Employees are changing their views on how they want to work after experiencing the remote work setup. Our article entitled ‘The Future of Work is Remote’ highlights that more than half of employees want to continue working from home.
A major contributor to this is the flexible work setup, which grants employees greater autonomy in choosing where and how they work.
Even HR professionals agree that the remote working environment can be beneficial given that it improves employee productivity while greatly reducing operational costs.
As more employees opt to work from home, their interactions and relationships with their co-workers have drastically changed. Here’s how remote work has affected employee communication.
The Evolution of Workplace Communication
Long before remote working and the internet were used to improve businesses, employees worked in traditional office setups. Offices were — and still are — a conducive environment for workplace communication because everyone is within reach.
At this time, books like How to Win Friends and Influence People grew increasingly popular because they served as a guide that taught readers how to win over people in the business world and their personal lives.
But now the offices are, in many cases, optional, the self-help book has had to undergo drastic changes as well. The adaptation of this best-selling book emphasises just how much has changed within the span of a few decades.
And you can see that straight away from its title: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age.
This rendition highlights that online platforms have become both a boon and bane when it comes to establishing strong relationships within the workplace.
E-mails, social networking sites, and communication platforms have become additional tools for employee interaction. And while they allow employees from across the globe to interact, it still leaves much to be desired when compared to in-person communication.
The remote work setup limits face-to-face interactions, as these digital platforms have become the main vehicle for professional communication.
The Impact on Collaboration
The remote work setup creates invisible barriers to employee communication, and this can affect projects wherein collaboration is crucial.
In fact, a research study entitled ‘The Effects of Remote Work on Collaboration among Information Workers’ revealed that the rise of asynchronous communication has actually limited employee interaction.
Because employees were less likely to communicate with other departments, collaboration has decreased among the workers.
Another research study entitled ‘Achieving Effective Remote Working During the COVID‐19 Pandemic’ pointed out that poor communication among employees has directly affected their productivity.
The employees stated that these communication platforms make it difficult for individuals to communicate and process complex ideas.
Though video conferencing platforms can allow groups to express themselves in real-time, it can be quite difficult to exchange deep information through e-mails or chat tools.
As a result, employees struggle to brainstorm and think of new ideas.
The Potential for Multinational Teams
Despite the aforementioned, remote work isn’t all negative. As stated at the beginning of this article, remote workers can work wherever they want.
This flexibility can be an advantage, especially if companies are planning to build a multinational team.
A book entitled Virtual Teams Across Cultures: Create Successful Teams Around the World points out that remote work can be advantageous, especially if multicultural teams are successfully connected.
The author states that, once fairness and trust are established among employees, the benefits outweigh the challenges.
Multicultural team members that trust each other will openly ask for help, willingly share information, and easily resolve conflicts.
However, the author also highlighted that team members can struggle with cultural differences in communication and work.
And besides taking cultures into account, they also need to deal with barriers like time differences.
These time differences can make it tricky for employees to communicate urgent matters or set meetings.
Clearly, remote work has its pros and cons that affect businesses in different ways.
Communication, in particular, can prove a challenge, where employees have to rely on digital communication platforms.
These communication tools can create a negative impact on collaboration.
However, they can also open doors to new opportunities, like creating multinational teams.
At the end of the day, it falls on the company whether they will pursue this type of working setup or not.