Establishing an effective virtual workplace is a topic that millions of brands are looking into since remote working became the new normal.
Current statistics show that, in the U.S., approximately 4.7 million employees work from home at least half of the week, with 44% of employees saying that their team is entirely remote. However, one of the most challenging aspects of running an effective virtual workplace is establishing and maintaining communications between team members.
If you’re struggling with this, then you’ll likely find these five tips for effective communication in the virtual workplace beneficial.
5 Tips for Truly Effective Communication in the Virtual Workplace
Studies have shown that communication is vital within the workplace and that there are many hurdles to overcome when establishing the most beneficial system for your team, especially teams going remote.
If you’re finding tension or difficulty communicating with your remote team, then you’ll want to explore these tips for establishing effective communication in the virtual workplace.
1. Learn Your Team’s Communication Patterns
One of the most common virtual team communication challenges is the misinterpretation of a message – especially a written message. In most cases, virtual teams use either a text-based application or video conferencing tool to communicate daily.
While video communications tools make it easier to understand a message because the receiving party can get a feel of your tone and demeanor, text-based tools, such as Slack and Hangouts, make it a bit more challenging.
It’s exceedingly challenging to portray the right tone via text messaging. Therefore, it’s crucial to get a feel for your team member’s communication patterns.
- Do they use exclamation points to convey excitement?
- Is the use of ellipses a sign of confusion or being upset?
- What about the use of emojis?
Understanding how these are used can help you better understand your team’s communication patterns, decreasing miscommunication.
2. Welcome Team Feedback
When working remotely, you need to foster an open line of communication that allows for the freedom of feedback. If your team feels unable to communicate their concerns openly, it will create a tense environment and lead to possible miscommunications.
3. Use the Right Tools
The right tools can make or break a team’s communication efforts quite easily. For instance, if you’re solely using a video conferencing tool for all communications efforts and a member of your team doesn’t have the bandwidth for continuous video – then they may feel they aren’t part of the team and don’t belong.
That’s one reason many teams use a suite of tools to help them run at peak capacity. Sure – video conferencing tools have their time and place but using them for essential meetings is much better than a “24/7” surveillance to ensure people are working while out of the office. Consider using a text-based communication tool, such as Slack, Mondays, or Asana, for regular communications/updates throughout the day.
4. Discourage an “Always-On” Culture
When it comes down to best practices for virtual communications, you must discourage an “always-on” culture. Technology is a wonderful thing; however, the tools used in remote working situations tend to lead employees to assume they always need to be on-call.
Therefore, you must communicate with your team about the importance of a proper work-life balance. Assure them that business hours are between specific hours and that they do not have to be available 24/7.
5. Have a Social Space for Your Team
All work and no play discourages open communication between team members. Think of it this way – if your team was working in the office, they would likely have a breakroom or “watercooler” to chat around.
When working from home, there needs to be that same sort of outlet. Not only does it help build relationships between you and your teammates, but it also helps encourage open communication.
Commonly used communication tools
Teams is a group collaboration software by Microsoft
Meet is a videoconferencing software by Google
Zoom is a video communication service
Slack is a collaboration platform by Slack Technologies
Proper Communication Begins with You
Proper communication is critical for any working environment. However, when it comes to working remotely, effective communication in virtual teams is an absolute must. Make sure you take the necessary time to get to know your employees and their communication behaviors to help avoid miscommunications, and always remember, you must practice what you preach. So, make sure you offer the same openness so your employees can get to know your communication patterns as well.
Reach employees at offices and production sites
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