As the economy begins to reopen, workplaces are slowly starting to open up again. But with more people used to working from home, research states that most people prefer the flexibility that comes with it. And even though working from home has proved possible and advantageous, it does present its challenges, especially when it comes to communication.
As numerous companies such as Google and Microsoft incorporate a hybrid work model, communication remains a key issue. Why? The distance and non-physical interaction among the workers can make them feel disconnected and take away from any team spirit. This can further impact productivity and progress.
But it doesn't necessarily have to be this way. With today's technology and communication tools, employees and employers alike can work remotely and communicate effectively at the same time. This is why, in this article, we’ll focus on how to best optimize virtual team communications.
What is Virtual Communication?
Virtual communication is the use of technology to communicate with team members without being in the same office. It takes away the need for physical presence without taking away from regular interactions. From video conferencing apps such as Desktop.com to sharing and storage tools such as Google Drive, numerous digital tools are available to today's professionals.
When used correctly, project managers and CEOs looking to organize their digital workplace can pull together their team and drive productivity. That is why establishing strong virtual communication is so essential. Not only can it pull teams together and produce high productivity, but it can also save the company resources, improve costs and elevate the customer experience. But before we get into how to optimize your company's virtual communication, let's discuss the challenges.
Challenges of Communicating Remotely?
As flexible as virtual communication can be, it can also be quite challenging. Below are some challenges that every employee goes through.
Easy To Get Distracted
Working virtually means that employees can work from anywhere. Whether it's the beach, a cafe, or at the dining table in their house, it's fair game as long as they are connected to the internet. But such environments, if not adequately controlled, can be too distracting, affecting communication and diminishing their efficiency. A good way to help address this is providing employees with a tool that shows an “active” status. Although this won’t directly tell you if they’re getting distracted doing other things during work hours, it can provide them with a sense of responsibility that they’ve checked in for the day and that they’re ready to work.
Too Many Tools, Too Much Confusion
When it comes to communication tools, businesses are spoiled for choice. But having employees use any and every tool can bring confusion in the workplace. This can make it hard for employees to remember which email or instant messaging app has the information they need for a specific project they're working on. Finding a dedicated communication platform to streamline all channels of communication can help with this hurdle.
No Non-Verbal Cues
Text messages take away from nonverbal cues, which account for 93% of communication. It allows one to better interpret a person's feelings, attitude, and even urgency about a particular matter. But when nonverbal cues are lost, miscommunication, conflict, and decreased engagement are likely to occur. With the use of high quality video chatting functionality, it becomes easier to overcome these obstacles and to communicate with your teammates in remote settings.
How To Communicate Effectively in Virtual Teams?
Yes, virtual communication does have its share of challenges. However, if appropriately managed, virtual communication can augment team collaboration and enhance productivity.
Have your employees utilize a storing and sharing tool such as Desktop.com to cater to the various time zones between workers. Tools like Desktop can also organize and categorize files, links, and apps between users and different workspaces. This way, workers can conveniently check on each other's progress and work without necessarily having to wait until they’re back online.
Have A Communication Plan
To minimize communication confusion in the workplace, identify the tools that employees should use and for what purpose. For instance, when it comes to instant messaging apps, have them use just one. Communication tools such as Desktop.com can be used for team meetings to discuss a new project or touch base and brainstorm on a current task.
Get to Know Your Employees and Team Members
Most workplaces, if not all, have a very diverse range of workers. Differences in ethnicity and culture do impact a person's communication style. Understanding the person's way of communicating can help minimize misunderstandings and enhance collaboration.
Managers and team members should also learn each other's personality types and values. This way, you'll know how to effectively communicate with an introvert or a working parent that relies on flexibility.
Emphasize Work Standards
So, you've noticed that your employees keep getting distracted. If it's not the constant yelling of the kids in the house, it's the delivery man at the door.
To help, you can emphasize work standards by encouraging them to find a noise-free room for the duration of the meeting. Also, set clear goals for them to work towards in their position. And with a schedule for them to stick to, they'll be more driven and focused on meeting set demands.
Be sure to conduct frequent check-ins. During these check-ins, ask about their progress, problems, or hindrances to their progress. Then brainstorm together on how to overcome those problems.
Creating the Ultimate Team Communication
Working virtually has numerous benefits. Employees tend to be happier, but without the knowledge on how to optimize virtual team communication, the benefits won't mean much.
By integrating a tool like Desktop.com for your organization, you allow team members to have customizable digital workspaces for apps, links, and communication - all in one place. By creating different desktop dashboards for yourself, your team and departments, you ensure secure accessibility to key resources for everyone on the team and keep all conversations conveniently organized within the same space. Ultimately, it’s about providing a hub of digital organization at its very best, making it easier for team communication and workplace management.