Many businesses around the world, including hotels, are currently in the middle of one of the biggest social experiments they’ve ever conducted — working from home. The majority of these offices may have never worked remotely before, especially in the hotel industry where so much work is done on-site. Suddenly technology that’s taken for granted in the office is nowhere to be found at home. No proper headphones at home means online meetings are impacted. No well-functioning computer also impacts workflow. However, two or three weeks into working from home, most technical issues have been resolved. But what about other aspects of working from home, like communication? And how much does communication online differ from communication face-to-face?
Spoiler alert: a lot!
Over the past couple of years, the Hotelchamp team has mastered work from home (WFH) skills. With a team from all around the world and a passion for travel, we’ve adapted to be effective while working remotely. And we want to share our key tips with you! Here are our top three tips on how to effectively communicate when working from home:
1. A fertile ground
Have you ever paid attention to how efficient your company's internal meetings really are? And has the structure of these meetings changed over the past two or three weeks?
In general, there are three different types of meetings: The first is the 'battleground'. This is the type of meeting everyone has sadly, probably participated in at least once in their life. Battleground meetings aren't healthy, as everyone tries to push their own opinions through and there is a constant "battle" as people try to come up with even greater ideas than what has been shared already.
The second type is the 'merry-go-round' meeting. Someone suggests something and everyone else either agrees or disagrees and says why they disagree. Then the next person says something, everyone else agrees or disagrees and says why they disagree. And on and on it goes. This is the never-ending meeting and also not what you want to pursue in your company communication.
What you should aim for, is the third, and best meeting type: the 'fertile ground' meeting. With this type of meeting, there is a general objective you all have in mind. Members of this meeting are supporting and encouraging each other. A clear meeting structure is in place and is being followed. It's not just about you, but it's also not about sharing everyone's thought on everything that's being said. It's about what makes sense and ensuring that people feel comfortable to speak.
Always keep in mind, that in a meeting you should all be aiming for the same goal or the same outcome of what you want to achieve. It makes sense to support and encourage each other, rather than compete with one another for a chance to speak. This is especially important when you're having meetings online. Background noise and technology issues can already make it challenging enough. In times like these, you don't always know what the individual really has on their plate and there can be general tension and uncertainty already across the team. So be kind, help each other out and make the online meeting as smooth and efficient as possible.
2. Listen first, speak later
Now, you've probably experienced this before: You're sitting in a meeting and someone says something. What the other person says reminds you of something that you definitely need to share with the group. And it's important, so you try to keep this thought in your mind because you're scared you will forget it. You're starting to get nervous and anxious that maybe you will miss your turn and then no-one will ever hear this great idea of yours.
Cool, write it down.
It's simple as that. Writing down the ideas that pop into your head while someone else is speaking will allow you to keep focussing on what is being said. Imagine, it's your turn and you're excited to share your brilliant solution for a specific problem with the team - and you notice that a few of your team aren't actively listening because they are distracted by their own thoughts. You wouldn't like that either, would you?
To prove it's not just us that think this is the golden meeting rule, here is a quick back up. Emma Serlin, director and founder of the London Speech Workshop states in The Connection Book that there are three general levels of listening one can follow:
- Self-oriented listening. That's the one described above: You are focussed more on when it's going to be your turn to speak instead of really following what's being said.
- Actively-engaged listening. This is what we encourage you to do: Note your thoughts down, so you won't be scared of losing them. This allows you to focus on the meeting at hand and give honest feedback to your teammates.
- Deeply-understanding listening. This is when you sit back and observe what's happening. Who of the others is a bit more quiet, but seems to actually have super relevant things to share? Encourage them to come forward! Who cannot wait to speak and seems a little nervous? Support them and take some weight off their shoulders by letting them speak!
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” We will leave you with this quote from Stephen R. Covey here and go on to our third and final tip.
3. This meeting could have been an e-mail
We get it. You're missing your office buddies, the chat at the coffee machine, the lunch breaks together and all of the laughter in-between. Does that mean you should schedule unnecessary meetings as an excuse to see each other? No. Send, short, clear e-mails about small things you want to share with the team or use Slack to create a poll and gather some feedback — everybody is still busy, acknowledge that.
And here is a solution for still keeping the good team vibe up and taking care of each other: suggest virtual hangouts. We have been doing this at Hotelchamp and it's fun! Can't have the regular Friday drinks in the office? Gather for online drinks on Zoom! Lunching alone at home isn't so much fun? Schedule regular, virtual lunch breaks online with your teamies — and make sure you don't just talk about work!
[caption id="attachment_9529" align="alignnone" width="700"]
How we do Friday drinks these days at Hotelchamp[/caption]
We hope our tips help you to have a good, healthy and efficient work-from-home time in the coming weeks. Do you have other tips for us or feedback on how to effectively communicate when working from home? We would love to hear from you! Send us an e-mail to email@example.com and we'd love to have a chat with you! For tips and insights on how the hospitality industry is tackling the current crisis, check out our latest webinar.