• Company culture

Virtual team communication: Best strategies

Isadora De Angeli

Team communication has always been crucial for companies to achieve successful results and to build a strong company culture. Nowadays, with the current pandemic scenario, virtual team communication becomes a necessity and it tends to remain that way. Studies have shown that 92% of the people would like to work remotely after COVID-19 pandemic at least once a week.

What is team communication?

In short, team communication is the interaction between coworkers within a firm. The concept goes beyond just assigning tasks to your subordinates in a project. It is fundamental to build the foundation of team collaboration and to create a good work environment. Effective business communication is essential in any organisation.

A good communication yields to a solid ground for team creativity and innovation. It enables the flow of ideas and diverse views. Therefore, it improves the high quality of decision making. Additionally, it increases the culture of belonging and inclusion in an organisation and builds trust.

What is virtual team communication?

Virtual team communication is the interaction in the work environment when done remotely. It is usually done through many platforms such as Slack and Google Drive.

Virtual team communication has a significant impact on productivity. If an employee does not need to wait hours for a response and instead gets the information needed quickly, the job will definitely be tackled faster. It is important to manage the team’s focus time and at the same time keep the communication clear, to ensure the results are not compromised.

With COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of jobs had to be done virtually. This requirement has made many firms consider remote work a standard from now on. Many organisations will keep the remote work for some teams after the pandemic or at least they will provide the possibility of a hybrid work schedule, in a mixture of in-office and work from home.


Challenges of virtual team communication

Although there are many advantages of working remotely, such as flexibility, time and cost savings, this format has also brought some challenges. The virtual form is more complex than the communication in person and usually coworkers feel disconnected from each other. Some of the challenges faced are:

  • Interactions are more formal and less spontaneous. 
  • It is not possible to use the body language signals, especially in a call without using the video.
  • Employees are more likely to have misunderstandings.
  • Lack of clearness in the communication can lead to rework.
  • A shy employee can be too hesitant to speak out in group meetings, afraid of talking over their colleagues.
  • Due dates can be forgotten because of lack of frequent projects’ updates.

On top of that, there are always the challenges regarding the use of technology remotely such as internet connection issues.

Building trust

Trust has always been an issue for some organisations. There is no better example of lack of trust than the organisations that use employee spying tools to take screenshots of the employees’ computer screen. These extreme cases still happening ensure the need to let these patterns go and start to build trust between employees and companies.

With remote work, it is even more difficult to build trust. In a traditional team, you could meet your colleagues often in person and trust was usually naturally influenced by familiarity and affinity. Regarding remote work, the trust is basically built in work related topics. It arises from the development of interactions during the execution of a task or a project with a group and the collaboration held between team members. For this reason, it is critical to tackle the work issues, but also to complement the interactiveness with virtual team building activities. And when the situation allows, continue with this team bonding pattern with other options of team building activities.

It is recommended that managers measure performance with results. You can’t track every minute of your employees’ work schedule and you shouldn’t. Allowing them to organize their own schedule will lead them to work when they feel more productive and therefore, to acquire better outcomes.

As a manager, you can help to enhance trust on a remote team with these actions:

  • Encourage all workers to answer each other promptly.
  • Provide frequent feedback.
  • Suggest solutions for the team’s problems.
  • Be supportive and positive in the interactions.

Best practices to strengthen remote communication

In addition to the actions suggested above to build trust in your company, there are other practices that can be used to ensure a great virtual team communication:

  • Improve the company culture

Make sure all the team knows the values and vision of the company. They should develop their tasks keeping these values in mind as a principles’ guide.

Strengthen personal connections between employees encouraging them to have more interactions apart from job related topics. Provide space where they can talk about goals, interests, and family.

Encourage a watercooler conversation before starting meetings. 5 minutes of small talk can make everyone feel included and more comfortable to speak up later on to share their point of view.

    • Information sharing

    Create a practice of sharing information. Cloud or other platforms can be used to share documents. That way you guarantee that no information is lost and all the team is on the same page and have enough background to give insights and make decisions.

    Provide daily quick updates. That can be done in quick morning meetings to see the progress of the main projects and to foresee any problems that might come up and how to solve them.

    Bring individual feedback periodically to your team members and the means so they can improve themselves. certain skills.

      • Stay organised

      Determine the toolkit that will be used for the team while working remote and make sure all the questions are clarified. Virtual teams rely on clear digital communication and access to the right technology, so choose your platforms wisely.

      Here some examples of platforms and their uses:

        • Clear communication

        It is crucial to make all the information clear. Not only about the goals that need to be achieved, but the tasks and processes that need to be done to get there. Give the team all the details necessary for understatement and don’t be afraid to over-communicate, especially in remote work.

        Delegate the work properly and introduce all the necessary information in the shared documents. Once it is clarified who is in charge of what and by when, the team communicates better between themselves and go directly to the person in charge to solve a particular issue.

          Make sure you don’t count on your team to be ‘always available’ just because they are working from home. Contact them during the working hours and if you need to send a message or email after this time, clarify that they can answer it the next day.

          Let the workers be free to organise their own work schedule.

          Be realistic about the due dates you ask for and also be sincere about the level of importance of specific tasks, so they can prioritise their tasks effectively.

          • Face-to-face communication

          Replacing the natural face-to-face connection is not the easiest task but it’s not impossible. Encourage your team to turn the cameras on in your video conferences. That way you can create a more interactive environment that allows body language reading and some sort of eye contact.

          kiwiHR supports your HR management

          Every team and company have their own particularities. As a manager you should analyse and check what could be the best actions to put in practice that might work to empower you and your employees towards a better virtual team communication. Nevertheless, always be clear and inclusive in your interactions and seek to integrate the team’s ideas and be open to discuss different opinions.

          HR systems like kiwiHR can play a crucial role in the new working remotely format. Features like time and attendance and absence management among others can be a guide to digital HR strategy. The software reduces administrative work, improving productivity and efficiency for HR managers. Companies can now focus on what really matters, their people.

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