This is me sitting outside the One Co Work offices in Barcelona’s marina some weeks ago. We spent two days inside here workshopping and scheming. And quite a few hours after the meetings in the cafe opposite the hotel, and in the hotel, working remotely and collaborating to do the day job outside of the workshopping and planning the future.
A heady mix of Slack, Zoom video calls, Whatsapp and yes, even email. With clients in 3 countries and a team back at base. We had to deal with a few unexpected issues but it was pretty easy in truth to keep things moving forward.
On the way back home I was sat at an airport and caught up on email. Mostly filing them. I managed to get a client approval on some outdoor advertising, kept the spirits of a team member up via WhatsApp when they were flagging and needed some support, we managed an influencer photo and film shoot remotely via WhatsApp with remote viewers from client and agency team in three different countries and collaborated on a proposal outline next to changing content plans and created new content for a different client in Slack.
But also with a connected world comes more complexity. The firehose is present in all forms of communication. It’s down to the broadcaster of the message to make it a signal rather than part of the noise. Enable the recipients to know what they’re meant to do.
And then I missed my flight.
Not because I was doing all this. I was at the right gate. I heard the announcement it was delayed. I heard all the other flights being called, delayed, last boarding; Amsterdam, Cardiff, London City. Nothing about my destination. Only getting annoyed that I’d heard nothing did I venture out and see on a different screen that the gate had been changed. And the flight had gone.
The ground staff said they’d called. And name checked me and 4 other people. Calmly advising them no such announcement was heard and the screens in the original gate area were not updated. I ended up having to trek through departures back to the arrival hall to explain the entire situation again to the ticket people. Along with the other people who were a lot more angry than I.
Fortunately, I’d got there first. A new ticket later and once again I’m sat at another gate. And once again the screen has gone blank. No announcement can still be heard in the main area. So I’m stood staring at the other screen in the other area while I write this, seeing it change gate. The announcement works in this section of the airport. But crucially not where the original gate was. Where the people expecting the flight were directed and once again congregating.
Strength and clarity – the meaning behind the military phrase five by five. Also meaning loud and clear. If your message is unclear and has no strength, it’s just noise. How do you make sure you navigate the mud of multiple comms platforms? And get the actions you want? Call it out, use directional language, use the props of the platform and you won’t be relying on people finding your message In the mud. And also use common sense. If you’ve been told there’s an issue, fix it or find a work around. Don’t repeat the same thing over and over. Madness that way lies.
In the heat of multiple projects, cool heads, calm approach and strength and clarity of communication is key.
And then it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. Although it really matters to me that I get home now after a few days away.
Post script. I did get home eventually, some 6 hours after planned arrival.