Tips for Communicating with a Virtual Team

communicating with a virtual team
communicating with a virtual team

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an enormous paradigm shift in how most organizations today function. While the pandemic itself is beyond us, and humankind is progressing towards a period of stability and economic redemption, it is pertinent to mention that many organizations aren’t willing to let go of remote work. 

The lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that many organizations had to open doors for remote work and work virtually. While there were some initial teething issues, organizations eventually came to terms with the situation. 

If you want to continue working remotely, even after the pandemic has subsided, it is time that you learned how to communicate with virtual teams. Virtual teams are a crucial part of remote work, and organizations prioritizing small work patterns should ensure that they come up with ways to communicate with their remote teams. 

This article looks at a few tips managers today can follow to communicate and connect effectively with their virtual teams. Follow these tips to prioritize communication even during remote work. 

Make Sure Everything is Accessible

Effective communication needs context, which can only be ensured by making everything accessible to concerned individuals in your firm. Therefore, remote teams need to provide access to all relevant information about what is being communicated. 

If you communicate with your teams through email, it is highly likely that miscommunications and misunderstandings to occur. The chances of miscommunication and misdirection are felt even more when multiple people are on the mailing list without any clear directions. 

Regardless of the communication channel you use for your communication; you should make sure that everything is connected and accessible to all the concerned stakeholders. Communication becomes clearer when all stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities, and all team members know what is expected of them. 

Set Correct Priorities

You must set your priorities correctly and communicate effectively with every team member. We understand that setting priorities can be challenging in remote teams compared to a team working from the office. However, this work setting makes it even more critical for managers to set clear and correct priorities for everyone to understand and follow. 

Everyone in your virtual team should segregate between to-do tasks based on their importance and recognize which one is more important than the other. Managers should preferably set the importance of different functions by themselves and not put employees in a tough spot. 

communicating with a virtual team

Select the Right Communication Channel

Selecting the right communication channel can make a world of difference when communicating with a virtual team. You must choose an appropriate medium for everyone to share and pass the information down to them. 

Email is still the most relevant communication tool used by virtual teams, but we don’t think it is the right choice anymore. Emails have certain limitations, which are experienced during difficult situations such as conflict management. 

Chat should be considered over email to solve problems on an ad hoc basis, to ask questions, and provide answers to common issues employees might have. All virtual teams need to establish some ground rules on the communication channels they consider and the scenarios that prompt a change. 

Switch on Webcam

Even after the extended period of remote work during the pandemic, not many individuals and organizations have come to terms with switching their webcam on. Many individuals consider it useless to turn on their webcam, mainly to communicate through a voice call. 

Humans tend to send several unconscious facial signals, which can only be identified during communication through a webcam. Without these visual expressions and gestures, many words are lost in audio, and the receiver does not get to realize the authentic tone and intention of the sender. Virtual meetings tend to gain additional value when they are organized with a webcam on. 

Know Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication

Productivity increases throughout the entire team when everyone works on their schedule and has their routine. Not all of your employees will have their chat window open all day and will not be available around the clock. 

Hence, if you communicate on a channel with an absence or availability indicator, you should take it seriously and not distract others when working. If you do have an important task, let the other person know when you need their approval and the final draft. 

Report Your Work

Virtual teams need to balance sharing everything employees have worked on during a day and working quietly without any meetings. 

The results of a workday should be summarized and mentioned to everyone in your team in a meaningful and structured manner. Experience from the workplace shows that such documentation is perceived well and helps motivate team members while improving communication. 

Create Room for Informal Communication

A remote team must take some space and time out for informal communication. Not all communication should be formal, as it kills the trust relationship between team members. You can have virtual coffee sessions during the day, arranged through a web conference, in which employees talk about their daily lives. 

You can also have sessions where employees introduce family members from home, including significant others, children, or parents. This keeps the social cycle moving and ensures the private connection most employees have with each other. 

Communication is all the more important for employees working within virtual teams. Managers should make sure that they follow the tips above and communicate in a structured manner.