There’s no question that the workforce setting is changing, with a growing number of employees working at home (especially amid the coronavirus). What is up for debate? How to maximize communication when your colleague is miles – versus steps – away.

A Forbes story – How You Can Still Communicate Effectively With Staff And Coworkers While Working From Home – offers several strategies:

The Ides of March has historically been connected with the death of Julius Caesar. In the future, it may be best remembered as the week which launched the beginning of the end of the traditional office desk farm.

Soon, the orchard of cubicles may be seen as an anachronism of inefficiency. Home-based employees reduce a company’s fixed and variable infrastructure costs while maintaining the same level of revenues. And if you haven’t been paying attention, corporate bean counters will likely soon be most interested in ways to cut costs without cutting revenues. … “This is not the time to under-communicate,” says Debra A. Dinnocenzo, President of VirtualWorks! In Pittsburgh. “Use all available methods to keep in touch with home-bound workers: email, chat, video calls, telephone. Use live voice-to-voice connections as often as possible, even if just to check in with a ‘how goes it?’ contact. People need to feel they aren’t isolated or forgotten during these days of separation from each other.”

… Beyond the technology, there is also the leadership. Firms that have successfully decentralized have leaders who embrace the strategy. Don’t think you’re “hip” if you know how to use email. That was so Twentieth Century. 

“You can’t run your empire by email alone,” says Wayne Turmel, co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute in Las Vegas. “Get used to using your webcams. If the senior leaders don’t use them, the rank and file won’t. The number one factor in whether a team uses a tool is if the boss uses it. Also, try not to do separate messages for folks in the office and those remote. Be all one team and send that message.” 

Finally, aside from work, there’s another reason to maintain regular and consistent communications. As a song once said, “people need people.” So, don’t be afraid to show your lovely mug. You don’t need a fancy camera, either. You can just use your phone. … And a welcoming smile might be worth a lot right about now.

The Indiana Chamber has a statewide employer coronavirus resources page – www.indianachamber.com/coronavirus – which provides information under three umbrellas: Health, Tools You Can Use and Government and Community Assistance.

Symone Skrzycki is the senior communications manager for the Indiana Chamber. She is also a senior writer for the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for 19 years.