down siloes, and letting people know they can use their voice will then lead to business talk as well. The higher the adoption on these tools, the more topic groups and collaboration will occur. Ensuring your ESN works seamlessly with your intranet can make for a great experience culturally and improve productivity.
The role of traditional channels is definitely still alive and will complement the wider strategy to ensure all employees are touched with the key messages.
Kate Shanks at theblueballroom says; “I really love the work I do – being able to work on a strategy to surprise and delight is so exciting. Making employees, wherever they work, think differently and see the unexpected. Whether that’s a digital platform, roadshow event or even vinyls on the bathroom mirrors, letting employees know how they can play their part is key.”
There is still a big reliance on the cascade of information and the way the messages are communicated. If you have an inspiring management team, fully trained in the art of storytelling and geared with a toolkit to make their job easier, then that’s when the magic can really happen.
It is impossible to have “one culture” in a global organisation. With acquisitions, multiple languages and locations this would be incredibly challenging. However, all employees believing in the company purpose, values and mission is very achievable and what we all strive for as internal communicators. Two-way communications can be the ultimate goal for many organisations and may take a cultural change piece to achieve it. This is great to hear because top down messages will not engage in the long run. We need to spark innovation and encourage collaborative working to truly measure engagement.
We were so pleased to be involved with such a vibrant discussion and look forward to doing more events in this style. If you would like to discuss your remote worker challenges, or have a topic in mind for future events please get in touch to let us know.