Here is our list of the best virtual team communication tips.
Virtual team communication tips are ways to make sure your remote team communicates effectively while bringing successful results to your company. Examples include setting goals, scheduling check-ins, and providing consistent feedback. These tactics aim to ensure that teams remain productive when working virtually.
This list includes:
- ways to improve communication in virtual teams
- best practices for virtual communication
- communication rules for remote teams
Let’s get started!
List of virtual team communication tips
When working virtually, teams must communicate effectively. The group will benefit from clear communication, increasing productivity and employee satisfaction. Here are our best communication tips for virtual teams.
1. Take advantage of virtual communication tools
If you are looking for best practices for virtual communication, then begin by implementing the right tools. For example, although email helps get messages across to your company, there are more efficient ways to communicate online.
We suggest tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to help you quickly reach your teammates. These applications are a great way to connect with team members instantaneously through direct messaging and video calls.
Check out this list of remote work software.
2. Set clear expectations and goals
One of the best ways to improve communication in virtual teams is to set clear goals and expectations. If you establish expectations early, then your team will know precisely how to succeed at work.
On distributed teams, it is crucial to be as descriptive as possible when setting expectations. For example, if you expect employees to be online at 9 AM, then clearly tell your staff. Setting clear expectations will help you avoid misunderstandings or miscommunication.
When it comes to goal setting, it is best to share both team goals and individual goals with all employees. By sharing goals on a personal and team level, you will ensure that all teammates know where to collaborate and work independently.
Here is a list of goal-setting ideas for work.
3. Schedule team check-ins
Keeping employees in the loop is important when your entire team works remotely. Therefore, we recommend setting weekly team meetings. These meetings should be consistent touchpoints to review key projects, goals, and expectations.
Team check-ins are a great way to hold all team members accountable for their work. You can use this time to share:
- Important deadlines
- Current projects and status
- Wins for the week
- Ways to improve processes
- Obstacles and challenges
You will ensure that all employees are up-to-date on work initiatives by sharing consistent updates. In addition, weekly team check-ins will help your team communicate and collaborate efficiently.
4. Provide consistent feedback
When working in an office, you can conveniently give employees feedback in passing. When working remotely, however, the opportunities to connect with employees decrease tremendously.
It is crucial to provide your employees with consistent feedback. Regularly sharing your thoughts with team members will ensure they have a clear idea of their work performance. Feedback is also a great way to identify areas where employees can improve.
When providing feedback to employees, you should be intentional and mindful of their time. For example, setting up a 15 to 20-minute touch base weekly is sufficient to provide consistent feedback and monitor mood.
One-on-one meetings are perfect for providing feedback while ensuring you get your message across in the right tone. These meetings are also an ideal way to get an idea of each team member’s progress and potential areas of improvement.
5. Avoid micromanaging
If you are exploring best practices for virtual communication, then stop micromanaging. Working virtually comes with increased independence for both employees and managers. It is best to let teammates work in the way that best suits them.
For example, limit follow-ups to once or twice weekly rather than constantly checking on a project with an upcoming deadline. By reducing intrusions and oversight, you give employees freedom and independence to work effectively in their way.
If you have hired efficient employees with a wide range of skills, then you can have confidence in their abilities. Rest assured, your team can get their work done.
As a manager, it is best to manage results rather than tasks. For example, instead of managing an employee working on a weekly report, use benchmarks and deadlines to ensure your team’s success. If your employees meet these milestones, then you should be on track to success.
Learn more about the signs of micromanagement.
6. Watch your tone
It is more difficult to convey tone in a virtual setting than in an in-person environment. For example, take an instant message that says, “What is the ETA on your first draft for the blog?” While this question may seem harmless, an employee could think you are pressuring them to work faster. Although you may mean no harm by your message, employees cannot sense your tone through text, which can result in added pressure.
An alternative could be: “Hi, Jerry! No rush, but I just wanted to check in on the blog project. Do you have an ETA on when a first draft may be ready?”
By being mindful of language, you send a warmer tone through your message. As a result, your conversation is sure to go smoother.
7. Be mindful of your body language
When communicating through video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google Meet, and BlueJeans, it is important to consider how your body language may translate on camera.
Here are a few tips to help you present your best self on video calls:
- Do not slouch in your chair
- Maintain eye contact with speakers
- Do not cross your arms
- Do not get distracted by your surroundings
In addition to body language, be mindful of your facial expressions while others speak.
For example, if a team member suggests adding one more weekly call to the calendar, do not scrunch your face in disgust, even if you do not like the suggestion. Instead, maintain a neutral facial expression throughout the meeting.
Negative body language and facial expressions can decrease employee engagement and cause less effective communication. Instead, show only positive or neutral body language to encourage employees to engage and collaborate.
8. Be an active listener
Communication is a two-way street. Therefore, it is essential to make your voice heard and listen to the feedback that employees share with you.
Active listening means paying closer attention to a conversation rather than passively hearing the speaker. Here are a few tips to help you become an active listener at work:
- Try not to multitask during meetings
- Give all your attention to the teammate who is speaking
- Provide your feedback and thoughts during the conversation
- Keep an open mind and respond appropriately
By actively listening to your teammates during team meetings and one-on-one calls, you will better understand their feelings and what kind of support they may need.
9. Prevent distractions
A general rule for virtual teams is to use their time wisely. For example, you should avoid straying away from the topic during team meetings.
