The impact of the pandemic on the way we communicate at the office

Our colleague, Andrei Boldeanu (Service Delivery Manager – CGS Bucharest) talked to us about how the pandemic influenced the communication in the business environment, considering the evolution of working from home and shifting the focus from direct to online communication.

What are the main consequences (positive or negative) of the transition from direct to online communication?

Andrei Boldeanu:

Positive consequences: Facilitates more direct communication, no longer about the emotions of that person’s face-to-face confrontation. Greater freedom in approaching sensitive topics.

Negative consequences: Things can be misinterpreted, not having the full range of visual stimuli that complement communication.

Were people prepared for such a change?

Andrei Boldeanu: People have been mentally prepared for working from home for a long time, at a thought and wish level. People have not been prepared for the responsibilities / technicalities of working from home. When reality meets self-set expectations.

What would be the main advantages / disadvantages of online communication versus face-to-face communication?

Andrei Boldeanu: It is similar to the Customer Service experience in which selecting and positioning the right words have a greater weight in communication. Conversations are more efficient, and time is saved as there is no time lost with small talk with no added value.

How could online communication skills be improved? (tips & tricks)

Andrei Boldeanu: By using the etiquette rules similar to those in discussions with customers on the phone. Active listening, patience, careful choice of words and let’s not forget to smile because it is “heard” in the conversation.

How can the reduction of non-verbal communication elements, which, in ordinary communication, have an important role in “reading” the other, be categorized?

Andrei Boldeanu: As I mentioned earlier, if in the traditional communication the impact weight is 60-90% nonverbal and 10-40% verbal, in remote communication an important weight of nonverbal will have to be compensated with verbal elements and the following become critical:

  • Good control of tone of voice and volume

  • A more careful choice of the words we use

  • Better fluency and pace of conversation

  • A verbal delimitation of the topics discussed

In terms of reading or being read, I believe that in both traditional and virtual communication, we are responsible for reading what is needed from our expression, which means that if we have good control of these things in traditional communication, we can easily translate them into the virtual realm. I believe that the management team, being promoted and largely passed through the “Customer Service” process, will have these skills very well polished from successful interactions with people assisted on the phone. You just have to forget about these skills and smile.

Does the work context (working from home) influence the way we currently communicate at work?

Andrei Boldeanu: As long as we do not let the environment / external factors interfere in communication, I do not consider that there is a negative impact. There is a positive impact in the fact that feedback is received and applied faster because the person receiving it is in a comfort zone and does not feel “intimidated” by a meeting room. But I come back and say that the responsibility lies with the person delivering the message.

After the crisis, will the way we communicate in the office change?

Andrei Boldeanu: Always, the polishing of language skills brings benefits. For example, working in the field of customer service has shaped my verbal communication, which I choose to also use in my private life, improving my relationship with those close to me. To come back, the answer is “yes”. We improve our verbal communication skills, and on a potential return to the office we regain those of nonverbal communication, which, guaranteed, will make us better communicators.

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