Business Performance

Why over-communication is a bad recommendation when working remotely

You have likely read and heard that you should over-communicate when working remotely.

Over-communication is a terrible recommendation for the remote workplace. 

Communication has to be thought through, deliberate and timely. 

Taking time and flow from others is similar to stealing valuable time and energy. 

Deliberate communication is far more important and far better advice. 

A quick update is rarely quick if the update is not thought through and concise.

Communicate often but be more deliberate. 

Think communicate often vs over communicate. Clarity over having to work through the confusion. 

Create milestones where you will need to communicate.
Understand who needs the update, when and how you will deliver it. 

Channels Are Important 

Communication takes time for both parties, the receiver often has to decode what the sender means, you will be stuck in slack or teams for much longer than you need to be. 

Understand what channels and delivery methods are going to work most efficiently for you and your business. Every business ultimately works differently. 

Not everyone is built for video updates, however, adding audio over a spreadsheet or a document (presentation etc), allows for a richer experience and less need real-time conversations. 

Connect The Dots 

Communication is supposed to connect important dots – connect the dots on projects, campaigns and performance.
If you would like to update on personal situations or would like some help, don’t be put off – choose who can help.
It is important to understand that grabbing a few minutes to discuss remotely tends to be harder and more time consuming than quickly in person.   

Communication Principles

Create a set of principles you and your colleagues will follow. What channels work, what times work, what your expectations are. 
Communication principles will enable everyone to follow the same rules on the same tools.

Different Timing

Understanding how, when & to take the opportunity to communicate is harder remotely but can be worked out. Grabbing someone coming out of a meeting, returning to their desk, bumping into them in the hallway or kitchen doesn’t really happen, there are ways to help with this, by adding statuses on internal chat tools, enabling calendar views and having open rooms where you pop in for virtual HQ chats. 

It is also important to know having your own time for your own thoughts and deep work is important, keeping those around you updated will be important, a reminder or blocking time out will work. 

Internal Comms Battle

On many occasions, internal comms is often harder than external comms. Internal comms has to answer many more questions. Internal FAQ’s or project hubs will help improve this and keep everyone updated simply. There are plenty of tools available to help with this. 

Decision Document

Create a decision document or centralised document to have a timeline of updates, if you miss one update or miss a link in the chain, the wheels should not come off.

Leverage Tech 

Use spreadsheets, words, pictures and record video explainers were required. 

Tools like mmhmm, loom, canva & even instagram all make it free or low cost and possible to create explainers. You can also create this style of internal update on Macs or your smart phone.  

Five Quick Fire Tips 

  • Secret no-one wants to offer up: Save time for you, colleagues, your team &/or your boss, this feels obvious but time remotely is priceless 
  • Have communication hubs, have internal wiki’s, shared knowledge centres you keep up to date. This will reduce quick questions and long email threads 
  • Always question: Can I remove meetings and write a concise update or update the project overview and send a link instead? 
  • Consider the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) model of updates 
  • Can you use BLUF? BLUF is a military communications short for bottom line up front, it is essentially communicating with the most important details first, with clear tone and a clearer ask. 

Recommended Reading

Anonymous Career Advice

Dear Focus, Anonymous Career Advice

Over the past twelve months, there has been a number of professionals who have struggled with the newer ways of working.

Being disconnected from colleagues, reduced interactions and being disconnected physically away from your team has seen a number of new challenges and led to a number of your colleagues questioning their role at your company and questioning if it is a good time for a career change.

The forced remote world of work we have experienced has challenged the least experienced to the most experienced.
From seeing colleagues leave, furloughs, redundancies and having to pick up more work with less support around us.

Even in recent CEO mentorship sessions and CMO coaching sessions, experienced leaders have asked for career advice which if anonymised it would be applicable to many others in similar positions.

It is imperative we set everyone up for the future of work and workforce and often you just do not have the support network you require for the problems you encounter.

So today, I am announcing Dear Focus, an anonymous career advice column, send in your questions and we will write up as a blog post to offer career advice and provide support. Please remember this is anonymous unless you decide to include your email and will send the article when live.

If you would like advice please complete the form below.

Leaders Letters (AKA Focus Newsletter) That May Help In The Meantime:


Proven Tips To Reduce Working From Home Stresses

Here are five proven tips that I have found that reduces working from home stresses for me and Focus’ clients.

Walk And Talk Meetings

Meeting dictates our mood, our delivery and our flow throughout the day. Get vitamin D, fresh air and new views to reduce down MRS and meeting anxieties.

Walk and talk meetings, turn one to ones into walk and talk meetings. These were great in the office and great out of the office. I personally like these when no one has to present. If you need to switch on the camera and have an iPhone leverage FaceTime audio and this enables you to switch on the camera.

In our leader’s letter newsletter; optimise your meetings, we touch upon meeting recovery syndrome (MRS) and why it is so important to vary and improve your meetings.

Schedule Pro

Communication fatigue is a battle we have always faced, never as challenging as with our remote-first, forced working-from-home situation we find ourselves in across the global. Scheduling will be a bit step to winning.

