The desired for years ability to be autonomous and flexible became a reality overnight when Covid pandemic forced companies to allow employees to work remotely.

While being able to work from home may seen as ultimate dream for many, some studies found that while it may have boosted employee’s satisfaction, working remotely also negatively and significantly impacted a key performance indicator – a dialogue.

People are more than twice as likely to abound speaking up about concerns with their colleagues and managers virtually than when they worked together in person. In the past year, this silence caused more unresolved issues which harmed both the employee and organisation they work for. Top frustrations for remote employees include colleagues and managers not following through with commitments, making changes to projects unilaterally or without warning, and given half-hearted commitments to their priorities.

When these types of concerns and frustrations appeared before the pandemic, many respondents say they let the problem drag on for a few weeks before trying to address the issue. But in the past year, number of people who think that doubled and they do admit to letting their concerns go unresolved for weeks before saying anything. These unresolved issues led to pretty harmful outcomes for both the employee and the organisation, and the most common are:

  • More stress
  • More procrastination and time wasting
  • Lower morale
  • Lower productivity

Researchers comment that these factors are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the negative impact of organisational silence. Speaking up and establishing a culture of dialogue is essential to ensuring employees feel able to address and solve individual, cultural and organisational challenges. Just consider the impact and importance of the conversations people are currently avoiding in a virtual workplace.

The top five crucial conversations people are struggling to hold with their manager or colleagues include:

  • Poor performance
  • Behaviour concerns or violations
  • Perceived bias and inequities
  • Failure to meet deadlines, budgets, project specs, etc.
  • Concerns about team strategy

If these crucial conversations are not occurring, leaders need to step up.

How to hold these crucial conversations when working remotely.

Here are some tips that leaders use to facilitate dialogue with their remote teams. While the fundamentals of communications may be the same, different considerations should be taken for remote dialogue.

  • Invite dialogue. All it takes to start a dialogue is to invite it. Start with asking people on how they are doing, what are their concerns, what you could do better to support them. Absolutely do not mistake silence for contentment as often it’s just the opposite.
  • Do not assume. What we thing can be crystal clear for us but it can be understood differently or even be unknown to someone else. Make sure you seek for feedback and get confirmation from others that they understand your communication.
  • Over communicate. The more you tell, the more you strengthen your relationship and the less likely misunderstandings will arise, or even when they do appear, it will be easier to resolve them thanks to the relationship you have already established.
  • Use the voice. Writing an email or message can sometimes sounds like the easiest solution but when you do it exclusively, that simply isn’t enough. All these face to face meetings or phone calls can help prevent misunderstandings and lend a personal touch.
  • Determine what you really want. Before bringing up your concern, look at the long-term goal you want to achieve, not only for yourself but for the other person and the organisation.
  • Show your care. Make time during your online meetings to have small talk and build up personal connections. When speaking up about an issue, show your co-worker you care about them and their feelings and explain your motives up front.

Are you struggling with communication issues? Have you already applied some of these tactics to overcome a problem? Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

All the best,


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *