Is There a Secret to Virtual Team Communication?The Flow TeamLast Updated: September 1, 2020
Remote work is gradually becoming the new norm for many teams around the world. Maintaining open channels for virtual team communication is imperative for project success. For managers of remote teams, it’s especially important to strike a balance between too little communication and over-communicating (or micromanaging) in order to support productivity and morale.
By implementing effective communication strategies and the right tools to keep everyone in the loop, you can bolster a high level of productivity and collaboration.
Strategies for Effective Virtual Team Communication
With in-person meetings, meaningful team interaction happens even without a manager’s efforts. Team members bond over lunch or coffee breaks, and these interactions and connections contribute to the overall success of projects.
While it comes with important benefits, remote collaboration is easier said than done. You might wonder if your team is motivated enough to handle the inherent challenges. With team members working in different time zones, are people feeling isolated due to the lack of in-person interactions? Everyone has a different working style and different needs for support. Is there any friction among team members that impedes collaboration and quality of work?
These strategies can help you achieve effective virtual communication among team members:
- Maintain transparency: Help your team understand the objectives and expectations behind the tasks at hand, empowering them to take responsibility for the bigger picture. Building trust is the key to team building, and you, as a manager, can help facilitate this trust by sharing inclusive agendas, meeting summaries, and regular project updates.
- Proactively manage project timelines: With powerful project management software, you can keep your entire team up to date with clear project timelines. Reliable notifications help to keep priorities straight and help team members to stay on top of their responsibilities without the need for micromanagement.
- Organize and share resources: A cloud platform allows team members to create, organize, and share resources, streamlining workflow and reducing unnecessary stress.
- Invite direct communication: Scheduling weekly one-on-ones with team members keeps the channel open for regular feedback. It’s a chance for you to understand the problems they are facing and the support they really need. Although you’re unable to meet in-person, video calls go a long way toward making conversation easier and building trust and connection.
- Increase team engagement: Facilitating spontaneous conversations—both work-related and personal—with internal chat tools helps your team communicate easily and naturally. By regularly celebrating personal and professional successes, organizing happy hours, and virtual team activities, you can help your team feel more connected and engaged overall.
- Promote growth with ongoing training: When you regularly assess your team’s progress and organize training accordingly, you’re investing in real skills for success. Remote work does make it more challenging to draw these connections, but modern tools for communication and collaboration make it possible.
These virtual team communication strategies won’t be nearly as effective without the right tools. In fact, the best tools will not only help you overcome the particular challenges of remote work—they will also help you take full advantage of this open-ended opportunity.
Tools Fit for Remote Team Collaboration
Transitioning your team to remote work requires the right applications to increase engagement and sustain productivity. These remote work tools and features are critical for successful virtual team communication and collaboration:
- Cloud-based storage system: To organize and share files in one place, cloud-based storage is an absolute necessity for productivity and project success. Google Drive, Sharepoint, and Dropbox are some of the most popular applications remote teams use for easy access, sharing, and organization. And their functionality is optimized when these apps can integrate with your other tools.
- Internal chat application: To facilitate internal and instantaneous messaging among team members, a chat application is an easy solution. For the greatest flexibility and efficiency, managers look for chat tools that allow private messaging, group chat channels, and all-team communications. Slack is a favorite because it works seamlessly with other remote tools. Even better are chat tools that are built into a centralized platform and already integrated with its diverse suite of tools for easy navigation, searching, and linking.
- Video conferencing application: Video communication is indispensable for virtual team success. Flexible applications allow you to take advantage of one-on-one video conversations and company-wide calls—and everything in between. Zoom and WebEx are common and make scheduling and seamless set up easy.
- Task management software: Don’t underestimate task management software to help you hold all the pieces together. The right platform can ease some of your biggest concerns about virtual team communication and productivity with centralized systems: smooth tracking, easy task creation and management, customizable notifications, and built-in conversations. Ideally, you can manage everything from high-level timelines to individual conversations in one place.
Keep in mind that trying to juggle too many separate tools at once can actually create stress with remote work. For managers and team members alike, it’s easier to work on a single, integrated platform that addresses every aspect of virtual team communication and collaboration.
Redefining Virtual Team Communication
When you invest time and resources to adopt multiple remote work tools at once, the patchwork often costs much higher than expected and may not provide the best solutions after all. A successful virtual team depends on clear focus and reduced distractions. Your task is to facilitate truly productive conversations and collaboration despite the distance and remote challenges. It’s even more critical that you avoid wasted time and start with the very best tools to streamline workflow and open the doors for your team’s creativity and progress.
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