Use scheduling email features to clear 30 minutes of your day.
Emails take up hours per day, scheduling emails to send at the end of the day or the next morning will free up your time of unwanted responses or late pings.
If you are a leader you can leverage the internal out of office settings to notify those around you of your working hours.
Use scheduling in apps to prevent notifications from work apps.

Daily 30:15 Time Blocking

Time is the battle ground that everyone fights to win. Win by owning your time and using calendar blocking.

Block out the first 30 mins and last 15 mins of your day to plan and debrief your day.
The 30-minute morning session: Write a quick five most important actions to complete for the day ahead. This helps to clarify what is most important and a guide throughout the day.

Clients have said over the recent months that these 30-minute sessions help to structure writing a letter to their team.

In the evening, write down five points that are occupying your thoughts. These can be the most important projects, the people you want to pick projects up with, the people you want to proactively reach out to or the essential communications you need to send.

Remove Camera View

Being on camera remotely is a performance. It is challenging and a battle, reduce this stress down.

Hide your own camera/view on video calls and hide all non-video views. This will prevent you from looking at yourself and being interrupted by those who have called in and flashing through video calls.

When you run your own working from home retrospective, these are all tips that will help guide you forward as a team, a department or as the company as a whole.

Leave The Home Office

Working from home is new to so many professionals, it has become challenging to leave work. Learn to draw a line and create deliberate boundaries.

Block out the area of your living for work and close the station down, shut down the laptop, place on the chair out of view, place notepads, coasters, post-it notes etc on top of the laptop.
Clear divide helps to shut off and a clear space = clear mind.

In the very near future, in the future of work and the workplace we will likely see working from home (or remotely) take up 70% of your working and knowing how to draw the professional and personal line will be imperative.

Setting ourselves up for success in the Hybrid Office aka the Future.

If you would like to understand and plan for the future of work and the hybrid workplace, download our Hybrid Workplace Ebook Here.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 34 – How To Review & Critique Forced Working From Home

1st February 2021

Dear Leaders, welcome to February.

As it is the first week of February I wanted to write to you with something that has come up in many conversations with a variety of managers and leaders.

The first year of working remotely and how you might address this milestone in form of a retrospective.

Retro’s don’t have to be super long sessions or broken down into complicated workshop sessions, retros do, however, require a deliberate plan and an outline ahead of the hour session and help to provide context points of the remote world of work we entered into March 2020.

Important Points To Keep In Mind

  • It is important to note it was forced worked from home and everyone’s office is now different. Each country or state has seen a different approach, so has impacted everyone differently.
  • The remote office dynamics are very different from in the HQ dynamics and many people have struggled to adapt to working from home (image below to help demonstrate this)
  • Many colleagues have not had the chance to be their best work self and to many, this has frustrated them – this is individual and as a leader, it is important to help where possible.
  • There is a constant demand to perform in remote presentations, so there are more pressures and less opportunity to add your opinion and insights when who shouts loudest is often heard most.
  • There has also been a demand in knowing how to act and deliver on a live video, why? There are constant micro-reviews of you, your background, the noise, the echos from no headphones and the interruptions we all dislike, and to the formal zoom shirt, you always wear in important meetings.

There are a lot more of people who have thrived, it has given them time to get their heads down, concentrate on their deliverables and helped to remove some of the office politics they were exposed to within an office environment.

The Mad Glad Sad Retro

Some Product teams have a mad, glad, sad sessions where they run through a product release and review what made them mad, glad and sad.
This is something that could easily work with teams and departments, this also gives chance for colleagues to share their experiences and help each other with tips and action items. Quick snappy insights and shared experiences are important, the flow of these retro’s should be quick, collaborative and actionable.

Three Quick Retro Tips:
1. Use an open document/slides or miro or mural to enable real-time collaboration and a centralised view, this really helps the format work.
2. Try to be fair but start with positives (Like Bob Iger’s recommendation in leaders letter 2), do not focus in on all of the mad or sad, this will not set the right tone moving forward.
3. If you are looking to delegate, your hidden leader or secret weapon will be great options to lead these types of retro’s. It is essential you attend if you are the most senior, your attendance and participation will be priceless.

Make It Actionable & Follow Up

It is important to keep note, address important issues and follow up with deadlines of how you can make these better and improve for the future. Refer back to open document or Miro and show how you are moving these tickets forward and hopefully moving mad and sad into glad.

It is important you see this milestone as an important opportunity to bring the department closer to together, shape the company culture and collaborate on the future hybrid office.

For the week ahead, Focus on: Planning this session, see it as an opportunity to bring teams together and get around the campfire to share experiences and feel safer in knowing you are proactively trying to make a difference.

If you would like to read more about the future of work and the future of the workplace definitely read our guide below:

Let me know how your planning and the retro session goes by emailing me.

Thanks, leaders and have a good week ahead.

Danny Denhard

PS. You should be planning for the hybrid future, our free ebook is a must-read. The Hybrid Office Ebook

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