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Employees prefer to communicate via video calls

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Video calling has become the go-to method for conducting meetings during lockdown, but new research by HR magazine finds employees want to continue communicating via video post-pandemic.

Over half (54%) of HR magazine readers said video calls have become their preferred method of communication since outbreak of pandemic.

Having meetings in person (36%) was the second most popular, with over the phone (6%) and email (4%) coming third and fourth. 

Jonathan Richards, CEO at Breathe, said there’s no doubt that remote working has impacted how we now interact with each other at work.

He told HR magazine: “The pandemic forced businesses to adapt quickly to working from home while maintaining a strong company culture and productivity levels, with video calls being a way to do so.

“It’s interesting that the majority of those polled still prefer video calls as their main form of interaction but seeing a proportion of people who prefer meeting in person does speak to the shift to more hybrid working.

Richards said as teams return to the office and hybrid work kicks in, he thinks there may be a shift in communication trends. 

“As businesses continue to return to the office, perhaps in another six months we’ll see a larger majority of people preferring in person meetings again and a shift away from video calls,” he said.

Brian Kropp, chief of HR research at Gartner, told HR magazine that until the pandemic, video conferencing was rarely used as a communication tool in a business setting. 

However, Kropp said the surge of platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and instant messaging, means that employees are communicating via more channels than ever before, and are unable to distinguish between urgent notifications.

As a result, he said Gartner has found employees are 2.54 times as likely to experience digital distractions.

He said: “Looking ahead to the hybrid work era, video conferencing will still be a lifeline for connecting on-site and remote workers.

“With this in mind, businesses need to set clear boundaries around the use of different communication tools for different projects, and HR needs to ensure employees are trained to manage and switch off from this instant communication.”

As over half of respondents identified video calling as their preferred method of communication, Sophie Forrest, founder and managing director of HR support company ForrestHR, said it is clearly one of the lasting effects of the pandemic.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Pre-lockdown, video calls were only a mainstream for international companies, but they were the saviours of so many businesses when people had to start working from home overnight.

“They enabled teams to communicate and organisations to stay in touch with clients and suppliers in a more personal way than emails and phone calls alone.”

Forrest said the people managers will have to blend different communication methods going forward.

She said: “There’s a split in personal preferences, so structuring communication in the way that works best for individuals while also ensuring all staff are equally engaged is one of the new challenges for HR leaders as we rethink our post-pandemic businesses.

“This may mean consulting staff on their personal preferences, but overlaying that with some business-wide standards, for example a requirement that quarterly goal setting is done face-to-face if the majority of meetings are remote.”

HR magazine conducted the LinkedIn poll on 7 July 2021 and 1,248 people responded.