Jason Downes, MD of Powwownow, discusses how HR managers can improve communication in the office
A quiet office can be a sign of an efficient workforce – but it can also mean people aren’t communicating effectively. Each workplace is built from collaboration but how can we break the curse of the email and talk to one another instead?
The Death of Small Talk campaign from Powwownow explores how we can revitalise office chatter and forge connections between co-workers. Below are reasons why employee’s should communicate better and what gets in the way of collaborations.
Why employees need better communication
The only way that colleagues will be more approachable in the workplace is by having a comfortable atmosphere in the office, this can be helped by good working relationships. Work (and non-work) related chat is important for workplace morale.
According to a US study by SHRM, 88% of workers said having good relationships with co-workers was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their overall job satisfaction. Feeling at ease about being able to talk to co-workers can help employees feel comfortable at work.
89% of these workers said teamwork was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when it comes to how they feel about work.
This shows that communication and relationships are key to being happy at work and employee’s can work to their full ability.
How to comfortably talk to your colleagues
There are many small things you can do to open up new opportunities for communication in the workplace.
Social media and the workplace
According to a study by Pew Research Centre, 51% of workers who use social media platforms for work-related purposes say it helps them to get to know their co-workers. Beyond the social benefits, 56% believe it has an overall positive effect and aids performance.
While always remaining professional, consider making the effort to connect with co-workers over social media. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram might be too personal, but Twitter and LinkedIn can be great places to share content with like-minded people you work with.
Make the most of technology
While technology can be a communication killer, it can also allow people to connect in new ways. Oxford Economics and Virgin Business’ 2015 study revealed digital technology helps 43% of businesses create a more engaged workforce, and 60% say it helps with better collaboration.
Workers can look for new ways to use technology to collaborate with co-workers. If you work remotely, consider using video conferencing more often. Speaking ‘face-to-face’ can be a daunting prospect sometimes, but can also it make it easier to communicate efficiently and will allow you to feel more involved with those you work with. The more you do it, the less daunting it will become.
Step away from your computer
According to Ofcom, of the collective time that the UK spends reading and sending emails, 77% belongs to people at work. Desk-based workers own most of the share, at 80%, compared to 20% of non-desk workers.
So, what can you do?
Stop emailing colleagues because it’s easier and start to speak to people face-to-face. We can all fall into a rut where it seems easier to keep to ourselves, especially in a busy or new workplace. But, while it can be tempting to just ‘put it in an email’, motivating yourself to go over to your colleague’s desk can make for a more efficient and enjoyable experience at work.
Next time you’re writing an email to a co-worker, ask yourself if it would be better to simply speak to them instead. It may be a bit nerve-wracking if they’re not someone you usually work with, but chances are they’ll appreciate the effort, and you may find you get things done a bit quicker, too!
By using technology and taking initiative, you can begin to create a workplace environment where it feels natural for people to talk to each other. Technology and social media can help, but at the end of the day it’s about being willing to break the silence and make a little small talk.