Working remotely offers an incredible assortment of advantages to businesses willing to adapt. Instantly, your workers will skip the commute, reducing stress and freeing up time. They’ll have more flexibility and more control over their work environments, thereby increasing morale and productivity. And of course, without a central office, the business itself will save a ton of money. Here are the communication pain points for remote teams — and how to solve them.
What are the Issues Surrounding Remote Teams?
There are a few problems associated with remote work. Notably, one of the biggest issues is communication. When workers regularly see each other, they have a chance to bond, make small talk, and casually discuss work-related topics. They can meet in person, freely and easily.
By contrast, you’ll deal with a number of pain points related to your internal communication in a remote environment. Acknowledging and addressing these issues proactively is necessary if you want your organization to continue running smoothly.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest communication pain points in remote teams — and how to solve them.
Meetings have long been a staple of every business’s communication strategy, bringing people together for collaborative discussions, problem-solving, and brainstorming. Obviously, meetings haven’t gone away; virtual conferences have replaced them.
However, virtual conferences come with a share of problems that compromise the effectiveness of meetings overall. Bad connections, interruptions, and role ambiguity can all make a mess of a traditional meeting.
There are several easy ways to solve the virtual meeting problem:
- Meet less frequently. Remote work is highlighting just how unnecessary some meetings are. Consider cutting back on the number of meetings you hold. You might be surprised how little you miss them. Instead, send an email as an update, or ask for contributions over instant chat.
- Meet for shorter intervals. Similarly, try meeting for shorter spans of time. With a stricter time limit, you’ll likely be forced to communicate more clearly and concisely. You’ll also minimize the chances of extended interruptions.
- Invest in quality. Video conferences run much smoother when you’re using the right software, devices, and other equipment. Ensure everyone on the team has a decent internet connection, a good webcam and microphone, and a software platform that’s up to date. Most of your issues will disappear once these are in place.
- Prioritize monologues. Avoid interruptions by allowing people to speak individually, with all other participants on mute. Otherwise, even the best-organized meeting can quickly devolve into chaos.
Making Effective Use of Multiple Channels
Most teams have various channels to call upon for communication, such as email, SMS texts, phone calls, instant chats, video calls, and project management platforms. But how are you supposed to know which channel to use for which message?
Using these channels effectively and appropriately can be a major struggle. Here’s how to solve the issue:
- Create clear parameters for each medium. Start by making it clear which platforms should be used under which circumstances. For example, email is a great medium for one-sided, relatively short communication, but text chat is better for extended dialogue. Make a list of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Train and educate employees. Next, train your employees individually to use each platform. Most employees have an innate preference, and if left alone, they’ll try to use only that medium for all their communication. It’s important that all of your team members are using all available platforms to their best strengths.
- Keep your options to a minimum. It may seem like investing in lots of different communication options is the best approach; having access to more channels will give employees more options for communication. However, there’s such a thing as too much technology as well; too many platforms will make it confusing to find information and could overwhelm employees with notifications. Instead, keep the number of options to a minimum — and ask employees to respond from the channel they are contacted on. (e.g., don’t contact me on slack and then send a reply in outlook.)
Ensuring Collaboration Potential
Remote employees can’t collaborate directly the way they can in person; you can’t stop by a coworker’s desk or sketch out a brainstorming web on a whiteboard together. If you want more effective collaboration in a remote environment, you have to work for it:
- Create an availability plan. Make sure there’s a plan for when employees are available for communication. Depending on your work environment, that may mean mandating that employees work specified hours, like 9 to 5, or it could mean setting specific public availability times; for example, you might request that all employees are available from 2 to 4, but that they may otherwise work in whatever ways they see fit.
- Utilize collaborative platforms. Certain platforms make it easy for workers to collaborate. There are built-in tools that allow employees to contribute content to a document or file at the same time, even if multiple versions of the file exist simultaneously. There are multiple modes for contribution and communication, such as the ability to upload documents and comment. Utilize these platforms as much as you can.
- Encourage self-direction and autonomy. Oftentimes, the best way to get employees to work well together is to allow them to figure out what work styles work best for them. Encourage self-direction and autonomy to make this happen.
Developing Team Bonds
Teams with strong individual bonds to hold them together tend to be more productive, consistent, and more positive than their counterparts. But how can you encourage team bonding when your employees all live miles away from one another and never see each other face to face?
- Host virtual teambuilding events. Consider hosting a video chat where the team has dinner together, or play a game on a virtual conferencing platform. Just because you’re physically separated doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together.
- Encourage private communication threads. Your team members won’t be able to strike up casual conversations by the water cooler, but they should be encouraged to have similar conversations when possible. Strike up casual threads via email, chat, or other platforms to encourage employees to connect.
- Allow casual forms of interaction. Other casual forms of interaction can also be beneficial. For example, you can allow employees to award each other with digital badges or other forms of congratulatory sentiment. It goes a long way to support a more collaborative atmosphere.
Facilitate Ongoing Improvements
No organization will communicate perfectly, especially when scrambling to assemble a good remote work strategy on short notice. If you want to keep improving, you have to invest in ongoing positive changes.
These are some of the best ways to do it:
- Educate yourself. First, educate yourself. Go out of your way to read books and online articles about the nature of communication and how communication standards are changing due to increased remote work. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to proactively deal with issues and streamline efficiency improvements.
- Listen to other professionals’ approaches. It’s also useful to listen to how other professionals are handling remote work communication. For example, you can listen to podcasts from other entrepreneurs or network with peers and ask them about their communication habits. Are they using platforms you aren’t? Do they have a different communication philosophy? Consider experimenting with their approaches to see if they work for you.
- Collect feedback from the team. Finally, make sure you’re regularly collecting feedback from your team. Do your team members find certain platforms to be valuable and others to be unbearable? Do they have recommendations for how to communicate more efficiently in the future? Collect anonymously to encourage honesty, and take action on the points you find to be most insightful.
While remote work will always have some communication challenges that aren’t present in a traditional work environment, most of them can be overcome with a handful of strategic changes. Devote time to rethinking and rebuilding your communication strategy from the ground up, and your team will be able to work together as efficiently as ever.
Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels
Indian Cyber Force Targeting Canadian Sites, and Other Cybercrimes
Hackers from India, who call themselves the Indian Cyber Force, have threatened to target Canadian websites in response to claims that the Indian government played a role in killing a Canadian citizen promoting an independent Sikh state. The group shared a message on the X messaging platform, stating that cyberattacks in Canada would start within three days. A Canadian dental clinic’s webpage has already been vandalized with the message, “Hacked by Indian Cyber Force.”
Canadian authorities and cybersecurity experts are on high alert, closely monitoring and strengthening defenses to protect other potential targets from similar attacks. Meanwhile, the Indian government has not yet issued an official statement regarding the threats or their alleged involvement in the death of the Canadian citizen.
Royal Ransomware Gang Goes Unnoticed in Dallas for a Month
In related cyber security news, the Royal ransomware gang, which attacked Dallas, Texas, earlier this year, went unnoticed in the city’s IT infrastructure for nearly a month, stealing personal information of more than 30,000 people. The city has designated US$8.5 million to recover and restore systems affected by the attack. The gang initially accessed the IT system through a service account.
This incident highlights the importance of regularly monitoring and updating security measures within an organization’s IT infrastructure to prevent significant data breaches. Additionally, city officials are urging other municipalities to invest in updating their cyber security protocols to mitigate the risks of future ransomware attacks and protect sensitive data.
Hinds County Grapples with Ongoing Ransomware Attack
Mississippi’s Hinds County is still dealing with a ransomware attack this month, preventing residents from paying property taxes, finalizing real estate transactions, or buying car tags since September 7th. The county’s officials are working diligently with cybersecurity experts to address the issue and restore normal operations as soon as possible. In the meantime, residents are urged to remain patient and vigilant as the authorities explore alternative solutions to facilitate these essential services.
AlphV Ransomware Gang Hacks Vehicle Equipment Manufacturer Clairon
The AlphV ransomware gang has taken responsibility for hacking Clairon, a producer of audio, video, and navigation equipment for vehicles from major manufacturers. It has posted screenshots of stolen documents as evidence. The cybercriminal group claims to have accessed confidential data, including financial records, employee information, and sensitive business documents. Clairon is working in collaboration with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies to mitigate the breach’s impact and prevent further unauthorized data access.
