According to a survey carried out by Global Workplace Analytics, 4.7 million employees work from home for at least half their work week. This means, organizations allow at least partial telework for around 40% of the workforce.
With more employees working remotely, organizations are having to rethink communication and how to effectively interact with their virtual team members. Today we will explore Communication in Virtual Teams!
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So How Can We Improve Communication in Virtual Teams?
There used to be a time when you would meet all your coworkers in person and on a daily basis. While that still may be the case for some, employees are using modes of video communications such as Skype or Zoom to interact with coworkers. This can be due to the large number of employees working remotely or simply having clients that live in a different city, state or country!
According to the State of Remote Work Survey, 21% of employees reported a lack of collaboration and communication as remote workers. So how can we improve communication in virtual teams?
Whether it's texting, instant messaging, email or Skype, identify the modes of communication your team wants to use and its purpose.
Proactively share information about your day or general environment. Lack of face to face interactions can often result in "losing touch" with those around you. By encouraging social interactions virtual interactions are humanized.
Using your camera allows for a more visual experience throughout the meeting. By seeing your coworkers expressions, you can tap into your emotions and its responses to others on screen.
Apply the Five
Now that you know how to improve communication in virtual teams. Let's take a look at how we can improve our Digital Body Language!
Find Your Voice:
- Be intentional about how you structure communication. Try and understand what the reader's perception may be if you put a period or exclamation on an email or text.
- Respond to emails on time! Given the lack of face to face in virtual team settings, by simply acknowledging an email you create a sense of belonging.
By understanding the cues and signals you send virtually, you can avoid being misunderstood and create a positive digital environment for your virtual team members!
Learn How Evans Thrives!
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Meet Richard Herczeg!
As a project leader on numerous national and global virtual projects, I have honed a virtual team approach based on my own experiences, successful case studies and best practices. To mitigate for the lack of rich face to face interaction, if possible, a good robust live “All Hands” meeting is ideal – to help with the important Forming Team Stage followed by routine scheduled 1:1 dial in calls and the cornerstone virtual larger team meetings using tools like Zoom or WebEx.
The challenge with virtual meetings is keeping everyone engaged. I like to start by sending out a detailed agenda prior to the meeting. This creates a sense of responsibility for the entire team, because each member has responsibilities and goals from the prior meeting. I like to utilize all the features of the virtual tool, and not just conference call!
My steps usually include, making everyone sign in, using slides, interactive games, emojis, videos, video conference etc. to keep engagement levels high and similar to face to face communication. I believe in leveraging the strength of virtual tools by linking in attachments, recording sessions (especially if training) and Delphi techniques like polling to get shy members engaged. Preparing for interactions with virtual teams is more work, but worth it in helping meet team objectives.
Word of caution, besides dialing in early, if you're taking your meeting from home, watch out for the unexpected deliveryman, barking dogs, kids and remembering to hit mute when you blurt out “are you kidding me” – all have happened to me more than once!
Until Next Time...
Evans' Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley, Mahi Chopra and Nicole Anderson)
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)