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managing virtual teams

Virtual teams and effective communications

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have quickly become the new normal. Managers now face a fresh set of challenges as everyone transitions to the reality of working from home.

The challenges and distractions are numerous. Children seeking attention, family dogs barking, slow broadband connections, or even accidentally turning yourself into a potato on a conference.

Maintaining effective lines of communication and keeping team members motivated is a key concern.

The following strategies will help you establish and maintain good communications, while adhering to social distancing.

Create a communication plan.

Consistency is crucial to good communication, and teams need more discipline and structure in virtual settings. Working with you team to agree how they will communicate is the best way to bring these qualities about. The exact nature of the plan will depend on your specific needs, but it should instruct everyone on what mode of communication they should use in varying scenarios.

Use the right technology at the right time. 

Not every question needs an answer via videoconference. And if you want that design reviewed, don’t share it via WhatsApp to be viewed on the small screen. We have a vast selection of tools at our disposal, but encourage the use of the right tools at the right time. The simple approach often wins out here. Set your expectations early on and lead by example. 

Schedule regular team meetings

Regularity is important as it establishes a schedule, in advance, to which everyone can adhere. Use this time to problem solve, exchange ideas, and explore alternate strategies. And don't forget to celebrate success and share best practice. These meetings are a great way for your team members to reconnect and to assess group performance.

Have regular individual meetings

Don’t forget to schedule meetings with each individual in your team. For some, group settings can be daunting, even more so on a video conference, causing some to clam up for safety. One to one interactions between managers and team members are essential. You can use these meetings for performance reviews and feedback, giving time to hear concerns or barriers you can help to overcome. 

Keep things real

For many, home working is brand new. Doing it with children present even more so. Most people in your team won't have the luxury of a home office or dedicated work space, so be mindful and sympathetic to this fact. Invite the kids onto the conference call, ask to meet the family dog, do a show and tell of everyone's working environment. Make it fun and accessible. 

These guidelines are a start. Make them your own, but make sure you use them. They’ll keep your team’s communication open and inclusive which will help innovation and collaboration. 

Good communication also plays a huge role in creating a positive workplace culture, which in times like these has never been more important. 

For more information, our employee work from home guide provides insights helping employees to optimise their productivity whilst getting used to this new dynamic. Share this guide with your team today. 

Dani Booth - Head of Digital
Dani Booth
Digital evangelist proving expertise and guidance on the transformative power of digital to deliver leading customer experiences and aid effective communication.