One of the biggest things that can make or break any business is the ability to communicate. Whether you are working from home, working in an office, or working at a blue-color job, communication is key. While in most physical locations you have several ways to communicate effectively, virtual communication can be a real problem.
Communication is very important for managers because it keeps the wheels of protection turning and allows for problems to be nipped in the bud before they become serious. Additionally, having a manager come up and congratulate an employee or tell the team they are doing a good job is very good for morale.
Communication for virtual teams can be a little bit harder, but it is no less important, and having a good communication system is one of the cornerstones of a good virtual business. If your email, messenger, and other lines of communication breakdown, then work stops getting turned in on time.
There are several different ways to communicate effectively whenever you are dealing with virtual team members and here are 20 of the best ways to do so. However, first, let’s take a look at the pros and cons when it comes to communicating virtually for work.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Communication
- It teaches people to communicate and express themselves in different manners to get their point across.
- Some find that they have an easier time ‘speaking up’ because they don’t feel tension in group chats as they would if they were stuck in a meeting.
- Virtually, it can be difficult or near impossible to read body language. Some see this as a huge disadvantage, especially managers or supervisors.
How to Effectively Communicate At Work
1. Recognize The Working Hours
One of the major benefits of working from home is the ability to set your own hours. It is hard to manage time pressure for hybrid workers. While most people work during normal business hours, there are some who work late nights, early mornings, and everything in between.
Even though employers might want everyone clocking in at a specific time, that’s not how remote working works. Unless you’ve given a team member a specific deadline, recognize that your working hours are not their working hours.
2. Have Easy Access To Everything
Everyone hates it whenever the boss asks for something, and what follows is a lengthy email chain back and forth asking for clarification and figuring out where everything is. To avoid this and create more effective communication in the workplace, make sure that your employees have access to everything and that they know where to find what they need.
3. Make Sure You Know About Time Zones
Nothing is more frustrating than setting an assignment to be due at 3:00 pm, and you wait around until 4:00 pm. Only then do you realize you forgot about the time zones! Make sure to keep them in mind and covert if necessary.
4. Designate Remote Channels
With all of the various apps on your phone and computer, people can reach you in more ways than ever. For people with questions, this can be overwhelming because there are too many ways to reach you. To eliminate confusion and clutter, and also combat virtual meeting fatigue, one of the best ways to communicate effectively is to designate your private messages for urgent questions, and email for larger questions that aren’t urgent when you communicate with your team.
5. Measure Results
It’s easy to think of a non-communicative employee as being lazy or simply non-communicative. However, if they bring in high quality work on time, then what does it matter? Look at the results, and make sure that they measure up.
6. Shorten Communication Tasks
If you are taking time out of your day to handwrite every email or answer the same question ten times, that’s too much time. Instead, make email templates or create an FAQ section to help you out. That is an effective way to communicate.
7. Make Your Intent Clear
In emails and private messages, always make sure to keep your intent clear and your needs at the forefront. If you need something done now, then make it clear with facts, and don’t just hope that your tone can be conveyed through effective communication in the workplace.
8. Keep Things Specific
Going with the above point, make sure that you have everything specific in your messages. Give dates and times, and even send a follow up email to make sure that everything is understood. This helps to avoid remote management mistakes.
9. Have Virtual Office Chats
If you want your team to communicate with both you and one another, you should schedule virtual calls where everyone can talk. You might not have the office chair and office desk, but you do have the people.
10. Remember the Human
It’s easy to see workers as workers whenever they are in the office. Outside of it, remember that your employees are humans who have lives of their own, and they might not get back to you right away.
11. Pick the Proper Tools
With all of the online management tools out there in the world, it can be tough to pick one that can help you communicate with your team. Make sure to analyze your needs and then find the system that works for you.
12. Set Expectations for Meetings
Meetings can either be the best thing in the world, or a massive waste of time for all involved. One of the best ways to communicate effectively and to have your meetings be the former, you should set expectations for them, so no one gets off track. Then, you can have essential remote worker communication before the meeting even starts.
13. Have Fun
Sometimes it seems like the endless stream of communication goes on forever. To lighten the load, have fun. It is one of effective ways to communicate. Don’t just communicate with the worker on the other end but have a conversation when you manage the remote team. Ask how they are doing!
14. Keep Knowledge Nearby
If your business has a set of rules or guidelines that help it run effectively, then make sure they are in an easily accessible place in your smart office.
15. Try To Meet in Person
This might be a logistical nightmare for some businesses, but for others, it can be a great way to re-connect. Talk to your clients and see if you can meet in person!
16. Give Good Feedback
Feedback on the internet can be a little scary, especially since tone is very hard to convey. Make sure to take the time to write out feedback so you get your points across. So, try to understand motivation rules to know what you should do and what you need to prevent to motivate others.
17. Get Helpers
After a while, you might decide that the burden of communication is too much. When that comes, recruit some helpers to keep up your high quality of communication.
18. Batch Replies Together
Sometimes you might be able to batch replies together and copy paste an email to three people, rather than writing out everything three different times. Batch where you can and save time.
19. Be Patient
Virtual communication is a seemingly endless job, and your patience is required with each and every email. If you feel overwhelmed, one of effective ways to communicate is to take a break. Otherwise, you may face virtual meeting fatigue and it decreases your work productivity.
20. Keep Improving
Finally, virtual communication is an evolving process and you need to know essential communication skills to better deal with it. There is always going to be a new thing to do or a new piece of tech to try out. Try not to get comfortable and always keep pushing the envelope of how your team can connect.
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