Virtual team communications, is something that was quickly forced upon many businesses and teams, due to pandemic restrictions, but how many people feel their team communications are at their optimal potential? Even though many have had to use virtual communications, as the predominant method of communications, there has been no time to focus on how to enhance virtual communications and ensure that they are running as effectively and efficiently as they possibly could.
Operating as a virtual team presents several obstacles that are not as palpable or prevalent when in a co-located environment. Effective human communication is very dependent on several factors such as tone of voice, body language and other non-verbal cues that come together to form an understanding of how someone is addressing a topic. The lack of this invaluable information often leads to misunderstandings, decreased professional relationship building/rapport building, and decreased effective efficient communications.
There are several ways that virtual teams can overcome these barriers. From remote working studies that have been conducted since the enforcement of lockdowns, many remote workers have felt a lack of a ‘sense of belonging’ to their organisation when that organisation has maintained a rigid ‘9-5’ working mentality. They also said they experienced a lack of motivation if there was a lack of social support from their organisation. Team-building exercises and unstructured social interactions helped improve remote workers’ ‘sense of belonging’ and therefore improved their work motivation as well. A few factors that should be addressed by Management, discussed amongst the team and adequately implemented are:
Consideration of the software- Have you taken the time to think about the technological needs of your teams’ virtual communications? Are you using appropriate applications that allow your team members to clearly express topics or ideas and optimal collaboration?
Making time for social interaction- Does your team have purely social meetings where they can build rapport and get to know one another better? Do you have virtual ‘coffee breaks’ or social support meetings/activities?
Having a virtual co-working space- Do you have a time/space cut out for virtual co-working or at least present this as an option? How often do your team members get together to brainstorm or problem solve?
Have virtual operation and communication standards- Are there any best practice standards that your organisation has laid out for virtual communications to ensure that people are using the optimal form and time of communication? Do your employee's block out time for their core work so that they are not inundated with meetings? Is your organisation still trying to enforce a traditional ‘9-5’ working mentality in remote working?
Using these questions to help guide improvements to virtual team communications, will ensure that they are more effective and efficient, whilst also improving team members ‘sense of belonging’ and motivation, as a remote worker.