We hear a lot about a shift towards a “gig economy” and a world in which work is more fluid and working patterns more flexible. While a more elastic workforce brings advantages for both workers and employers, it also poses some challenges, not least when it comes to workplace communications, writes Wendy Hamilton, TechSmith. As the world of work changes, we must rethink the way we train our workers, engage with them, and share corporate news. Harnessing technology to make internal communications more visual can boost worker productivity, and help ensure an increasingly dynamic, disparate workforce is moving in the same direction.
Bye bye “nine-to-five”?
There’s little doubt that the traditional “nine to five” way of working is becoming a thing of the past. The Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne conducted research that found 63% of weekday workers in Australia aged between 20-59 years old end up working at least partially outside the prototypical 8am to 6pm window. Temporary contracts, flexi time, part-time work and remote working are increasingly common, driven by changes in both employee attitudes and employer needs.
When it comes to internal communications, this creates a new landscape. Employees often work in different places at different times, which can make face-to-face communication — from town halls to watercooler chats — almost impossible. Ensuring that all workers have been through the same training processes, and that their skills are kept up-to-date becomes more challenging, as well. Creating a coherent corporate culture and successfully communicating to all workers is more important than ever.
Less faceless, more effective
Given this new reality, we must rethink recruitment, retention, and workplace communications or we risk losing out on top talent who will go where their needs are being met. Luckily, easy-to-use technology solutions can help employers to engage with workers wherever they are and however they work. By using more visual content in workplace communications — including video, screen captures, and edited images — organisations can reap many benefits and boost worker productivity.
Video reaches workers wherever they are, giving them bitesize information that they can consume on any device, whenever’s convenient, and mirroring the way that people consume content in their personal lives. Training that uses video and screencasts helps ensure that workers who may not have been through in-person onboarding and ongoing training are up to scratch. Our research found that over two thirds (67%) of employees perform better when communicated with visually compared to text alone. But despite the clear benefits, this medium is still underused: almost half of Australian workers (47%) say they never use a video message to communicate in their company.
Not only are visual communications often more effective, but they can also give the business a more authentic, personable feel than purely text-based communications. This is particularly important for workers who are rarely on-site. Ensuring that contingent workers feel connected to the culture, purpose and mission of the business is fundamental; nobody is inspired to do their best work for a faceless corporation.
Getting your message across
These are some of the types of internal communication that can be enhanced by the creative use of video and screen capture.
1. Delivering training
We know that two out of three workers are better at completing tasks when instructions include text with images, screenshots, and video rather than text alone. This can provide a great way of training remote workers employees as needed.
2. Modernising internal communications
Whether your CEO wants to give a company update to all workers, or your finance or HR department needs to communicate a change in process, video can get the message across clearly and effectively. Our research found that employees actually absorb information 7% faster when communicated through a visual medium.
3. Kicking off campaigns
Video can be a great way to launch a campaign, whether it’s an internal initiative or a companywide marketing campaign. A short, sleek launch video can help to get your whole workforce excited about a new endeavour.
4. Small, one-off communications
If you’re working with someone in a different location (and possibly a different time zone), creating a quick video with screen captures can be the perfect way to show instructions for a task or provide feedback on a shared task.
5. A visual approach to internal comms
When communicating with a workforce that includes remote, flexible or contract workers, make sure your content takes these workers’ circumstances into account. For example, freelancers likely work on a number of clients at once, so will have a limited amount of time and headspace to spend on any communications from your company. Remote workers will likely access the content on a laptop or mobile device.
With these considerations in mind, here are some tips for creating effective internal comms videos:
- No one expects you to be a professional video producer or graphic designer. You don’t always have to aim for a beautiful, professional-quality piece. Something a little rough around the edges is quicker to produce and can look more authentic anyway.
- Begin with a simple screen recording of a prepared slide-deck or similar document, with an audio recording that supports the explanation of your visual communication.
- Make sure your staff members — especially your leadership team — practise so that they are comfortable in front of the camera, and so that you have a willing bank of film stars.
- While more formal pieces may sometimes be necessary, don’t feel like everything needs to be scripted. Many voiceovers or pieces-to-camera can sound over-rehearsed and disingenuous if they’re too prepared. Encourage participants to prepare some simple notes or bullet points and then speak naturally.
- Keep videos short. Time-poor workers who are on-the-go will only have a short amount of time to consume your content. Communicate your message as concisely as possible, and generally keep videos less than a couple of minutes long unless absolutely necessary.
- If you’re communicating with contingent workers, don’t lock away your content on an intranet that’s only accessible to your permanent workforce. Consider cloud-based storing and sharing methods instead.
- Consider adding captions to videos so that workers can watch them even if they’re out and about without headphones to-hand. • Think about what you really need to communicate. Don’t bombard your workers with communications, whether in text or video form. Make sure you have an internal communications plan and calendar so that you can keep track of who is receiving which messages when.
And remember, visual content isn’t just better for contingent or off-site workers. Our research shows that the majority of your workforce — even those just a few steps away — will benefit from a more visual approach to internal communications. Your workers will be happier, they’ll feel more engaged, and that can translate to more productivity and better overall morale.
About the Author – Wendy Hamilton
Wendy, CEO at TechSmith, is a values-first leader and is committed to the practice of putting customers first. She is focused on leveraging more than 25 years of experience in product innovation, growth strategy, and global leadership to expand TechSmith’s leading position in the visual communication space.