Based on our direct experience, having a flexible working arrangement brings many positives, such as freedom to work from anywhere, the flexibility to be onsite or remote, and potential improvements to the work-life balance.
However, there is a possible downside that organisations must be aware of. When your team is separated, miscommunication can threaten their cohesion. Today, we want to explore the cost of miscommunication and its effects on your workforce and productivity.
According to the communications experts at Grammarly, professional employees spend about 50% of their day reading and writing. The same data reveals that 82% of business leaders and 59% of knowledge workers are concerned about how hybrid working models can affect communication.
The dangers of endemic miscommunication are heightened by the use of outdated programs and subscribing to multiple platforms that may not work seamlessly across different applications. As a good starting point, we suggest applying a simple two-tiered communications approach to minimise confusion and ensure messages don’t fall between the cracks.
- Emails are used for more formal comms that may need chains for clarity and context
- Online messengers or chat are employed for instant, informal messaging, sharing links and real-time ideas
The research done by Grammarly reveals that 86% of professional employees experience communication issues at work. The top pain points include:
- receiving a timely response – 49%
- communicating messages clearly – 37%
- understanding messages from others – 33%
- keeping up with communication frequency – 31%
- employing the proper tone -30%
- choosing the right communication platform – 26%
The data highlights that while leaders estimate that their teams spend 29% of their day collaborating, the true figure is much higher at 51%.
The greatest impact of poor communication is increased worker stress and decreased employee satisfaction. After all, nobody enjoys fumbling in the dark.
A traditional office environment allows for non-verbal communication to fill in the gaps that might arise when employees are geographically separated. Was the person smiling when they made that suggestion? Did they have a non-verbal urgency when they made that request? When a colleague sits only metres away, any misunderstandings can be resolved in seconds with a simple, non-intrusive clarification instead of a formal, scheduled conversation.
Even though your team may no longer be working in the office 100% of the time, everyone still needs to be able to communicate 100% of the time.
The illuminating Grammarly data shows that approximately 7.4 hours of productive time per week per employee is lost due to miscommunication. Many employees are working the equivalent of a 4-day week because of breakdowns in effective communication. The business costs of this are enormous.
So how do we address this?
As a provider of secure, modern workplace tools, we would highlight the need for fast, reliable Internet access, cloud data storage, and collaborative software such as Sharepoint to allow multiple users to work instantaneously on shared projects. Remote work options also raise potential cyber security issues, so protection must also be built into any framework. Finally, an automated backup program to save and protect organisational data would be on our list of key recommendations.
With the correct tools in place, here are some ways to improve your comms clarity:
- Provide context regarding what a message is about
- Always have an agenda when booking a Teams meeting
- Be upfront. Don’t beat around the bush. Confirm and reconfirm key details that will facilitate a deeper understanding
- Before you hit that send button, read your messages out loud and check that the tone is appropriate and matches the subject matter
- Try to simplify everything; complication is the enemy of clear communication
The final statistic we’ll reference is that 63% of knowledge workers say, “I wish my company had better tools to help people communicate effectively.” Think of the upside of providing your team with the best business communication tools available.
Maybe we can help.