By Carrie Dagenhard (Tech Writer)
How good is your team’s digital communication etiquette? Here’s a quick and easy guide to digital communication etiquette for IT & MSP customer support teams to help your team improve communications on any digital medium.
Most of us have been working from home for at least a year and, by now, you’d think we’d all be experts in digital communication. But while many organizations have invested huge chunks of their budgets in tools and technology to support a fully remote workforce, few have taken the time to educate their employees on the best practices of digital communication etiquette.
Unfortunately, this can have widespread consequences. For example, poor digital communication can thwart productivity, create unnecessary friction between employees and teams, hamper engagement, and drive poor customer experiences — all of which can negatively impact your bottom line.
So what can senior decision-makers and team leaders do to mitigate these challenges and create better digital experiences?
Here’s what you can begin doing today to foster better digital communication etiquette across your organization:
Embrace Asynchronous Meetings
Enduring “a meeting that should have been an email” is such a common occurrence that it’s become a meme.
We know meetings cost us dearly (analyst Jonathan Spira estimates interruptions cost the US economy a staggering $1 trillion, according to an article for The Washington Post). Yet, we still can’t seem to break away from those traditional, real-time conversations.
Enter the asynchronous meeting.
This form of communication is perfect when you need a response, but it doesn’t have to be immediate. (Like, for example, a team standup.) So, instead of scheduling a call, waiting for everyone to join, enduring ten minutes of small talk, and then sitting around awkwardly while someone gives far too many irrelevant details about their current project, you can hold your “meeting” on a tool like Slack.
Simply launch a discussion by asking, “What are you working on today?” or “What are you having trouble with this week?” and let employees respond when they reach a natural pause in their daily workflow. Then, if someone needs more attention, you can handle it one-on-one.
End Virtual Meetings on Time
Of course, not all meetings can be asynchronous — and regular facetime with your team is critical to keeping employees engaged. But, unfortunately, virtual meetings tend to run long and eat up precious productivity time.
In addition to being more mindful of which video calls need to happen versus which can be handled through another channel, it’s essential you respect employees’ time by ending meetings on schedule. Or, better yet, aim to end them early and give everyone a few minutes back in their day.
Here are three tips to keep virtual meetings on track:
-Never schedule a meeting without a concrete agenda and goal
-Don’t invite people unless you absolutely need them involved
-Set a “warning” timer, so you know when it’s time to begin wrapping up
Beware of Your Tone
It’s not always easy to convey your tone via text. When you can’t hear someone’s voice, see their facial expression, or observe their body language, it’s easy to misconstrue their intention. That’s why, when communicating via email, text messages, or chat, it’s crucial you consider your tone and strive to overcome any potential misconceptions.
Here are a few common text communication faux pas that can alienate your team:
Using Caps Lock For Emphasis
Some people have fallen into the trap of using all-caps to call attention to critical pieces of information. But, for a reader, this can come off as combative and threatening.
Excessive Or Non-Existent Punctuation
A lack of punctuation can appear careless and disinterested, while too much punctuation (like, for example, unnecessary ellipses or exclamation points) can make your tone sound passive-aggressive.
Failing To Include Greetings
It only takes a second or two to add a greeting. Making sure to start each new discussion with a simple “Good morning” or “Hi everyone” shows respect and consideration.
Remember to lead by example. The way you talk to your team will trickle down into how they interact with each other and your customers.
Be Considerate of Time Zones and Work-Life Balance
We all know it’s best practice to avoid bombarding one another with messages outside of work hours — but when sending a direct message or scheduling meetings, are you also taking into account your recipients’ time zones? Always consult the team calendar and be careful not to schedule calls during other people’s lunchtime. If you have an urgent question after-hours, don’t hold it against them if they take a while to respond.
Over the past year, we’ve blurred the line between work and life more than ever. By setting boundaries and respecting the boundaries others create, you can help your team stave off burnout and boost employee satisfaction.
Digital communication is constantly evolving, and as the next generation enters the workforce, it will undoubtedly change even further. But one constant will always remain: respectful interactions are vital to creating a productive working environment. By making an effort to perfect your digital communication etiquette, you can help cultivate a more empathetic, considerate team culture both on and offline.