In the final instalment of our April remote worker series, we’re looking at the power of communication apps and social media – and how each might help or hinder your homeworkers.
If you would like to learn more about managing a successful remote team and the tools that can help bring your employees together, take a look at Ambitions Travel Training ‘Managing Home Workers’ and ‘Successful Working From Home For Travel Employees’ courses, designed to facilitate a positive and productive home working environment.
Even before the remote worker revolution of 2020, communication apps for office workers, like Slack and Teams, were on the rise. The goal back then was to ‘save the inbox’ from the hundreds of daily mundane emails about Sarah from accounts’ lost bank card or the weekly reminder not to leave out-of-date food in the office fridge.
The apps also offered an all-in-one communications service; in addition to instant messaging, they came kitted out with many other features, including video calling and file sharing. This presented an opportunity for businesses to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
However, no one could have foreseen how crucial these apps would become when we were forced to work from home over the pandemic lockdowns. Teams and Slack became critical day-to-day business tools and one of our few social outlets. Teams quizzes, social gatherings and even Christmas parties became the norm.
And now, in our post-pandemic world, where flexible working is still an option for most employees, these tools are as popular as ever. While communication apps are undoubtedly very useful, this form of communication can come with some significant pitfalls that managers should be mindful of:
Although some may see Facebook and Facebook groups as old technology compared to all the features that come with communication apps, they can have several advantages over Slack and Teams regarding employee boundaries and clear communication.
The main advantage for remote workers is that they have the flexibility around when they can engage in conversations. On Facebook groups, an author starts a discussion and leaves it open for others to contribute as and when they please. Instant responses are not expected. This alone can help reduce overwhelm and stress and allow employees to focus on the task at hand.
Facebook groups also allow information to be organised in a more logical way. Single discussions around each topic are grouped together and easy to read. This can help avoid miscommunication and stop information from getting lost.
There may be concerns about blurring the lines between employees’ work and personal lives, given that Facebook is a popular social media platform. However, this is easily avoided, as Facebook allows users to set specific notifications for each group they are a member of – they can decide if and when they would like to be notified of new activity. Group members should also be reassured that they don’t need to be connected on Facebook to other group members to contribute. If the group is closed, which it absolutely should be, their posts on the group can’t be seen by anyone else on Facebook.
Communication apps have undoubtedly been a lifeline to some whilst working remotely; however, the downsides when it comes to employee mental health and well-being should not be ignored.
Whilst there is a place for this communication style, the boundaries and clarity available with Facebook groups is something that many burned-out, stressed remote employees would benefit from.
We’ve collaborated with Online Travel Training in hosting our essential soft skills (not destination and product) eLearning courses. If you would like to learn more about managing remote employee boundaries, take a look at our Ambitions Travel Training course for remote managers – ‘Managing Home Workers’. We also have our ‘Successful Working From Home For Travel Employees’ course designed to help your employees with the issues and stresses that come with homeworking.
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The last few years have been a revolution for communication apps like Slack and Teams, but how helpful are these tools, and could Facebook groups offer a less-intrusive alternative?