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Effective communication strategies in business for 2021 and beyond

Author: Mike Elgan

The global pandemic of 2020 changed everything, especially business communications. Without much warning or preparation, employees relocated from corporate headquarters and offices to their homes where many would continue to work indefinitely. COVID-19 has forced many organizations to consider communication strategies in business and determine best practices in this new world.

With the massive move to remote working, employees found themselves suddenly having to adapt to new ways of working from sharing their home broadband connection with their children to spending hours a day on video calls. All of which highlights the importance of the cloud and easy-to-use tools, VPNs, user-administered backup and security, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.  In particular, many organizations viewed unified communication and collaboration tools as essential replacements for face-to-face meetings, business phone calls, business travel and more.

Now that we’re beyond the first phase of the pandemic, it's clear that business communications have been forever altered and we’ve entered a new world of human interaction.

The future of face-to-face interactions

Video conferencing has quickly become ubiquitous; but it’s rapid rise in popularity doesn't quite explain what's really happening. Although certain industries and professions have used video calling solutions for years, the majority of workers who were not remote had little reason to do so.

According to surveys compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management, the switch to remote work is stressing many employees and causing burnout, along with feelings of isolation and disconnection. Employees aren't getting enough of the right kind of communication; "nearly half" of participants in a CultureX survey said that "effective communication is crucial to their transition to remote work."

This is why it's a priority for managers, industry leaders and other professionals to organize communication strategies in business around sustainability from an employee morale perspective.

Remote work isn't going away

The pandemic is also demonstrating that more people than previously expected are able to work from home full time. A recent study found that 37% of US jobs can be performed entirely at home, and an inordinate number of people will be able to work part-time from home. A remote work culture breeds more work that can be done remotely. As we rapidly digitize business processes, we'll soon discover that more jobs can be done remotely.

Remote work was already steadily growing before the sudden rise of the pandemic. Forging new habits is an underappreciated byproduct of the time spent in lockdown. Even people who return to office work will continue to use the tools and systems that dominated the workplace during the pandemic, in part because they may be communicating with colleagues still working remotely, and in part because the businesses that employ them found advantages to using them.

In 2020, we have seen a cultural reversal in how many employees work and communicate that is likely to continue. In the past where remote employees had to conform to the tools and habits of in-office employees even those working at corporate headquarters may continue to work and interact as remote employees do.

Remote work is the new normal.

How to prepare for the new future of business communication

The year 2020 will be remembered as the year when everything changed in how businesses operate, and many of these changes will be permanent. The time to prepare for this future is now. Here are a few imperatives for effective communications strategies in business:

  • Bake morale-building into all your communication. This calls for frequent, consistent and meaningful communication, using a variety of communications tools that prevent "fatigue" on any single system. As more people work remotely, the concept of "employee experience" will come to rival concepts like "customer experience."
  • Collect, measure and monitor remote work data, especially around communication. Include poll data on how employees like or dislike various tools, initiatives and policies, as well as productivity metrics such as response times.
  • Develop tools, policies and management strategies focused on keeping employees productive and engaged. Communication will need to increasingly resemble social media, where learning, interaction, discovery and productivity all happen in a fluid multimedia environment.
  • Collaborate with HR departments on policies and tools for hiring and employee communication. Their role is more important than ever in the post-pandemic world.

In 2020 we have seen some businesses recreate communication strategies to adapt to the new work environment.

Help your employees understand and adapt to your new communication technologies with Verizon's Business Communications Adoption Services.