If all or a portion of your workforce is mobile, communication can be a real challenge. There may be little or no opportunity for face to face engagement. Unfortunately, if you aren’t proactive in keeping communication on track, things can fall apart. You have to establish clear expectations for communicating and provide the tools your mobile teams need to comply with.
The Consequences of Poor Communication
When communication falls short, problems can pile up quickly. You could find yourself contending with incomplete work or quality issues, billing problems, and needless costs. Also, mobile employees are in danger of feeling disconnected from the organization if you aren’t in regular contact with them. That can impact morale and productivity. Even customer relationships can suffer.
Good Mobile Communication is Challenging but Possible
It’s also very important for the reasons mentioned above, and more. Whether your mobile workforce is distributed across a single community, state, region, or nation, it’s possible for you to create a communication protocol that works for everyone. Even better, new technologies have made it so that staying in touch with your team is easier than it has been before. The key is to implement both the policies and the technology required to ensure that both internal and external communication happens as you need it to.
As you can see, good communication is essential for your organization. It improves safety, productivity, your staff’s morale, and reveals potential issues sooner than later.
Now, how do you make that happen? Check out these five ways to improve communication.
1. Build Connections
It’s easier than you might imagine for field employees to feel a bit disconnected. They are away from the office and missing out on the small social interactions that help employees to bond with one another. They might also miss staff meetings and other events. And now, in the wake of the global pandemic, it’s important to take action to counterbalance that.
For sure, with the restrictions, brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to organize in-office meetings and other events. But there’s still something you can do:
- Create an online ‘water cooler conversations’ chat. It’s important for your employees to talk about something other than work. As real-life water cooler conversations are not possible right now, create an online chat room for your employees to have these conversations, because they help them bond and connect with each other.
- Organize Zoom parties. While quarantining at home, your employees still can enjoy spending time communicating with each other during Zoom parties. For instance, you can organize a Watch Party and watch a movie together with your employees.
- Visit an online museum tour. Right now, many museums around the world created free virtual tours for anyone to visit. This can be a great way for your employees to talk about something other than work and connect with each other.
It can be quite hard for field workers to stay away from the office and their colleagues for a long time. But, thanks to technology, they can have opportunities to effectively communicate with each other without having to leave the house.
2. Write Clear Policies
It’s easy for anybody to drop the ball on communication when there are no clear guidelines. That’s why it’s important that you create clear expectations of what you expect in terms of daily communication. Here are some example guidelines:
- Contact dispatch before starting work in the morning, and at the end of the day.
- Notify field supervisor by text or email at the start and end of each job.
- Call dispatch if the customer is unavailable or if the job site cannot be accessed.
- Return phone calls from the home office, dispatch, or field supervisor within 60 minutes.
- Complete and send in status reports by the end of the day on Friday.
To make these policies most effective, put them in writing. Your communication protocols should have a prominent place with your other employee documents. Diana Adjadj, a writer at Trust My Paper, says, “Consider creating a full policy document on communication for every employee to access and learn. Then, create a portable document that contains pertinent information such as emergency contacts, and protocols to follow when field communication is necessary.”
3. Make it a Two-Way Conversation
It’s important that you work to foster a two-way conversation when interacting with your mobile workforce. There’s much more to communicating than simply dictating that they touch base at certain times, or upload job site data. Mobile employees should be told that their concerns, insights, and suggestions are just as valuable as those you receive from your in-house staff. By collecting regular feedback from them, you help to ensure that they feel as if their voices are heard. You’ll also gain unique insights into what your mobile teams need to work efficiently and productively.
4. Adopt Technology
Ask your mobile teams about roadblocks they experience when it comes to communicating with the home office. There’s a good chance that technology will be one of the issues they bring up. Fortunately, technology is also the best solution to those challenges. If you invest in the right communication tech, you will see improvements in missed calls, poor driving habits, and other miscommunications.
Keep in mind that a good technology solution will facilitate both active and passive communication.
For example, a task management tools, besides chat rooms for active communication, helps organize schedules, dispatch and manage tasks, ensure transparent interactions with the back office and keep your entire team updated.
At the same time, a multi-platform communication tool will include useful features such as file sharing, group chat, and complementary mobile apps.
5. Keep Them in the Loop
Only 17% of workers believe their direct line managers are good communicators. That number reflects the entire workforce. When you consider the communications challenges that mobile workers face, that number is probably higher. That’s why managers must be proactive. They can’t just make demands of mobile teams. They must also commit to communicating with mobile teams in order to keep them in the loop. This means sharing company news, providing clear explanations of policy changes, and giving regular feedback on performance. Without a dedicated effort to close communication gaps, mobile workers often feel as if they are the last to know important information.
A good communication strategy has multiple elements. These are clear policies, use of communication to foster a bond with the company and coworkers, information sharing, regular feedback, and technology that works. The best strategy will also combine both passive and active communication tech to provide the most accurate insights.
Author Bio: Nicolle Garrison is a content strategist and a writer at GrabMyEssay. When she isn’t writing about business and technology, she is providing valued essay writing help. It’s clear that she’s a passionate writer, eager to assist others. In her spare time, she enjoys tutoring students in English and working in the library.