A friend reminded me this week that the digital solutions we have fast adopted to work remotely have been available for a long time. The technology isn't new. We just would never have thought about using it in such an all prevailing way.
The ease of using video conferencing and the fear of losing contact with teams saw a sharp increase in scheduled communication. Without informal and spontaneous interaction it felt like we may be missing important information. While we didn't realise it, we were afraid of losing what we had rather then creating meaningful connections in the digital space we found ourselves in.
Of course we have learnt a lot. Remote working and digital communication is here to stay. Remember the time we shifted from a text message being as acceptable as a phone call in many circumstances, the same is true of video conferencing for example. The social rules are still being formed when it comes to humanising the digital remote working experience. Here are a few ideas and tips that I have seen emerging.
On demand vs live: Consider what communication needs to be live and what can be on demand. During COVID when many people are struggling to balance home and work responsibilities in the one space, having the option to view and respond at a time where they can focus is appreciated.
Face up: Encourage everyone to show their face on camera. This is the new normal. There are always technology fails and reasons why people can't. That's OK. We want to see others, or otherwise just organise a phone conference call.
Let people know they will be on video: It's polite to do, more importantly it prepares others in advance. Some have shifted completely to video contact as their default. I have experienced calls via FaceTime that I assumed would be a phone call. While part of me thought I should expect this now, it is best practice to let others know.
Spec the Tech: There are many reasons why technology lets us down. We rely on it, but are baffled by it. I was given some good advice which is to always provide a phone contact and/or instruction on what will happen if connection is lost during a Zoom call. A simple but great idea. How often do we lose valuable time in discussions we are invested in trying to log back in or explain a tech fail.
Impressions and Engagement: Digital marketers use impressions and social engagement scores to measure impact. These two ideas are highly relevant when it comes to thinking about how digital communications are theoretically hitting the mark in remote working environments. They are human responses to messaging and content, not quantifiable like marketing campaigns, however strong guiding principles for how to think about humanising digital communications.
What are your thoughts on humanising the digital remote working experience? It's an evolving and important area of learning.