Virtual communication is how people interact with others without being in the same room. It's used by remote teams in an office environment and practically every industry. For most employees, business communication takes place over many different channels:
Instant messaging apps: iMessage, Slack, or WhatsApp
Video conferencing software: Nextiva, Co-space, or Hangouts
Project management tools: Asana, Basecamp, or Trello
Email clients: Apple Mail, Outlook, or Gmail
Social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter
Phone calls: Desk phones, VoIP apps, mobile phones
It’s crucial to get communication right when you’re working remotely. You could be answering calls as a part of a virtual call center or managing a team of contractors. Effective business communication matters in any company. Why? It’s because virtual communication has a huge impact on productivity. When your team knows how to communicate well, they can get work done without waiting hours for a response.
Also poor communication between remote teams increases the chances of things going wrong. One in three companies has lost a customer due to internal communication issues. A further 30% have missed an important deadline. Reliable remote staff can hop on a virtual meeting to discuss time-sensitive tasks. They don’t need to rely on desk drive-bys to stay in the loop.
Remote team communication is hard. Here’s why:
1. Staffs located in different time zones pose a huge challenge for virtual communication. Time differences, especially at opposites ends of the globe are almost difficult to coordinate.
2. Subtle body language, essential for reading a person’s emotions vanish in a virtual message. Its difficult an emotion in a written text.
3. Company culture diminishes in virtual communication. There is no personal interaction and bonding in remote interaction, which can affect motivation and performance.
4. Working from home has many distractions, like family, servants, vendors, visitors etc. are a hindrance to continuity and productivity at work.
5. Communication can be confusing, as too many communication technologies being used, without any set any guidelines, causes more distractions leading to waste of productive time & energy.
6. Remote teams feel isolated, as there is no personal bonding.. When your team works from home, they don’t have anyone to keep them accountable.
How to improve virtual team communication.
Manage people, not technology. Ensure that the use of technology allows the maximum access & facility to communicate with clarity of thought and purpose.
Demonstrate cultural awareness for your team members. All businesses have a diverse range of people working together. Changing and adapting to allow for these these cultural differences can positively impact your communication..
Give easy access to information to get work done. Establish a system to share information to prevent that from becoming a problem
Schedule frequent team check-ins to prevent unexpected problems, when using a digital management tool that contains your deadlines for essential projects.
Be aware of time zone differences. Create a spreadsheet with your staff’s names, job titles, and time zones, linked to a time zone calculator for belter coordination.
Define channels for remote communication. A communications plan can help guide your decisions for specific tasks. Use Project management tools, Instant messaging, Emails, text messaging
Don’t monitor activity — measure results. Shift your perspective to measure results, not intraday activities. If you know a remote employee meets deadlines and produces superb work, encourage.
Trust your team to do well. Trust is essential for remote team leaders to let their team perform without their daily intervention.
Kill time-sucking “collaborative” meetings. Beware of planning too many meetings. They might feel collaborative, but they’re sacrificing productivity.
Set an example of proper business communication. An excellent place to start is encouraging staff to check their messages every half hour. That fits with the Pomodoro technique proven to boost productivity. Work and check in short bursts.
Document and clarify tasks and processes. Solve this problem by over-clarifying everyday tasks and processes. You can do this by: Record your screen, create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs}, Create task templates.
Eight ways to transform your remote meetings.
1. Set a clear agenda.
2. Only invite people who need to be there.
3. Ask your team to prep before the meeting.
4. Use a reliable meeting platform.
5. Provide training on how to host meetings properly.
6. Embrace your project management system.
7. Log notes for future meetings.
8. Make time for non-work discussions.
Colin is an Education Consultant, in the Education Technology industry, since 2006.
He has consulted and worked with several Central & State Universities, Institutes of Higher Learning, Corporates, in providing leading-edge learning solutions, both digital and off-line.
He constantly strives to source new methodologies of digital learning, to facilitate & improve the learning outcomes of language students.