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13 May 2021
Fixing new communication norms in today’s hybrid workplace
Digital media consumptionTalent, skills, HR
A shift from the office to home work, physical isolation and the preponderance of digital platforms means there are no agreed rules and norms around digital communications.
Why it matters
Time-pressed marketing teams need to establish clear communication norms. The old, unwritten office protocols, often based on physical signs – someone in front of a screen wearing headphones, for example, was clearly saying “do not disturb … please” – no longer apply, says digital teamwork expert Erica Dhawan writing in the Harvard Business Review.
Establish a hierarchy. The use of Instant Messenger, for example, could indicate a time-sensitive or urgent message (but limit the numbers involved and the length of any conversation).
Email can provide timely and directional, important information, and to ensure there’s a record of a conversation, or to direct someone to an online source for more information.
Indicate urgency in the subject line, but don’t use email when an immediate response is needed.
Teams can arrive at a hierarchy by brainstorming, asking such questions as: “how long is too long for an IM?” or “when is it ever appropriate to text someone?”
Make the rules stick – Dhawan suggests channel advocates encourage compliance with shout-outs for those who adhere best and light-hearted call outs via hashtags for those who don't comply.
The big idea
“Having a detailed guide will help ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page and has the same expectations — regardless of who is working from where” – Erica Dhawan, teamwork and collaboration expert and author of Digital Body Language.