Thanks to continued technological advances, businesses are now able to far more easily connect from all corners of the globe. So much so, that remote working is predicted to significantly increase over the coming years.
Working virtually has many benefits, however, such situations do also bring some challenges to overcome. One of the more challenging aspects includes maintaining effective and cohesive communication across remote teams.
It is possible to create virtual environments which aid effective communication, but technology alone will not achieve this. One thing that technology can never truly and fully replace is real people and real situations. Therefore, the people within the teams have as much responsibility for maintaining successful communications as the system they are working within.
Investing in smart and seamless technology is vital to providing a platform for teams to easily connect. Which technology you choose will depend largely on business needs, but usually, this will involve some or all of the following:
- An accessible online filing system where documents can be viewed and edited by multiple users without causing duplicate versions
- Stable virtual communication platforms
- Project tool to provide insight into individual and collective tasks that may crossover
Furthermore, one of the more obvious essential elements to invest in is stable, always on connectivity. This will ensure remote teams are never affected by poor bandwidth and all communication functions can be fully supported with fast and reliable internet connections.
Agreed Behaviours and Processes
In order for the technology platforms to aid effective working and communication, it is important to work within an agreed framework across all remote teams.
This is something that can be useful to develop together so that each way of working can be considered to establish a way which is achievable for all involved.
Any system will need to involve both the processes – the way in which information gets from a to b – and the behaviours – the approach to everyday working.
An agreed process might include a foolproof, simplistic and structured filing system so that anyone can find what they are looking for.
Agreed behaviours might be that all communications are solutions focused rather than problem focused, thereby cutting down on the potential for too many emails. Another might be to always assume there is a positive intention behind every communication – this is particularly important when you consider how easy it can be to misread the written word.
Additionally, it can be useful to have some guidelines of which mode of communication to use in which situation as when there are several methods it can be easy to overuse one – namely email – or use all ineffectively.
Consistent Virtual Meetings
Many virtual offices fail to set frequent catch ups across teams. These are invaluable to remote workers and should not be overlooked or considered unnecessary.
As you do not have the luxury of face to face meetings, virtual ones are the next best thing and can not only bring you together but also allow each of you to literally have a conversation and effective dialog.
The easiest way to ensure such meetings get prioritised is to plan them in advance and have them in the calendar as a diary date that is set in stone.
In an ideal world, virtual teams benefit most from both weekly team meetings and weekly one to one catch ups with their direct line manager. After all, stress is a huge problem in the working world, and this can be more so when you don’t have a support system in place.
Therefore, adding in these simple supportive and structured aspects can improve both communication and equally address stress-related issues from escalating.
Moreover, be sure to keep meetings focused by setting objectives and purpose ahead of time. If all meeting attendees agree with these, they can then all take shared responsibility for keeping the meeting on track, always returning to the achieving the objective and purpose of the meeting.
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