After a long 7 weeks in the home office, something like normality has now returned to us in this crazy Corona situation. The shop is running and we owe that to our tirelessly motivated communicoders, customers and partners. Continuing to work successfully together, even if not together, is the big topic in our everyday life. Working from home blurs the lines between work and privacy, which brings both opportunities and risks. We welcome tips and ideas from the media and are happy to share our best practices: what used to be the case is now all the more important and we are becoming even more aware of many things.
Communication and feedback culture
As in the office or at workshops, appreciative and respectful communication with interlocutors is absolutely important. With phone calls, however, the other person's facial expressions cannot be seen and there is more room for interpretation with written messages than with the spoken word. With video conferencing, you can see and hear each other speaking, which makes things a lot easier.
When you feel like your message has been misinterpreted, direct conversation is the best way to resolve many potential conflicts.
At the same time, not every word should be “put on the gold scales”. The recipient of a message should pay less attention to individual words than to what is said as a whole. This makes it easier to keep the focus on the essentials and at the same time helps the working atmosphere.
Find a common rhythm
The home office gives some of us new scope and flexibility. Longer journeys are suddenly no longer necessary, but so are the usual breaks with colleagues. For many colleagues, the new situation requires an adjustment in working methods and times. It is advisable to openly discuss in the project team/department whether the time that applies (for the office) also works in the new situation or whether it needs to be adjusted. We take into account the private situation of our employees. Empathy and mutual understanding are the order of the day here.
Regular working hours
Just like in the office, regulated times for the start and end of work as well as breaks provide orientation. Especially with flexible working hours, transparency is important and the entry in your own or team calendar is the simplest solution. We at communicode have access to all calendars and can therefore also take them into account when planning appointments.
Virtual call waiting
When we have short questions to colleagues, we have gotten into the habit of “knocking” via chat to see if the person has time for a chat instead of simply calling. Alternatively, we have set up virtual rooms for our teams, which you can join without image and sound and still be able to respond to questions. Anyone who has an appointment “somewhere else” simply leaves the room.
Of course, communication in virtual space is particularly important and should take place intensively. Concentrated work on your own tasks, which you do on your own, is sometimes not that easy. It makes sense to secure enough time for this with the help of a calendar entry. I like to call such appointments "no internal appointments please" and am even politely reminded of it.
Perhaps you will agree with me that the more people participate, the more difficult it becomes to conduct virtual meetings efficiently and in a targeted manner. Adhering to basic principles when dealing with each other in general and in meeting situations in particular is important enough in everyday office life, in virtual space there is “no alternative” if a meaningful result is expected.
Our common guide:
No invitation without an agenda
The agenda enables all participants and oneself to prepare for the appointment and to formulate questions (or even answers). Of course, this also applies to personal meetings.
In order to involve all participants in the dialogue, active and strong moderation is recommended. Pointing out this necessity due to the new situation right at the beginning of the meeting creates understanding on all sides.
Who writes the minutes?
The demands on the moderator are even higher in online conferences than in face-to-face meetings. Here as there, a note taker can be appointed who summarizes the results of the appointment and records the next actions. "Who does what by when" is a dictum for us.
Plan generous breaks
In online meetings, breaks are often forgotten. Depending on how experienced the participants are with online meetings and how familiar they are with the content to be discussed, attention can quickly be overstretched. Especially in longer webinars of online workshops, breaks should take place after 60 to 90 minutes and last about 15 minutes. This can be planned as usual in the agenda and addressed openly at the beginning of the appointment.
Be on time
Even if it's a question of general courtesy, punctuality is very important in online meetings. It is precisely here that repetition of content is tedious and exhausting. In the event of technical problems or other good reasons, the moderator/inviter should be informed of the delay by e-mail, SMS or similar.
Say hello and your name
Since not every online meeting uses a camera, it's helpful to say your name when entering the conference. Thus the moderator knows who is present.
Mute the microphone
To avoid distractions or acoustic problems caused by background noise, the microphone is muted when not speaking. Even if there are no sound issues, other participants may have trouble connecting. Any unnecessary background noise should therefore be avoided.
In virtual meetings in particular, there is a great temptation to do something else on the side. You should definitely avoid that. Your interlocutors will notice or see your inattention. This is rude and not very appreciative.