Virtual communication is a new way of approaching people, that requires following a certain protocol, since it can't rely on the effect of physical presence. However, thanks to the many practical and useful tools available through current technology and online human resources, using the virtual mode doesn't have to be an impediment to maintaining good communication between team members.
Some virtual communication challenges within work teams
- Non-verbal language: Communication in the virtual world must be understood without the aid of the face-to-face element: non-verbal language, such as gestures and movements, etc. We recommend you not to use conference calls and to start using video for all your communications.
- Message reception: Sometimes emails or messages can be misinterpreted, and can lead to confusion, which can cause isolation among team members.
- Multicultural teams: Cultural and time zone differences can distort meaning and cause widely diverse work dynamics.
- Technical communication errors: Although virtual communication is the product of technology, sometimes errors can cause interference and make communication between work team members difficult.
Communication process within a virtual work team
Activate virtual communication channels at all company levels and make them bidirectional.
- How? Create spaces in all the meeting for people to express themselves.
Establish basic protocol in order to maintain a favorable collaborative environment and communication within the work team.
- How? During meetings create turns and send the agenda 2 days before the meeting so everybody can prepare.
Detect negativity issues that arise within the team in order to address them and solve them.
- How? Take the person aside and talk on a 1:1 basis with them. Speak quietly and actively listen to your team.
Create strategies in order to strengthen participation and active listening, and thus fostering a team voice.
- How? Use team activities related to your project that will create a safe environment and make shy people speak up.
Set up feedback and reporting processes that permit clear and complete access to project information.
- How? Distributed teams need super communication and a lot of effort from the manager, make sure you are providing guidance in an assertive way to your team.
Foment bridges of virtual communication between team members in order to foment synergy and teamwork.
- How? Empower your team by letting team members meet with other team members and participate in transversal projects. This way you will avoid boredom.
Plan and carry out virtual encounters with the work team in order to strengthen team cohesion, a sense of belonging and confidence among team members.
- How? Prepare monthly meetings that always start with an ice-breaker and that lets team members find ways to solve their problems and be creative.
Create a prevention plan in order to avoid breakdowns in communication. In this short course you will learn how to prepare meetings with your distributed team.
- How? Use the right technology: stop using conference calls and start using video. A big part of the message we perceive comes from body language, the more information we have, the less misunderstandings there will be.
Tools to strengthen virtual communication
- Creation of a virtual space that represents the office; for instance, a team "chatroom", forums, etc.
- Support documentation and material such as manuals, reports, feedback, templates, checklists, etc.
- Video conferences and teleconferences that help to improve communication and work relations. Learn how to promote internal communication in the distributed office.
- Use collaboration tools so you can have less meetings and less emails. You don't know which ones are good for you? We can help you, just contact us.
- When email is necessary, send clear and friendly emails.
- Forums in which the team can interchange ideas.
- Virtual parties and events that strengthen group synergy.