Working remotely definitely has its advantages. Employees save time and money commuting, are often more productive when there aren’t constant distractions (we’re talking to you, birthday cake in the break room), and during our current pandemic, it’s much safer.
But like anything with advantages, there are also disadvantages. Employees that rely on one another to get a project done may face virtual team communication challenges that hamper their ability to succeed in their role. Without your teammate down the hall or a few cubicles over, it can be difficult to collaborate on tasks and truly foster that spirit of “teamwork.”
The good news is there are ways to improve virtual team communication so your rock star employees play together like a well-tuned band. But before we dive into that, let’s look at some of the virtual team communication challenges you might be facing.
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Common Virtual Team Communication Challenges
If your organization has gone to a virtual workplace, you may be seeing some of these issues within your organization:
- Individuals aren’t clear on who is doing what and by when
- Employees don’t know what goals they are working toward
- Team members feel isolated and are suffering from low morale
- Employees are drowning in emails
- Arguments or resentment are breeding because of misunderstandings
These are just some of the virtual team communication challenges your team may be experiencing. So what can you do about them?
4 Ideas for Better Virtual Team Communication
Nothing will ever beat face-to-face communication, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have great communication within a virtual team. There are a number of tweaks you can make to your current style to ensure that every individual feels heard, in-the-know, and able to accomplish their job with a minimal amount of frustration.
Use Software and Online Tools
Technology has come a long way over the past few years. We now have the ability (for little money) to communicate with people anywhere in the world. Are you utilizing the following types of software in your organization yet? And if not… what are you waiting for?
This software (and other software like it) allows you to be in the same “room” even when you’re not. See your entire team in real time and have a conversation or brain storming session.
Project Management Software
This type of technology allows you to transfer “ownership” of a task from one person to another, create notes so everyone is on the same page, add due dates to each step of the project, and much more.
Online Messaging Apps
Your employees can now get answers to simple questions quickly and efficiently. It’s the next best thing to popping your head over your neighbor’s cubicle.
Once you’ve figured out what challenges you are facing, there’s most likely a software solution that will fit your virtual team communication needs.
Create a Check-in Schedule
Virtual work is a great way to prevent micromanagement of your employees. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what’s going on or give them direction and motivation on a regular basis.
One way to keep this line of communication open is to create a check-in schedule. Maybe you need to speak with your employees every morning to assign work (and maybe at the end of the day to make sure it was done). Or perhaps, you only need to touch base once a week to see how they are progressing.
Find what works best for your individual situation and make sure that employees know the expectations ahead of time so the meetings are quick and productive.
Establish Communication Guidelines
Most employees are familiar with “in the office” communication guidelines, but do they know what to do when the conversation goes virtual?
Create a document that explains expected virtual team communication and best practices. This may include when it’s appropriate to use specific modes of communication (phone, email, messenger, Zoom, etc.) and how employees should behave when using these methods. For example: limiting background noise and staying muted on Zoom, not including unnecessary recipients on emails, and using the BCC field so no one clicks the dreaded Reply All button, etc.
To save yourself and your team frustration, encourage them to pick up the phone whenever they have something to say that could potentially be taken wrong in an email or is too big of a discussion for an email.
Host a Webinar or Online Event
A webinar or online event helps you gather your entire team in one place to learn new tactics, make sure everyone knows what’s going on, and help people to feel comfortable with their work and their coworkers.
If you need some added support, Team Building Motivational Speaker Marvelless Mark Kamp can help get your team communicating like rock stars.
Enhance Communication With Your Virtual Team
Once the danger passes, working remotely will still be a viable option for many businesses and teams. Ensuring that your virtual team communication is the best it can be will ensure that your business continues to thrive well into the future.