A Year of COVID Communications: WFH Brings a Breakdown In Critical Workplace Conversations

New Report from Mursion Points to Companies Taking Bare Minimum Approach to Addressing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Issues in the Workplace

San Francisco, CA, March 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After a year of COVID, a new report revealed critical and previously routine workplace communications are suffering, including no substantive dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), even after a tumultuous period calling for societal change.

The new report from Mursion, the industry leader in virtual reality corporate training for emotional intelligence, found that one-in-four large companies (2,500+ employees) has not formally addressed issues surrounding DE&I. Of those that have officially communicated policy on DE&I issues, email was the most commonly used medium, according to employees (77%) and managers (63%).

The new report, “OOO, Out of Mind: The Unintended Impact of Remote Work on Critical Communication,” detailed how the switch to remote work contributed to employees and managers setting aside — or avoiding — conversations that are critical to their professional development and relationships with colleagues. Employees (70%) and managers (55%) said they avoid having difficult conversations or have them reluctantly. Additionally, only 35% of managers reported giving an employee review in the past year.

“While remote work has its benefits, this report points to the long-term implications of a dispersed workforce,” said Mark Atkinson, CEO and co-founder of Mursion. “Conversations that are imperative to a company’s success, such as employee reviews and challenging conversations around corporate values, are being postponed or relegated to email exchanges. With remote work expected to continue, we have to confront the challenge of presenting managers with the opportunity to practice the critical skills they need to lead challenging conversations virtually and in-person.”

Companies Believe Talking At — Not With — Employees Solves DE&I

As issues surrounding DE&I in the workplace have come front-and-center in the past year, leaders at large companies have talked at colleagues — not with — to communicate their formal stance. Ninety-two percent of managers said that one-way conversations, via email or video calls, were enough when discussing DE&I.

Additionally, peer-to-peer conversations on DE&I issues aren’t happening with the same frequency as they are happening among leadership. Just 39% of employees, compared to 68% of managers, said they had an informal conversation about DE&I issues.

Long-Term Communication Strategy Lacking Crucial Components

As companies prepare for a future with a dispersed workforce, new communication strategies may be needed to facilitate productive and fruitful conversations. Only 9% of managers and 13% of employees planned to go back to the office full-time in the next six months.

While 82% of managers and 80% of employees reported their companies created a communication strategy to support the sudden shift to remote work, more than one-third of companies with 2,500+ employees didn’t have communications strategies to accommodate long-term remote work. Of those who said their company had a plan in place, 56% of managers did not name resources or training for employees as a part of their long-term comms strategy.

“We have persevered through unforeseen challenges that have ushered in profound and persistent changes in how the world goes to work and communicates on a day-to-day basis,” said Mr. Atkinson. “Employees and managers need ever-sharper instincts on how to handle difficult conversations, especially in remote settings. That’s a non-negotiable for effective team dynamics. In this time when the nature of work is being reimagined, those who embrace the right tools and innovative opportunities to hone their instincts will reap tremendous benefits for their company and their colleagues.”

In January 2021, Mursion surveyed 400 full-time employees and 250 full-time managers or higher at companies with 2,500 or more employees across multiple industries to complete this report. The survey was conducted online, and responses were random, voluntary and completely anonymous. To learn more about the opportunities and challenges of communicating in a remote work environment, download the full report.

About Mursion
Powered by a blend of artificial intelligence and live human interaction, Mursion provides immersive VR training for essential skills in the workplace. Mursion simulations are designed for the modern workforce, staging interactions between learners and avatars to achieve the realism needed for measurable, high-impact results. Drawing upon research in learning science and psychology, Mursion harnesses the best in technology and human interaction to deliver outcomes for both learners and organizations.


"OOO, Out of Mind: The Unintended Impact of Remote Work on Critical Communication," a new workplace report on diversity, equity and inclusion from Mursion, the industry leader in virtual reality corporate training for emotional intelligence

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