One way to prevent distractions is by planning. We recommend putting together a meeting agenda for upcoming team calls. By having an agenda ready, you will make sure that you have a designated time slot to go over each topic.
An agenda will also help you stay on topic and avoid going over time. You can set aside 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the call for a quick roundtable or question and answer session. Employees can share any questions or opinions with the group during this time.
10. Consider time differences
When your team works from different locations, it is critical to respect each team member’s time. For example, one teammate might be located in New York City, whereas another employee may work from Los Angeles, California. As a result, these employees have a three-hour time difference between them.
Time differences are not uncommon in today’s workforce. Here are a few tips to help you better manage the differing time zones among your teammates while prioritizing effective communication:
- Create a shared calendar
- Schedule team meetings during a time that is convenient for all attendees
- Record meetings for those who are not able to attend
- Prioritize collaboration time
Another important rule is not to reach out to employees after hours. Remember, even though you may be on the clock, your coworker across the country may have signed off hours ago. In addition, you can encourage team members to mute notifications and mark themselves as unavailable when they do not wish to be disturbed.
Being mindful of your team members’ time zones will create a positive environment for clear communication and effective collaboration.
11. Be flexible
When you are working in an office, it is easier to get to know your teammates personally. However, in a face-to-face work setting, it is easier to note if team members have different obligations, such as school drop-off at 8 AM or school pick-up at 3 PM.
In a virtual setting, however, you may not be aware of any obligations your teammates have outside of work. For example, if you send a coworker an instant message early in the morning, you may be concerned if you do not receive an instant response.
As a result, being aware of your teammates’ needs and responsibilities is vital. It would help if you also were as understanding and accommodating as possible. For example, if an employee needs one hour in the day to pick up their kids from school, allow them to take that hour and make it up at the end of the day instead.
Employees will appreciate this flexibility with different obligations and responsibilities at home.
12. Decide the best mode of communication
One of the best communication rules for remote teams is to decide your team’s preferred communication style. In the virtual workplace, different situations may call for other methods of communication. For example, while some projects require phone calls and virtual meetings, others may simply require an email with detailed updates.
For example, if you would like to discuss a new product launch, you should probably set up a meeting to discuss each step and assign responsibilities to employees. However, if you only need to make a quick update on a company blog, it may be easier to send an email with directions.
The key to determining the best method of communication is to decide which communication style works best for your team. For example, consider whether your team is more productive and responsive to email or meetings.
13. Be responsive
One of the most essential communication rules for remote teams is to be responsive. For example, if a teammate sends you an email or instant message, you should aim to reply as soon as possible. If the answer takes time, you can respond and let your coworker know you are working towards a solution.
Communication means dialogue. A major part of communication is responsiveness from the other party. It would help if you respect your teammates’ time when you work in a remote environment. Responding to messages promptly allows you to improve collaboration among your team.
14. Take an interest in your team’s well-being
One of the first steps to improving communication among your team is to take care of employee well-being. Physical and mental wellness are essential in any workplace, but more so in a virtual environment.
Here are a few ways to prioritize your team’s mental and physical wellness:
- Organize virtual team walks
- Host meditation sessions
- Set up team fitness challenges
- Encourage short breaks throughout the day to reset and recharge
By encouraging employees to take care of themselves, you will see a significant difference in their attitudes and approaches to work. For example, look at an employee who takes 15 minutes each day for a short yoga class. You may notice that this employee has more relaxed and calm energy than an employee who has been stressed at work all week.
Happy and well-rested employees will result in more productivity and success for your company, and are more likely to communicate respectfully and clearly.
Check out this list of virtual wellness activities.
15. Build trust through team building activities
If you are looking for ways to improve communication in virtual teams, then you should consider virtual team building activities. Team building exercises and activities are a great way to build trust and camaraderie.
A few team building activities include:
- Virtual escape room
- Team trivia night
- Fundraisers for charity
- Virtual happy hour
The best part about team building activities is that these exercises are doable virtually. These activities and exercises will help your team improve communication and unity. Employees familiar with coworkers are less shy about reaching out to colleagues and more accountable for responding to messages.
Here is a list of virtual team building activities.
16. Do not be afraid to get personal
When working virtually, it can be easy to miss out on the personal element of work. After all, when the entire team works from home, there is no chance to run into teammates in the hallway and catch up.
Here are a few ways to get personal with your team:
- Ask teammates how they spent the weekend
- Share family pictures
- Chat about important milestones in each other’s lives
- Talk about the latest movies and television shows
As humans, we need connection and interaction. Getting personal with your team can be a great way to ensure you do not lose touch with teammates, even in a remote work environment.
Check out this list of get to know you activities.
17. Help your team feel supported
When working remotely, it can be easy for employees to lose touch with one another. Working in different locations eliminates the chances to chat quickly with teammates in the hallway or meet your coworkers for lunch.
As a result, teams must work together to help all members feel supported.
Support from your team can come in many forms, such as:
- Recapping a meeting your teammate missed
- Taking some work off your teammate’s plate
- Being available to chat when your teammate needs a listening ear
These are just a few ways to provide much-needed support to teammates while working in a virtual setting. By being a supportive teammate, you are opening up the floor for more effective communication and connection.
Virtual team communication tips are strategies and tactics to help you improve communication and collaboration among your team. While you may think it is challenging to manage a team located in different areas, it is possible through effective communication.
Exceptional communication is the first step in better managing your remote team. Taking advantage of communication tips will ensure that your team remains engaged and motivated. Clear and effective communication can lead your team to higher productivity and success.