Working remotely has been a constant for most of us lately. When the pandemic first hit the world in early 2020, we all had to get used to working from home, moving meetings from meeting rooms to online calls and communicating fully online instead of face to face. But the trend of working remotely was already there before the pandemic. And with an increasing amount of people seeing the advantages of it, it’s here to stay. But how do you communicate with a fully remote workforce?
Hopin, an online company founded in Australia in 2019, started working on a software allowing online events with up to 100,000 people months ahead of COVID. The reason: An allergic reaction forced founder Johnny Boufarhat in 2015 to fully isolate himself indoors. His condition kept him from travelling to conferences or meetings, and he figured he might not be the only one. When the pandemic started, Hopin counted 8 employees. For obvious reasons, the company grew significantly since then and now has almost 1,000 employees. Staying true to their core, their entire workforce is working remotely and located all over the world, serving customers in their own time zone, and working in international teams.
Working fully remotely has more advantages than being able to help a customer straight away and in their own language. The pool of talent a company can fish from grows exponentially as you can recruite all over the world. Suddenly, you can offer equal opportunities to those located outside of the big knowledge hubs as long as they have a stable internet connection. And you can finally offer your employees the ultimate freedom of working from wherever they want to be, as long as they stick to the plan. Combining working and travelling has never been this easy.
However, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Building relationships with your team is harder when you never meet in person. You cannot quickly drop by somebody’s desk to ask a question. You’ll need to figure out which meetings really need to be meetings, and which ones could be an email to avoid everybody sitting in unproductive meetings all the time. And as a manager, you might need to adapt your working hours from time to time to be able to check in with people in different time zones.
Adapting internal communication to a remote workforce
As Vice President of Global Sales, that’s something Javier Ortega Estrada had to learn to work with when he first joined Hopin. He reinvented his idea of internal communication to make it work and grow his team. “As a company working remotely, you need to have a clear purpose. Otherwise, things will go wrong.”, he says. “At Hopin, we had that from the start. But we needed to figure out lots of things. How to communicate with each other, for example. Or how to organize our information so nothing gets lost. Imagine you are in Australia, wanting to help a customer to sign a deal, but you have an important question. All your colleagues are asleep, so you’ll need to know where to find that particular piece of information.”
Hopin got creative to keep their employees all over the world engaged: Next to the traditional communication channels, they started to use an automated system that schedules calls with random colleagues to get to know each other better. But more importantly, they didn’t make internal communication a one-way road: “You cannot force people to spend time together, but you can give them room for innovation and creativity. And you can remind yourself in the beginning of every meeting that it’s okay to pause for a second and talk about something more personal than business as usual.”
The company also found a new way to celebrate holiday parties and milestones together. And they help their employees to create the ideal workspace wherever they are. “Offices are designed to be productive there, but peoples’ homes usually aren’t. So, we help them to create a space they can be productive in without taking their work into their private lives too much.”
Key Success Factors for outstanding communication
After almost two years in the middle of a global pandemic and with people working from home more structurally than ever, it needs more than a quick brainstorm to reach an increasingly remote workforce. It’s key to come up with a long-term strategy to make sure everybody is on board, both people who do come back to the office and those who don’t. Hopin introduced Key Success Factors for outstanding communication that help them to make sure everybody gets the message and walks into the same direction:
Being clear about what the core message of the communication needs to be
Being conscious about the right timing to reach everybody within the company
Making internal communication interactive rather than communicating top down
These Key Success Factors help the teams to stick together and make it work remotely.
Learn more about how to communicate to a fully remote workforce and how Hopin makes it work in the episode of our podcast OutsideIn. Need help to make sure to reach your increasingly remote workforce with every message? Get in touch! We’re happy to help and find a strategy that works for you and your employees.
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