With the widespread implementation of the remote work model that was fast-tracked by the COVID-19 pandemic, team leaders must redefine their communication and collaboration strategies. Remote teams are always culturally diverse and research shows they are more innovative and capable of exploring beyond their comfort zones. But bringing geographically distributed teams together to collaborate and cooperate can be tough. Fortunately, this article will share 10 ways to improve virtual communication and collaboration.
1. Select the Right Communication Technology for Each Task
Virtual teams have access to a variety of communication technologies, including email, video conferencing, chat platforms, social media channels, and web conferencing. Employees usually prefer to use tools they are accustomed to or the most convenient ones. But some technologies perform specific tasks better than others and using the wrong one can result in poor performance. So think about your tasks before choosing communication tools. For one-way communication, use text-based channels like chat, email, and bulletin boards. Use video conferencing and web conferencing when handling complex tasks like negotiations and problem-solving.
2. Develop Team Trust
Trust is the bedrock of any successful team, and it’s extremely crucial for remote teams. When there’s regular and effective communication, team trust will develop at a fast-paced rate. So, engage your team members regularly through daily updates, weekly meetings, and daily conversations. Developing a culture where team members are praised and offered constructive criticism rather than blames can also help build trust.
3. Come Up with Virtual Water Cooler Moments
Create ways for your virtual team to have quality time together, talk about non-work-related stuff, and build strong connections with each other. You can organize intra-team coffee sessions to provide opportunities for team members to engage in some enjoyable, casual conversations. You can also create forums on your message board for photography enthusiasts, cooking lovers, avid travelers, pet lovers, and more. The goal here is to create a feeling of belongingness and spaces where people can casually interact with others and probably share knowledge in the process.
4. Adopt Open and Inclusive Communication Strategies
Distributed teams mostly consist of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences. To get the most out of your remote team’s diversity, you must implement open and inclusive communication strategies. Be sure to involve the entire team in crucial communications and company decisions. Seek perspective and opinions from everyone to show openness to diverse ideas. Also, come up with effective conflict management strategies and be sure to incorporate ideas and suggestions from the team.
5. Develop a Standardized Document for Flawless Process Control
Every team member should have clearly defined roles, tasks, and goals. A clear way to measure performance must also be put in place. All these details should be captured in a shared dedicated document to offer everyone easy access. That way, team members will know what’s expected of them as well as their teammates. In turn, assigned roles and responsibilities will greatly increase focus and productivity.
6. Reward or Acknowledge Achievements
When people are rewarded or recognized for good work, they tend to become more motivated and focused. This applies to even your virtual teams. Send personalized messages to team members when they accomplish a specific goal. You can also give them bonuses and raises, especially if the profits you’re getting can accommodate that.
7. Effectively Manage Time Zone Differences
If your teams are distributed across different continents, you must come up with ways to manage work across different time zones. Otherwise, you may create gaps or isolate some team members. Implement a system that can tell you who is available at what time and leverage the many innovative tools out there to effectively manage time zones. Boomerang and Spacetime.am are perfect examples of reliable tools for managing time zone differences. If you have remote workers working from other countries than the country of origin, or if you have an entire team in a different country altogether, such as Hong Kong, for example, you can always employ international PEO services to manage your team effectively.
8. Set Up Knowledge Spaces
Get everyone on the same page by streamlining and centralizing information. Ensure team members can locate valuable information effortlessly, reuse it, and modify it. Having knowledge spaces where everyone can find important information will eliminate miscommunication and repetition.
Pro Tip: Make sharing and opening of files a cinch by ensuring your virtual teams have the right zip file opener.
9. Build a Professional Work Environment
The virtual work environment should be comfortable and professional. Encourage your team members to put on professional attires and work from an environment that is free from distractions.
10. Host Face-to-face Meetings Occasionally
Try to host in-person meetings at least once a year. Decide on the venue and dates in advance, so that virtual team members can have something to look forward to. These in-person meetings provide a chance for employees to connect, develop trust, and strengthen company culture.
Virtual teams can contribute to the success of your business if they communicate and collaborate effectively, thoughtfully, and efficiently. The 10 tips highlighted in this article can help you improve the efficiency, flexibility, and creativity of your virtual teams.
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