It was in the middle of the exam phase during my dual mechanical engineering studies: My desk at the office was packed with work – the one I had at home even more so. On Fridays, I bid my colleagues goodbye saying: “I’m going to lock myself in and study for the exams…”
One colleague said in passing: “Don’t just lock yourself in, make sure you plug yourself in as well.” Yeah, yeah…you keep joking I thought to myself, drove home, sat down in a quiet corner and started studying. My head was spinning, so was the fly in my room. In the quiet room I found every little bit of distraction to be convenient. I barely made any progress.
Then a suffering colleague called me on Skype. He had similar problems. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. Gradually, more and more fellow students joined, and half of our study group was online. Suddenly, it all worked out! No question went unanswered. There was a solution to every problem, sent as a photo directly into your mailbox. We motivated each other, helped each other out. After all, there was still some time left to relax on the couch. Not only that, but I also had peace of mind. So THAT’S what the colleague meant when he told me to plug myself in! Great!
Internal Communication 4.0
Everything is easier when done together. We solve problems, as a team. Communication is progress! I’m glad that TÜV Rheinland has so much to offer when it comes to communication, such as phones, Lync, e-mail inboxes and a phone book with the room numbers, so we can always visit the colleagues personally. The technology goes even one step further and links phone calls to the Lync database: If someone calls us, Lync will show us their name and even their picture. If we miss a call, a red LED will light up on our phone and we also get an e-mail informing us about the call. Right-clicking the name will give you the option to start a direct call or open a chat window. You can even share the screen and edit documents together – with just a few clicks.
My personal favorite is this little red light that is on every time I miss a call. Just pushing it allows me to call back. At first, I was surprised how many co-workers were happy that I called back. They didn’t expect it at all. I realized later that rarely anybody calls back, which explained my co-worker’s reaction.
Digital Communication Only Works Together
You don’t always have time to answer a call during your day-to-day business and sometimes you’re not even at the office, I get that. In that case, I make sure to answer via e-mail. It’s a little less personal than a call but at least I can make sure that my answer is on its way to the recipient. Unfortunately, this combination is often left unanswered.
I remember customer surveys where the people taking it criticized the initial contact as the biggest flaw. From my point of view, this does not only apply to the customers. Internally, I would put that at the top of the list of things that need to be improved.
The hint I can give my co-workers is therefore: isolating oneself only works sometimes. Being connected, calling back, answering e-mails, communicating with each other – that will bring us together. And only together can we progress!
Spreading rumours and information through the office grapvine and the likes is just an unnecessary waste of time and energy! And more often than not these rumours and information spread like wildfire! These are all things that could be prevented by an open and frank discussion. And the first step is pretty easy: call back. Answer e-mails. Talk to each other.