Industry Expert: Navigating Remote Work Communication Challenges with Sheila Ojei

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The world has experienced a sudden shift in its normal activities, as individuals try to stay safe and healthy, remote work is now on the rise and it is here to stay. With all of these sudden expanded remote work adoption policies, are organizations ready to tackle some of the biggest challenges of remote teams at scale? Always rising to the top of the list is challenges in remote communication.

We had an interesting chat with the Sheila Ojei, Communication Specialist at Jobberman Nigeria to gain some insights into how the company successfully achieved so many milestones in 2020 and how the hard nut of communication among teams can be cracked and maintained to assure success.

Q – As a professional in the world of communication and content management, how did you transcend from Accounting to communications? What drove you to become who you are today?

Sheila – I can say I started my career in communications from an early age, I started my first blog when I was 18, however, I was not sure what the future held for me so I studied Accounting and eventually started working in finance. While in finance, I always found myself in ‘communicating’ roles, I was either writing reports, working on presentations and reviewing the overall look and feel of our documents. It was important for me that the audience understood what it was we were trying to communicate without using too many big words and financial jargon. It was while in finance, I discovered my love for scriptwriting and I started writing for TV and Theatre productions. 

I eventually left the finance world, joined manufacturing and for 6 years I again found myself working on communications and branding of the products. While working in manufacturing, I continued my writing for international NGOs, screen and stage. One thing that remained constant, was my love for communications, content creation and management so I decided to search for a role in Communications and ditch the finance world. 

Q – 2020 has undoubtedly been a rough year, did the constant and rapid changes affect you?

Sheila – 2020 was indeed a tough year, every month had its challenges however I was able to find a rhythm with remote working. At first, the forced lockdown was difficult for me because it took away my option to work from different locations where I could draw inspiration but it also gave me time to focus on what was important and time with family. 

Q- So many things have changed in recent times, the world is rapidly evolving. Has this change sipped into the world of communication?

Sheila – Indeed there has been a change in the way we communicate. Before the pandemic, people relied mostly on face to face interaction but now we have gotten used to virtual communication, we even organize virtual press conferences now. I am sure everyone at this point has used Zoom at least twice in the last few months. On the other hand, Communications experts like myself have seen the need for not just creating content but engaging content in order to send a message across. Storytelling has become an ‘in’ thing because people are not as distracted as they used to be so we need to sell our brands in a way that people can connect, and that is through telling stories. 

Q- Now that remote work is on the rise, you are working remotely as well; what efforts have you made to maintain team communication in Jobberman? What can employers do to replicate these effective efforts?

Sheila – Communication is the foundation of remote work, however, there is such a thing as too much communication which can be very annoying. In order to maintain team communication, I ensure to establish work expectations at the start of the week, this I do by having a call where we discuss our plans for the week and challenges from the previous week. I also pay attention to preferred modes of communication with my colleagues, some people like regular phone calls while others are more of the messaging type because my team is small, I have been able to work with their individual preference when it comes to communicating. Lastly, I have learnt to give enough time for ‘play’, this is because with all of us being stuck at home most of the time, work will always creep into our personal times so it is important to once in a while take off the ‘work hat’ and just have chill conversations about life. 

Q- Can you identify any major challenges faced with remote work as regards to communication?

Sheila – The lack of face to face communication has indeed been a challenge. Sometimes when people write messages, we are unable to decipher their mood or tone which could lead to a misunderstanding. Another thing is the intrusive nature of messaging apps and emails, most people do not realise that working hours still apply even when working from home. 

Q- The Jobberman team has largely been working remotely for most of 2020. How has the company been able to adapt and strive despite the numerous challenges? Are there any secrets you could share?

Sheila – I resumed with Jobberman remotely and it amazed me how even though we were all in different locations, we worked effectively together. In my opinion, the secret to this was our ability to adapt and be innovative despite the challenges we faced. In 2020, we launched the soft skills training and ended up training more people than we ever would have if we had in-person classes. We also figured out how to organize a virtual career fair which turned out to be a very successful event and finally how to have fun as a company through our virtual parties. Any company looking to work remotely like Jobberman needs to learn innovative ways to bridge the gap that remote work brings. 

Q- What future do you see for remote work in Nigeria? 

Sheila – Remote work is here to stay. Therefore it is important that companies and individuals alike learn how to function remotely. In Nigeria, many companies have learnt the importance of remote work to their bottom line so a lot of them are now open to employees working from home. On the other hand, individuals love the flexibility that remote work brings and will be opting more for it than being at the office. 

Q- Are there currently any opportunities on Jobberman for remote work and learning?

Sheila – Yes, there are a lot of remote work opportunities on the Jobberman platform. Simply check www.jobberman.com to find out more. Also, we currently have our soft skills training where you can learn basic non-technical skills such as emotional intelligence, business etiquette, effective communication, visit www.jobberman.com/softskills 

 

Eseosa Osayimwen
I create content that builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.