5.1 Communication in a hybrid working world
In the workplace, developing effective communication skills will enable you as an individual to interact more effectively with colleagues and others, as well as improving your chances of gaining promotion or securing new employment. This is true whether you are based in a large, open-plan office or working from your home or another remote location.
There is also significant evidence, from the 1970s onwards, to support a link between effective communication in the workplace and enhanced job satisfaction. Clampit and Girard (1993) analysed the construct of communication satisfaction and concluded that:
Communication satisfaction factors provide an effective way to distinguish between employees who are in the upper and lower parts of the spectrum in terms of both job satisfaction and self-estimates of productivity.
More recently, a study of nurses in paediatric intensive care units – a particularly high-pressure working environment – also concluded that:
There is a relationship between effective communication and job satisfaction that needs to be of a greater importance for organizations to achieve a higher success.
If those around you are communicating effectively and you have a clear sense of what’s expected of you and how you can contribute in the workplace, it makes sense that you are likely to feel more satisfied; therefore it has a positive impact on your wellbeing.
Effective communication gives clear benefits to the individual, but there are significant benefits for the organisation too. If communication is poor, reduced job satisfaction and productivity can have a significant impact on the business. For example, when 4,000 people were surveyed by Think Feel Know Coaching, 46% said that they were ‘unsure of what was being asked of them by their line manager when given tasks’ (Woods, 2010). The same study estimated that up to 40 minutes per individual per day were wasted because of this. Using these figures, an average company with 1,000 employees could have as many as 83 people doing nothing every day (Woods, 2010).
When there is uncertainty or change within an organisation, employees can feel ill-informed about the impact on their roles. If their concerns are not addressed and vital information is not communicated, staff morale will be affected. This can lead to a lack of trust and engagement, which can result in low productivity and absenteeism.
For an organisation to embrace effective communication, every individual, from senior managers to new trainees, must play their part.
Sometimes miscommunication is the problem. The video in the next activity suggests some simple rules for avoiding this.
Activity 10 Miscommunication
Watch the following TedEd video on miscommunication.
Now use the box below to note your own experiences of miscommunication.
What impact do you think the hybrid working practices in place since the emergence of COVID-19 (e.g. meetings via video call) have had on miscommunication?
The video mentions four practices that can improve interactions and avoid miscommunication:
- Recognise that there is a difference between passive hearing and active listening.
- Listen with your eyes and ears as well as your gut.
- Take time to understand the perspective of the person/people you are talking to.
- Try to be aware of your own perceptual filters.
The next time you are discussing a difficult issue with colleagues, try to put these ideas into practice. See if it makes a difference.
Throughout your life you continually change how you speak and what you speak about. Each situation you find yourself in will require a slightly different method of communication. You’ve just reflected on situations when communication faltered and resulted in misunderstanding. Did any of your experiences with miscommunication involve colleagues of a different generation to you? If so, the next section may help to explain that.