Communication in a Virtual Workplace
A remote team of workers rely on good communication to collaborate effectively. There are many different channels available for use in a virtual workplace, and it is important that they are used strategically and considerately by all. Here is an overview of some important considerations when it comes to communication in a virtual workplace:
Choosing Communication Channels
If people are communicating across many different channels with no real pattern, it is easy for communications to be misunderstood or even missed completely. A little structure goes a long way and taking the time to decide together which communication tools to use for which purpose will make all the difference.
When teams are based in different countries or distinct cultural contexts, it is easy for misunderstandings to arise. The style of communication may be different and may receive a different reaction from somebody in another cultural context. Cultural norms around communication may be quite different, so teams should be encouraged to be aware and informed about the different cultural contexts team members are coming from.
Agreements and Boundaries
Create some agreements and boundaries with your virtual workforce on how you will work together. These might include turn-around or response times, which technology or file-sharing platform you will use, communication etiquette and expectations, and how regularly you will meet virtually or face to face. When everyone is clear and in agreement on these kinds of expectations from the start, there is less chance of frustrations or misunderstandings developing around communication.
Virtual working can unfortunately lead to a lack of trust within a team if communication is neglected. Members of the team are unable to see where the other is and what they are doing, communication experiences a lag due to time zones and there may be a lack of familiarity and intimacy. Setting clear expectations and consistently meeting them can help to build trust within your team.
Check out this short video (3 mins) about how to build trust in your virtual team: