When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, non-essential organizations worldwide mandated stay at home strategies to safeguard their employees. For those of us lucky enough to work from home, managers, IT specialists and personnel embraced digital environments that could access the infrastructure needed to communicate with customers, partners and coworkers.
As businesses continue to adjust to this new normal, communicating effectively in virtual work environments has gained more importance. And to maintain the tight bond between teams, digital social interactions are becoming just as important as work communications.
For many Ansys employees, working from home has become commonplace and we understand how difficult it could be to adjust to this new dynamic. As a result, I have gathered the perspectives of some leaders from the Ansys Women in Technology (WiT) group to offer their advice on effective communication in a virtual world.
Being Inclusive and Building Rapport for Effective Digital Communication
Janice Casagrande serves as a regional sales director for North America at Ansys. Her first tip to communicate effectively in a digital world is to “be sensitive to the different time zones of the meeting participants, especially when they are many time zones away.”
Casagrande explained focusing on people engagement helps drive effective communication. “Vary the meeting time so that sometimes it is convenient for some but inconvenient for others. Then the next time, make it inconvenient for the first group but convenient for the second group. That way everyone feels like they have an equal voice in the meeting time — this will keep them actively engaged.”
In other words, building rapport remains key to effective communication. Casagrande added, “A warm, friendly conversation will help everyone get comfortable. It will make it easier to share during the meeting.”
Casagrande also stated, that “another great way to build rapport is with video meetings. It is great to see our co-workers and it can help everyone feel connected.” However, remember to acknowledge the internet bandwidth challenges some employees might face with video meetings.
To be able to make virtual meetings more successful, Casagrande also stressed the importance of recognizing everyone’s presence. She said, “be cognizant when others want to make a point. Allow others to speak, but make sure your voice is heard.”
Verbal and Video Communication for Effective Digital Communication
Sara Olsson works cross functionally as the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Training Manager at Ansys. Her regional responsibility, for customer training, is mainly Europe but she collaborates with partners all over the globe. As a result, she said she continues to be “quite used to relying on virtual meetings under normal circumstances. We simply cannot do everything face to face.”
Olsson’s tips to digital communication focus on the advantages that verbal communication offers over written communication: “You cannot rely on emails alone to get your points across. It takes too much time to formulate some things clearly and avoid misunderstandings. While in a conversation, you can immediately rephrase and explain when people are not following. [When misunderstandings happen] it is usually most effective to call.”
In order to have effective digital and verbal communication, Olsson promotes video calls, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. “I do miss people, but that is more on a social level than not being able to do the work,” she said. “It also really helps seeing the person on the other end of the call using video chat.”
According to Olsson, managing work-life balance remains a challenge while working from home. Flexible work hours provide a potential solution, enabling employees to connect with their personal lives while having unexpected benefits to work life.
For instance, “flexible working hours are helping me to connect with even more colleagues and customers,” said Olsson. “I am busier than ever as we enable our customers to go virtual and get trained on the Ansys Learning Hub.”
Flexible Working Hours and Social Interactions for Effective Digital Communication
Olsson isn’t the only WiT at Ansys connecting with more colleagues due to her flexible working hours. Sujata Bandyopadhyay, a senior manager in technical support at Ansys for Asia Pacific also reports a similar experience.
“While the situation has posed us with many challenges, it is a great opportunity for all of us to innovate and find different ways to keep the business [running],” said Bandyopadhyay. “The lockdown opened a unique opportunity for everyone to enhance their skills through virtual medium and to be prepared for the future.”
For instance, Bandyopadhyay’s team quickly responded to the lockdown. She said, “For our customers, we developed a series of webinars and all our technical support engineers have made themselves available to address the customer’s challenges.” These engineers can help customers access their software and training resources as they work from home.
Bandyopadhyay also emphasized how working from home has motivated her colleagues to engage with social interaction. “The Ansys India Sales and Ansys Customer Excellence (ACE) teams started celebrating a virtual get together every fortnight with music, poetry, dance, calligraphy and hobbies.” The event is open to Ansys members and their families.
“When we come out of this lockdown, I am sure we will be stronger as family, friends and colleagues. We will all share a better, closer network,” added Bandyopadhyay. Perhaps the present situation will also lead to a cultural shift to how organizations perceive working from home?
How Ansys Supports its Customers During the COVID-19 Crisis
Ansys leverages its simulation tools to help its customers and channel partners battle the COVID-19 pandemic. To see some examples, read about COVID-19 Simulation Solutions.
Ansys also outlined details on what opportunities are available to support customers while they work from home. To learn more, read: We’re Committed to our Customers, Employees and Communities.
Additionally, Ansys will host the virtual conference Simulation World to help inspire and educate customers, engineers, thought leaders and the world about the transformative powers of engineering simulation. To learn more, sign up to attend.