Good, seamless communication is at the core of any business. And given the current situation, this has never been truer. With many of us now working from our own homes, all the communication we have with our co-workers, supervisors, bosses, and even clients is now virtual.
With so many different communication and collaboration tools available to stay in touch and plan work with our co-workers, things cans seem a little daunting, hectic, and scattered. Sending off emails, firing off Slack messages, updating cards on Trello boards, and joining Zoom calls are things that many of us now do on the daily—all while we’re having to get on with our own work and manage challenges at home.
The Overcommunication Challenge
Unfortunately, this is the way it has to be. Remote working has changed the way we’re communicating, and it’s more likely to stick around than not.
We no longer have the benefit of peripheral communication that comes with the office environment. We can’t listen in to conversations happening nearby, we can’t see whether fellow co-workers are stressed out, and we can’t drop by another team and see how a project is coming along.
It’s therefore essential to use any and every tool that’s available to us to communicate. And more often than not, we’re overcommunicating. There are some obvious downsides to this, including the distraction of seven different apps all pinging at you and delivering notifications and the feeling of being pressured by constant messages.
But when working remotely from the home, it’s crucial to communicate more often than you normally would, and far more often than you think you should.
How to Overcommunicate Effectively
When you’re working remotely, overcommunicating is always better than making assumptions or taking risks that would have been avoided.
That being said, just because you can fire off a quick Slack message doesn’t mean you should. You never know what situation the person on the other end is in. They could be having a slow day, or they could be up to their eyeballs in unanswered emails.
That’s why if you’re going to communicate—and as we mentioned, you kind of have to right now—you need to do it right.
1. Know What Overcommunication Is and Isn’t
Be mindful that overcommunication isn’t the same as oversharing or overloading somebody with information each time you interact with them. The goal of overcommunication isn’t to bombard your colleagues with dozens of emails, each of which contains an encyclopedic review of each element of whatever project you’re communicating about.
Rather, overcommunicating is about regularly delivering information that’s important, straight to the point, and sent at the right time and to the right person(s).
2. Keep Things Simple
On the topic of being straight to the point, make sure that your messages are simple and straightforward. This goes for both regular employees and managers. When there’s a lot of information flying around, you don’t want to overload your messages with detail. If you do this, you run the risk of your recipient getting lost among it all or simply not reading what you’ve got to say.
By focusing what points and information you want to communicate to someone, your message will be a lot clearer, more impactful, and likely to get read in its entirety.
3. Check in Frequently but Quickly
A lot of people are (understandably) getting quite fed up with Zoom. With several Zoom-based meetings per day, plus all the headaches that come with trying to hold meetings and check-ins virtually, it’s a word that has many employees rolling their eyes and sighing with despair.
To that extent, focus less on long, drawn-out meetings with vast agendas and instead choose shorter, focused, and quick check-ins either at an individual level. Save the larger Zoom meetings for when you’ve got something important and detailed to say that everybody needs to be in on.
At the start of a new project, for example, it’s obvious that a Zoom meeting will be the appropriate way to kick things off. However, when you need to check in with a couple of people and find out how they’re getting on, one-on-one quick check-ins are a far better choice.
4. Use Different Communication Methods
As we mentioned earlier, there are lots of different methods, tools, and channels that you can use to communicate with one another. Each of these channels will have their own advantages, disadvantages, and ideal use cases, so don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit and use different ones.
For example, email-based communication can be reserved for messages that are more sensitive, important, and official. In contrast, Slack can also be used for some official and sensitive work communications, but it can also be used to chat with colleagues in a more “social” setting than email or to check in with people and find out how they’re getting on.
Other tools, such as our org chart tool Organimi, can be used to collaborate seamlessly across teams with high-quality visuals. Organizational charts, projects, and workflows, among other things, can all be mapped out and seen in real-time by those using them. These pair well with other organizational tools such as Kanban boards (e.g. Trello) and spreadsheets.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Do It
One of the “golden rules” for communication is relaying information when it’s relevant, and the same goes for overcommunication. If you’ve got something important to say, say it. Don’t wait and hold back just because you already sent out an email or message a couple of minutes ago.
Sharing information as it comes to light and is evolving is crucial for a timely and appropriate response. Even if the information isn’t mission-critical or a slight delay won’t make a difference, it’s still good practice (and courteous) to pass it on when you’ve got it.
Remember, clear and open overcommunication helps to keep your colleagues in the know and on track.