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Hybrid working: digital communication and collaboration
Hybrid working: digital communication and collaboration

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3.3 Inclusive communication and collaboration

While it is important to ensure that our communications and collaborations are meaningful and engaging, it is essential that they also be inclusive. Where possible, reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure that those who may be neurodiverse or with a disability, impairment or health condition can participate.

Activity 12 Making hybrid working inclusive

Timing: 15 minutes

Read the article ‘Making hybrid working inclusive’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (MacLachlan, 2022), and watch the video within it. Make notes on the key areas of concerns. Hybrid working might not be as inclusive as first thought, and consider your own experiences. You may wish to make notes in the box below.

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Prior to using communication and collaboration tools and physical meeting spaces, check in advance in case participants have any access requirements. Your organisation may have its own guidelines, and depending on the technology you use, it is sensible and considerate to familiarise yourself with how accessible the tools are and learn to use the functionality designed to improve accessibility.

Examples of steps you might take to ensure your meeting is more inclusive and make reasonable adjustments are:

  • Record the meeting and provide the transcript.
  • Schedule breaks.
  • Provide material in advance of the meeting.
  • If your video meeting platform has a closed captions functionality, make people aware of how to use it.
  • If someone’s network is poor, suggest using audio only.

If you frequently chair or facilitate online meetings, develop your skills in engaging with others. Some useful tips for engaging with others are:

  • Set expectations, such as cameras and microphones on/off, raising hands to notify you wish to speak.
  • Learn how to listen actively.
  • Ask questions in response to what someone has said – a really good way to develop this is to interview a colleague and summarise what they have told you.
  • Make eye contact. This is actually easier in remote meetings if you both have your cameras on, as you tend to look directly at people for longer.
  • Tell stories to help bring context and create a mental visual reference.
  • Be enthusiastic and animated. If you are passionate about the subject, others will be more interested in what you are saying.
  • Bring others into the conversation, ask people’s opinions and give people time to speak.
  • Think about the collaboration tools you can use to provide opportunities for all to contribute and engage – such as reactions, breakout rooms, raising hands, and so on.

Activity 13 You say tomato, I say tomato

Timing: 15 minutes

I struggle with pronunciation. One of my family’s favourite past times is trying to get me to say the name of a chocolate bar, ‘Toblerone’, which I really can’t pronounce! If you are interested, the video below will help!

How to Pronounce Toblerone? (CORRECTLY) (Miquel, 2020)

When it comes to pronouncing names, it can be a sensitive topic to approach both for the person whose name is continually mispronounced and the person who mispronounces it. While we are often happy correcting people if they do something incorrectly or asking for help if we don’t know something, when it comes to names, we often say nothing.

Read the article ‘How to get someone’s name right if it’s unfamiliar to you’ (The Conversation, 2020) and consider how you can support those who struggle with pronunciation.

Digital accessibility and inclusion

Digital accessibility and inclusion is a broad topic which we do not cover in detail in this course. However, it is important to understand how you can be more inclusive and what responsibilities you have to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that you and your organisation are creating an accessible and inclusive environment.

You organisation should have guidance that you can refer to, and you may wish to explore the following resources, which provide further information:

The courses Hybrid working: organisation development and Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion within the ‘Supporting hybrid working and digital transformation’ collection explore digital accessibility and inclusion further.

In the next section we will focus on how you can communicate and collaborate as a team. First, though, a reminder that you need to consider security, safety and governance, which are covered in more depth in the Hybrid working: skills for digital transformation course.