Progress Software’s MOVEit Vulnerability Impacts More Organizations
The number of organizations impacted by the vulnerability in Progress Software’s MOVEit file transfer software continues to increase, now involving the U.S. National Student Clearing House and Financial Institution Service Corporation, four months after the initial exposure. These organizations are joining the growing list of affected parties, highlighting the far-reaching effects of the vulnerability on various sectors in the economy. As more companies discover the impact of this exposure on their systems and data, it emphasizes the criticality of addressing software vulnerabilities in a timely manner to prevent potential large-scale breaches.
Kannact Inc. Addresses Data Breach Impacting Thousands
Kannact Inc., a healthcare support company based in Oregon, is notifying close to 118,000 individuals about a data breach resulting from hacking its file transfer software. The company announced the breach in June but is still working to determine an accurate number of victims. In addition to potentially compromised personal information, the breach may have exposed sensitive medical data of the affected individuals. As a response, Kannact has been proactively implementing further security measures and working closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate the incident and minimize any potential damage.
Nigerian Individual Faces Sentencing for Business Email Scam
Lastly, a Nigerian individual faces sentencing by a U.S. judge in November on conspiracy charges associated with participation in a business email scam. The deceptive email messages tricked victims into transferring money. Furthermore, these fraudulent emails often impersonate high-level executives, leading unsuspecting employees to believe they are transferring funds for legitimate company purposes. To combat this growing issue, companies are implementing stricter security measures and raising awareness among staff members about the risks of business email scams.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Indian Cyber Force?
The Indian Cyber Force is a group of hackers from India who have recently issued threats to target Canadian websites in response to claims that the Indian government played a role in killing a Canadian citizen promoting an independent Sikh state.
What are Canadian authorities doing to prevent cyber-attacks from the Indian Cyber Force?
Canadian authorities and cybersecurity experts are on high alert, closely monitoring and strengthening defenses to protect potential targets from similar attacks.
How did the Royal Ransomware Gang infiltrate Dallas’ IT infrastructure?
The gang initially accessed the IT system through a service account and went unnoticed for nearly a month while stealing personal information of more than 30,000 people.
What are Hinds County officials doing to address the ongoing ransomware attack?
The county’s officials are working diligently with cybersecurity experts to address the issue and restore normal operations as soon as possible. They are also exploring alternative solutions to facilitate essential services for residents.
What data did the AlphV ransomware gang allegedly steal from Clairon?
The cybercriminal group claims to have accessed confidential data, including financial records, employee information, and sensitive business documents from Clairon, a producer of audio, video, and navigation equipment for vehicles.
How has Kannact Inc. responded to the data breach impacting thousands?
Kannact has been proactively implementing further security measures and working closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate the incident and minimize any potential damage caused by hacking its file transfer software.
What measures are companies taking to combat business email scams?
To combat business email scams, companies are implementing stricter security measures and raising awareness among staff members about the risks of fraudulent emails that trick victims into transferring money for illegitimate purposes.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thank you!
A Successful Digital Transformation Starts (and Ends) With People
Since the onset of the pandemic, organizations across the world have drastically accelerated their digital transformation timetables to remain relevant and keep employees engaged amid changing market dynamics. However, many have failed to fully achieve the business outcomes enabled by successful digital transformation.
At a time when competition in every industry is stronger than ever, that’s a major missed opportunity.
The Reason Behind Transformation Failures
In order to reap the full benefits of digital transformation, it is important to align skills, operations, knowledge, and culture to leverage digitalized work habits and new technologies. Research shows that a lack of this alignment, or digital maturity, is one of the most critical factors in determining why so many organizations fail to meet their digital transformation goals.
The good news? Achieving digital maturity is well within reach for organizations that are willing to put in the work.
What Is Digital Maturity?
Digital maturity is the ability to adapt people, experiences, and businesses to new platforms and tools in order to maximize the value that is created through successful digital transformation. As your transformation ramps up, it’s vital to get a realistic temperature of the digital maturity within your organization so you can avoid common pitfalls.
The more mature your organization’s digital culture is, the more likely it is to succeed in full-scale transformation. Attaining digital maturity means your company can adjust to changes quickly, avoid costly technical delays, and see improved operations alongside heightened efficiency.
Putting People First — Always
So what’s the secret to attaining this optimal level of maturity? First and foremost, establishing a digitally mature culture requires a shift in mindset and the implementation of practical strategies. Organizations must prioritize people over technology and create an environment that enables both employees and the business to thrive.
The benefits of establishing a digitally mature culture include enhancing employee satisfaction and engagement, improving retention rates, and reducing attrition. A people-first approach also attracts top talent, particularly among younger generations who expect organizations to have digital maturity.
