Today’s work environment presents more opportunities for virtual teams. While many companies are seeing the value in having remote operations, some are struggling to adapt to new ways of doing things. As more and more staff work from home, effective virtual communication between people is critical. As businesses move more of their infrastructure online, it’s important that leaders understand the hurdles that virtual communication can sometimes present. Here, we’ll discuss the top 3 we hear about most often, and how to address them.
Differences in Communication Styles
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to interacting. Some might prefer email, while others want to jump right onto the phone. It’s important to create an environment that supports the method where each team member best communicates.
A smart practice is to set certain times of day when everyone must be online and available to talk. Have an expected level of communication. Do you expect to hear from employees once per day? Is there an appropriate timeline for responding to questions? Make these guidelines clear, and encourage brainstorming and collaboration the same as you would within an office environment. Differing communication styles require strong management to set the tone of the team and ensure productivity.
Almost everyone loves working from home, at least once in a while. That being said, there are downsides, including boisterous pets, street traffic, or other people in the home. Add in people who like to do busy work with their tv on, or music playing in the background, and it can be easy to get distracted. If distractions become too great, then eventually co-workers will stop reaching out which can really inhibit the day’s workflow.
Again, setting expectations from the top down will help here. Encourage each employee to have a dedicated workspace (not the dining room table). Before committing to virtual environments, host one-on-one meetings with each employee where you discuss the continuation of quality that is necessary. Each person should be welcome to work in the environment that they feel is best, but consider setting a group of standards for online meetings or group interactions (people should be alone, with quiet backgrounds, etc).
Relying on the Wrong Tools
When you’re in an office, it’s easy to discover gaps in technology. In a virtual environment, it can be harder to see how limitations with tools are contributing to a lack of productivity. When you are dependent on technology platforms to get your job done, it’s imperative that you are using the correct ones.
Your teammates will thrive when you provide the right tools. Take an inventory of the platforms necessary for your workflows and your processes. Do the tools that you currently provide get the job done for each stage of the work day? Some owners include a technology clause in contracts, where employees are loaned equipment until a certain amount of time when their own is shipped to them. Take a poll of your team regarding phone and virtual meeting tools to see how effective people think they are. If they are not contributing to your success, consider looking into new vendors.
An upgraded phone system can go a long way toward enabling virtual teams.
Your phone solution is on the front lines of effective virtual team communication. Voxtell’s business phone solution is powered by the latest VoIP technology to give you cutting edge features and intuitive controls, all backed up by the reliability and security of cloud communications.
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