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Communication Tools

This section is designed to help staff understand and choose which communication tool is best for different scenarios. Whilst staff may be working remotely, it is vital to remember that being successful usually hinges upon continued, effective communication.

Queen Mary encourages individuals to take reasonable actions to maintain a balance between their wellbeing and their ability to carry out their duties. Working remotely can disrupt work-life balance. Various actions can mitigate this. One suggestion is to keep work and personal communication separate. It is an individual choice to share personal contact details and this choice must be respected.

This section runs though different work communication scenarios and suggests tools which can help support how these communications can be undertaken. Preference in the usage of the tools will vary. Ultimately each manager, in conjunction with their staff member, should use the tools that best suit their teams.

  • You may want to consider using the video function in Microsoft TEAMS or a phone call.
  • TEAMS also allows you to take notes.
  • You can also split your screen to see two applications or documents side by side by pressing the windows key and the right arrow key on your keyboard. 

  • The call function in Microsoft TEAMS can be a useful tool for team meetings.
  • More information on using Microsoft TEAMS can be found here.

  • Working from home does not mean we need to stop informal conversations with our manager or colleagues. There are various tools staff can use to create these spaces, both between individuals and within the wider team setting.
  • Microsoft TEAMS has various ‘channels’ for different topics. It would be possible for the Team Owner(s) to add a specific channel to a team for general chat.

Key Tip: We encourage the use of daily team ‘check ins’ as well as weekly social check ins where work is not discussed. Instead these should aim to be general chats, akin to those we have throughout the day when we arrive to the office, at our desks, in the kitchen and so forth.

  • Depending on topic and team size, email chains may still present themselves as the easiest way to communicate. It is important to be mindful of potential increased traffic in colleague’s inboxes and the associated delays this may carry.

  • Document sharing may also be impacted by working from home. Whilst you can email documents, there is the risk that people are editing or commenting on different versions.
  • To rectify this, it is recommended to use either OneDrive or SharePoint where all those involved in a piece of work can review the latest edited version.

  • It is advisable to take a few minutes at the beginning of every video call meeting on small talk.  This helps people get familiar with the concept of virtual communication before you start your structured meeting.
    Take a few minutes to check everyone’s equipment is working e.g. make sure that cameras, speakers and microphones are switched on.
  • Using the camera function in video calls can be more personal and interactive so long as all parties agree. It can be unnerving talking to a blank screen, and it removes important non-verbal cues.
  • As a default ask people to mute their microphones in order to reduce echoing. Muting microphones means you may miss out on important verbal cues. However, it may be helpful to ask individuals to mute their microphones if there are significant levels of background noise. They can then unmute their microphone when they wish to speak.
  • If you are not using the camera video call function it may be tempting to eat a snack, move papers or focus on multiple tasks during the meeting. We recommend directing your full attention whilst in the meetings and be aware that your microphone will pick up on various background noises.
  • When you are working from home, there may be noise or other interference in the room that you can’t control. If that is the case, keep your microphone muted when you are not speaking and tell the meeting chair at the beginning.

Key Tip: If using tele-conferencing be mindful that there are no verbal cues so please do try to get into the habit of saying your name at the start when you are speaking so everyone knows who is talking. This may become less necessary as the meeting progresses.

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