The Far-Reaching Effects of People-Centricity
By fostering an environment that values employees and leverages technology effectively, organizations become more attractive to prospective employees. And those that don’t prioritize this type of people-first approach? They will lose out on top talent.
Beyond the obvious employee satisfaction metrics, a people-centric culture promotes growth and encourages continuous learning, all while enabling employees to adapt to change more effectively. This agility drives innovation, productivity, and competitiveness in the digital landscape.
Evaluating the Characteristics of a Digitally Mature Culture
Let’s look at the ingredients that bring a successful digital transformation to life. It’s helpful to evaluate these four characteristics to see where your organization’s digital maturity stands:
Innovation: You should take into consideration how easy it is for your current employees to generate and implement creative ideas. It is critically important to foster a culture that truly encourages and rewards innovations. Make sure that you have the platforms and the resources needed for employees to contribute their ideas. And remember to “decriminalize” so-called failures. Great ideas require plenty of trial and error.
Flexibility: You will need to evaluate the flexibility of your organization and how well it adapts to change so you can determine if there is room for adjustments and if you have the ability to request additional time. It’s important to promote an environment that strives for successful digital transformation and an advanced digital culture — one that encourages employees to adapt to new processes and technologies.
Collaboration: Assess if you’ve created an atmosphere that is conducive to collaboration among all team members. Your organization should encourage open communication and knowledge sharing to keep everyone moving in the same direction. This extends to leadership as well; leaders should be transparent about the company’s digital transform strategy and be open to answering questions and considering new ideas from employees.
Continuous learning: Encouraging ongoing education and training in the digital transformation journey is crucial. Evaluate if you have the proper resources and processes in place to do so. You want your employees to regularly engage in various types of learning to ensure they have a clear understanding of the digital culture, processes, and technologies used within your organization. Fostering this type of culture also shows employees that you are invested in their growth, increasing satisfaction and the ability to attract new talent.
How Organizations Can Ensure Successful Digital Transformation
There are several strategies you can implement in order to make your digital transformation successful while prioritizing your people. The most effective strategies include the following:
1. Take a Bottom-Up Approach.
Your employees play an integral part when it comes to implementing a successful digital transformation. For this reason, it is in your best interest to implement a bottom-up approach and allow all employees to play an active role in the process right from the beginning. When everyone is onboard and rowing in the same direction, the destination becomes a lot easier to reach.
2. Recognize Your Current State of Digital Maturity.
It is important for you to assess how digitally mature your organization is. There’s no need to sugarcoat the findings. Be realistic. Determining the current maturity level among your employees can help you hone in on the organization’s acceptance and willingness to make the necessary changes. A great way to do this is to survey your employees: What do they want from your digital transformation? How are they engaging with new processes? Taking the pulse of the organization provides valuable feedback needed to make future adjustments.
3. Overcome Resistance to Change.
One of the biggest challenges to successful digital transformation is gaining buy-in from those who are wary of the transition. However, overcoming this resistance to change is key to ensuring you are able to make the transformation work. One of the best things that you can do to help overcome such resistance is to create a support system for staff and leadership. Create an environment of open communication where you can discuss how digital maturity can be viewed as an opportunity instead of a threat. Emphasize the end goal if necessary; the company’s vision is X, and improving digital maturity is the way to achieve that.
Make no mistake, implementing these strategies does take dedicated time and effort. But doing so can help to ensure your organization is prepared to prioritize and support employee engagement amid constant change. Following the above steps will do wonders for enhancing your digital maturity and, ultimately, make your digital transformation more successful. There’s no better time to act than now.
Unleashing Women Entrepreneurs: Boosting Global Economy
On 21 September 2023, the United Nations (UN) demonstrated its commitment to inclusive funding by highlighting the importance of empowering female entrepreneurs to achieve gender equality and stimulate global economic growth. This undertaking includes implementing targeted measures that close the gender divide in entrepreneurship, such as collaborating with various governments, financial institutions, and private-sector organizations to improve women entrepreneurs’ access to capital, markets, and networks. Moreover, the UN focuses on providing mentorship programs, skills training, and education resources to enhance women’s abilities in successfully starting and scaling their businesses.
