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Over-communication: Why it's important with remote work.


It’s been umpteen months since many companies and organizations have transformed what modern work culture is. A pandemic that is actively affecting over 7 billion people - with many of us who are privileged to be working from home or somewhere else remotely, we no longer enjoy the liberty of walking to a colleague to quickly brainstorm solutions to that huge project.

So, with newly habitual video and collaboration tools, scheduled “can I talk to you for a few minutes” and fewer high fives, how do we ensure our colleagues are well-informed of problem-solving, decision-making, project updates, general reporting and other information?

Over-communication. The act of communicating excessively. As negative of a connotation that may sound, over-communication is actually beneficial in the now “disconnectedly connected” workplace.

Here’s why:

1) Many are tackling the remote work environment shift in different ways. It can be overwhelming. When you send your colleague an email with a complementing direct message with supportive emojis (all the food emojis are welcome 🍜), your colleague will be feel well-appreciated and regarded. That can improve well-being, and, at times, even productivity in the workplace.

2) Teamwork is solidified when you’re letting your co-workers know what’s going on. I may be biased because of the work environment I currently enjoy, but with the faster pace of decision-making, a hodgepodge of complementing digital skills and growth opportunities, you may be paired or assigned in with a group of interdisciplinary colleagues. Set that private thread of communication with these folks. There are many moving pieces to projects - don’t be a cog that’s out of the loop ⚙️.

3) Technology can fail us. Feel free to give your client a call when you’re able to ship a major feature for them or conquer a hurdle - even after you sent them that long, reassuring email. Why? Well, ‘cause the Internet can suck. Microsoft Teams, Slack and other collaboration tools promote faster response times than email does. But what happens when both fail because of the mighty Internet? Depending on context and relationship, pick up your phone 📱. I know I can call my squad if I need to.

4) This may be ironic or even anti-thematic, but it’s unfortunate that people are completely swamped with direct messages, emails and online advertising. Thus, if your team member sees you commenting on that ticket, Slacking you and sending an email to the larger team - all about the same thing - it probably means something is quite important here. Now, depending on personality, responsibilities and even perceived etiquette, this may not be successful. But hey, I’ve been called out for “spam” only once but in the nicest way possible 😉.

5) Direction and clarity can both be compromised when you can’t pat on someone’s shoulder. Two-word email replies can cost companies thousands of dollars. Does that sound bizarre? It actually isn’t. Let’s say you're a procurement manager of medical devices. You send an email to your boss with “Let’s hold off from ordering another few dozens of them unless you think we can move forward now.” A “Sounds good” reply from your boss can be a dozen things. You may over-order when your boss really meant “it’s a good idea if you’re saying we should hold off for now”. There you go. $150,000 down the drain 📉. Use your tools. Ask questions through various channels if needed.

Over-communicate. Your team deserves it. You do, too.

About the Author:

Nick brings forward a mixed skill set of web product management, business development, digital marketing and business strategy, built from both the Halifax tech ecosystem and the agency space. From leading content strategy and business development tactics to optimizing user and web search experience, Nick is a jack of many trades.

As a digital product manager, Nick is enthused to be IABC Maritime’s Director of Web Strategy, refining and running many of the IABC Maritime’s website’s communications.

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