Remote work has become the norm for many organizations across the globe because it can benefit employers as well as their workers. Not everyone is convinced about clear benefits of remote work because there are some downsides they mention, but overall, influential sources support remote and hybrid work. Most workers say they welcome remote work mode, especially knowledge workers such as public relations and communication professionals. However, one struggle that teams often have to face with remote workers and a combination of remote and in-house (hybrid) workers is internal communication. This article explains how remote PR teams can improve internal communication within their own team, and overall for their organization.
It can be difficult to stay connected with remote workers at the same pace and reach as in-office employees, no matter how advanced your technology is. However, there are often ways to improve internal communications and boost success for your internal communication team. A greater understanding of those improvements and knowing how to implement them will boost your business and foster a better workplace environment whether your employees are at home or in the office.
So, how can you build a cohesive and communicative PR team with remote workers, and why is it important to do so, in the first place?
The global disruptions caused by Covid and the invasion of Ukraine to the economic environment have obliged many PR professionals to work at home or in hybrid mode. Teams spread out the most have had to adapt the most. For instance, the headquarters of one PR team has 3 members based in the US, with two other team members based in London, one in Japan and two in Latin America. Plus the role of supervising a PR agency in London and one in London. Coordination complications!
Team and inter-departmental communication, collaboration and coordination are key to being successful – because public relations regularly rates in the top 10 most stressful jobs (usually between 5th and 8th) around the world. Therefore keeping track of tasks and workload is essential. In PR, no two days are the same. Things move fast, and we often need to deal with urgent PR needs at short notice. Nevertheless, it is important to balance long-term priorities with urgent demands on our time.
Some of the biggest challenges reported in Muck Rack interviews about remote PR teams are time management, maintaining connection throughout the team, excitement, solid communication as well as prevention of team burnout. A big challenge is making up for the lack of informal office drop-ins to chat with fellow team members.
One of the challenges has been onboarding – bringing in a new team member remotely. To overcome this problem, online meet-and-greets can be arranged with other teams to share a little bit about their work and themselves. That way, new arrivals to the PR team are able to put names to faces to other employees they may not interact with regularly.
Some of the tips shared by Muck Rack interviewees about managing a remote team and doing PR remotely are discussed below. You don’t need to be a manager to suggest some of these within your own PR team.
Muck Rack uses these tools to keep in touch:
For PR professionals, internal communication can also boost both productivity and creativity. When everyone is on the same page, they can use their strengths to come up with fresh ideas and move projects forward. That’s especially effective during meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Effective internal communication is essential for the success of any organization. It keeps everyone informed, allows for a more cohesive workflow, and ensures that everyone has the same information no matter which department they’re in or which project(s) they’re working on. In addition, good internal communication can also improve the workplace environment for your remote employees, with benefits like:
It’s important for every employee to experience these benefits, but you should pay special attention to ensure your remote workers are just as in tune with what’s happening in their specific work area. Not only is it better for your organizational performance, but it will foster a better overall environment no matter where they’re working.
What can you do to streamline effective communication when you have employees working across the country – or even across the world?
For starters, have a reputable communication tool in place. Platforms like Slack are great for keeping everyone connected and encouraging discussions. You can have larger Slack channels while breaking down smaller groups for specific teams, people working on certain projects, etc. Being able to share information quickly between these groups will keep things running smoothly.
Next, make sure you’re staying in touch with everyone through weekly meetings. A short meeting gives everyone a chance to give professional updates. Do it at the beginning of each week on Zoom or the equivalent, and it will be easier for your teams to set goals for the next few days. Scheduling meetings earlier in the week makes Thursdays and Fridays feel a bit lighter. Do it at the end of the week and everyone can head into the weekend with a feeling of accomplishment. Even better if you try to have no meetings on Fridays.
Find out your employees’ preferred communication channels
Open communication is essential when it comes to productivity and reducing human error. People make mistakes — it’s a part of life. However, people should always have a goal to reduce human error in the workplace as much as possible. By prioritizing communication, your employees will be more likely to ask questions, express concerns, and receive clarification about their tasks. They can also ask for help when they need it, reducing the likelihood of human error, and improving productivity across the board.
Check in regularly with the team and 1:1 to personally see how everyone is feeling and ensure prompt help if anyone is feeling overwhelmed.
It’s not uncommon for remote employees having to face issues like:
With those problems in mind, you can shift your perspective on what it means to improve internal communication. It’s about more than just making sure every job gets done. In addition to encouraging communication for productivity, use it for the betterment of your remote employees. Check in with them often, encourage frequent breaks, and a better work-life balance.
Burnout. A high risk in our stressful profession is burnout. People working under flexible, hybrid or remote policies often do feel more grateful to their employers. That feeling of indebtedness can lead some remote employees to keep pressing ahead with their work until they run out of fuel. Frequently, it’s the employer intensifying the workload with requests that can’t be achieved within given timeframes. Remote employees are tougher to diagnose with burnout because others can’t see changes in their personality on a day-to-day basis, so ensure there is a process of checking in and being aware of the signs.
Making time for communication is a remote work hack that can make your remote team more likely to feel connected with the internal working parts of the business — especially if you have a hybrid operation.
In order to better understand the impact of distributed work, the Google People Innovation Lab team sent out a survey to 5000+ Googlers and held focus groups with about a hundred employees across the globe. They measured well-being, performance, and connectedness (among other things) and on how to ensure that those things remain consistent, even if your team is spread out across the world. They consolidated their findings and best practices for distributed work in a set of playbooks to share with Googlers and other companies, too. Here are their top three tips for making distributed work feel more connected and enjoyable:
In its Playbooks, Google also addressed the fact that “building and maintaining relationships is important for collaboration across distance”. “A little rapport goes a long way. Create opportunities to get to know your distributed teammates just like you would if they sat in the next cube over.”
Here are the Google tips for getting talking:
Internal communication in today’s remote-friendly world is more important than ever. While technology has made it easier to stay connected with employees across the world, human connection will always be what matters. Keep these ideas in mind to improve internal communications with your remote teams, and create a company culture where everyone feels heard, understood, and valued. Not only are you likely to see greater success from an organizational standpoint, but you’ll enjoy the benefits of happy, healthy employees who aren’t struggling with burnout or confusion.
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
Given the information and communication technologies available, you can foster business communication through a number of tools. Among them are
Remote work has become the norm for many organizations across the globe because it can benefit employers as well as