4 Trends to Reinspire Communication
Communication is at the heart of everyday work life – and everyone brings their own experiences, even if they do not have communication in their job titles. Thoughtful communication is key to a coherent and successful working day, and with the new developments in our workplace, communication also requires different adjustments. In this post, I will tackle four communication challenges that relate to the four mega trends currently shaping the future of the workplace.
Challenge: Bringing people’s needs to the center of innovation: the art of active listening
An innovative workplace starts with its people and how they collaborate and exchange ideas. A positive work environment is key to fostering engagement and enthusiasm. Wellbeing is a very individual topic that comes from a worker’s personal perception of what they need for a healthy work environment. Here, active listening is an important competence in understanding different needs within a team.
Active listening is associated with the desire to comprehend what another person is sharing, enabling an understanding of their perspective before answering or making suggestions. Lyreco, like many other companies, has embraced active listening as part of their work philosophy. The practice of regular check-ins with team members, as well as with customers can really help to develop an awareness of what is important for people, including what they care about, their current level of satisfaction, and their unmet needs.
Listening is a skill that can be continually practiced and improved in any work situation. Understanding more about other people helps us to adapt our actions according to a learned awareness. For innovation processes, it can identify more clearly where challenges exist and where to improve or introduce a solution. Active listening is a collective learning process and by practicing it with co-workers, it can inspire others and improve team culture.
2) Hybrid Work
Challenge: Supporting collaboration and team bonding in times of remote work
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to become more digital and flexible for remote working. This has reduced the number of face-to-face interactions to connect with the team or the company’s culture. With an increase in hybrid and remote working, communication itself becomes challenging: How can communication become a social glue that binds team members together to create a culture of collaboration - even across different sites and offices?
“Unlike invention, innovation can’t exist without communication (…) It only happens thanks to groups of people working together to achieve a specific goal (Alex Goryachev, Forbes).”
This change is supported by choosing new work modalities and communication tools, yet each tool comes with different advantages and disadvantages. The wide choice of software and applications does not necessarily make it easier to set up better working processes. There is no single solution that fits all; thus, having conversations and actively listening to the different preferences within the team can be a starting point to collectively reflect on the collaboration needs and help to create a suitable work environment together.
Challenge: Understanding one’s role and possible contribution to the innovative organization
Most companies or organisations have a clear mission or vision statement on their website. However, once an employee is recruited, how present is that vision in the daily work life? A study by PwC found that there is big potential for organisations to create a clearer link between the employee’s daily work tasks and the company’s mission, whilst answering the growing need for workers to understand how their work contributes to these missions.
"To be fully engaged, employees need to find meaning in their daily work. But fewer than half say they do" (PwC)
An engaged workforce that shares feedback and ideas is key for any innovative organisation. The major challenge of internal communication is to support employees’ engagement by creating the link between their daily work efforts and how they contribute to the overall mission of the company. For this, the mission needs to be tangible and translated into the language of the different departments. If employees know how they are supporting their company’s mission, this can potentially also facilitate a greater openness for workers to adopt new methodologies and technologies, even if these seem to be a disruptive change for their working life.
4) The next web
Challenge: Identifying relevant information about new technological developments
The world is moving faster than ever, and new technologies and applications are being developed at an exponential rate. For example, blockchain, the metaverse, or virtual currencies are topics that are frequently in the news or within conversations at work, whilst not everyone knows what they really mean or how these may change our way of working.
Such uncertainties can generate anxiety and resistance towards future technologies and potential changes. However, a generally open mindset from employees can elevate the overall innovativeness and make the organisation more successful in the future, as a survey on digital transformation by McKinsey points out. There can be different formats or strategies to reduce the different knowledge gaps on future technologies within the workforce, such as newsletters, web series, or lunch and learn sessions.
With an eye on what is relevant for the organisation, it can require a dedicated role or working group to regularly find content about latest trends and technological developments among the flood of information available. Curating content in an interesting format and sharing it across the right channels can offer the first orientation and inspire discussions at work. Ideally, content or activities can serve as a bridge-builder to ensure that some workers do not feel left behind in conversations on technological trends.
Reflecting and continuously improving communication in the workplace is vital for any future-oriented organisation. It has the potential to bring everyone on board about new developments and can teach them how they can contribute to the higher mission of the organisation. It can also improve the well-being and the perception of the work environment when active listening is more valued as a competence and applied in more everyday situations. The more interaction and exchanges we create, the better the team identity and bond will become. And at its best, it can create the necessary openness, curiosity, and clarity that colleagues need to engage and contribute to an innovative organisation.
What would be the first thing in communication you would address in your workplace?