Building a Global Infrastructure for Women-led Businesses
In collaboration with numerous organizations, institutions, and governments, the UN is constructing an infrastructure that offers a range of resources, mentorship, education, and access to financing for women-led businesses worldwide. This global endeavor aims to foster the growth and development of female entrepreneurs, empower women, remove gender barriers, and ultimately spur economic growth through diverse and innovative enterprises. By forging close partnerships with many stakeholders, the UN aspires to create an ecosystem that supports and advances the aspirations of women entrepreneurs, leading to a more inclusive and equitable society.
Economic Impact and the Sustainable Development Goals
The UN seeks to fortify economies, build resilient communities, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supporting female business owners and advocating for inclusive capital. Promoting gender equality in entrepreneurship drives economic growth and stimulates innovation and job creation locally and globally. Furthermore, female entrepreneurs bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the marketplace, addressing a broader range of societal needs and challenges in line with the SDGs.
Innovation, Diversity, and Social Impact
The UN’s emphasis on women’s entrepreneurship signifies its broader commitment to promoting innovation, diversity, and social impact, which are vital in shaping a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. By actively supporting and empowering female entrepreneurs, the organization furthers its objective of bridging gender gaps and fostering a more equitable setting for innovation. This strategy fuels economic prosperity and plays a crucial role in tackling various social challenges and ensuring lasting, positive change for communities worldwide.
Providing Resources and Networks for Women Entrepreneurs
Through various initiatives and partnerships, the UN assists women entrepreneurs in overcoming obstacles, securing vital resources, and connecting with a network of supportive peers, mentors, and industry professionals. These collaborations and resources equip women with the tools and know-how needed to successfully establish and grow their businesses, thus contributing to a more inclusive global economy. By empowering female entrepreneurs, the UN is cultivating greater gender equality, innovation, and sustainable development worldwide.
Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls
By undertaking these efforts, the United Nations strives to accelerate progress towards attaining gender equality and empowering women and girls across the globe. Consequently, many programs and initiatives have been introduced to address barriers impeding women’s rights and access to opportunities. By fostering a more inclusive and equitable society, the UN actively contributes to sustainable development and enhances the living conditions for women and girls worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the UN’s commitment to empowering female entrepreneurs?
The United Nations is committed to empowering female entrepreneurs by implementing targeted measures that close the gender divide in entrepreneurship and collaborating with various governments, financial institutions, and private-sector organizations to improve women entrepreneurs’ access to capital, markets, and networks. Additionally, the UN provides mentorship programs, skills training, and education resources to enhance women’s abilities in starting and scaling their businesses successfully.
What is the purpose of building a global infrastructure for women-led businesses?
In collaboration with numerous organizations, institutions, and governments, the UN is constructing an infrastructure to offer a range of resources, mentorship, education, and access to financing for women-led businesses worldwide. This global endeavor aims to foster the growth and development of female entrepreneurs, empower women, remove gender barriers, and ultimately spur economic growth through diverse and innovative enterprises.
How does supporting female entrepreneurs contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
Supporting female entrepreneurs contributes to achieving the SDGs by fortifying economies, building resilient communities, driving economic growth, stimulating innovation, and creating job opportunities locally and globally. Furthermore, women-owned businesses help address broader societal needs and challenges in line with the SDGs.
What is the role of innovation, diversity, and social impact in empowering female entrepreneurs?
The UN emphasizes innovation, diversity, and social impact to foster a more equitable setting for entrepreneurship, bridge gender gaps, and shape a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. By actively supporting and empowering female entrepreneurs, this strategy is crucial in tackling various social challenges and ensures lasting, positive change for communities worldwide.
How does the UN provide resources and networks for women entrepreneurs?
Through various initiatives and partnerships, the UN assists women entrepreneurs in overcoming obstacles to success by offering resources, connecting them with supportive peers, mentors, and industry professionals, and providing vital know-how needed to establish and grow their businesses. These collaborations help create a more inclusive global economy and cultivate greater gender equality, innovation, and sustainable development worldwide.
How do these efforts contribute to achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls globally?
By undertaking these efforts, the United Nations strives to accelerate progress towards attaining gender equality and empowering women and girls across the globe. Numerous programs and initiatives have been introduced to address barriers impeding women’s rights and access to opportunities. By fostering a more inclusive and equitable society, the UN actively contributes to sustainable development and enhances the living conditions for women and girls worldwide.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by KoolShooters; Pexels; Thank you!