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Virtual Communication – Ways to Keep the Virtual Door Open

February 21, 2021

By Linda Olejniczak, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

In a recent ASE Member discussion, members talked about how they miss the unplanned interactions in the office. These often become the starting point for solving problems and getting work done.  Studies have shown that the amount of time spent planning projects and communicating effectively for a virtual team is at least double what it is for an in‐person team.  How can your virtual team mimic that informal talk in the lunchroom or catching someone in the hallway?

Check-in: Regular check-ins are helpful and valuable to keep your team engaged and focused.

Consistent Communication: Even if brief, consistency is the key, and your team will appreciate being informed about changes and new information.

Be Crystal Clear About Deadlines and Expectations:  Even if it seems self‐evident, effective communication should contain the following: what, why, how, who, when, and where.

Small Talk: Encourage light conversation at the beginning of the meeting. This helps people feel connected and offers some insight into what they may be handling in their remote settings. Start each meeting with positives or milestones. 

Respectfully Respond:  Both in timing and tone. You are working, teaching, caregiving.  We get it.  But respond in a timely manner to your colleagues.  If you disagree with something pick up the phone.  Emails, chats, and texts do not translate well.

Voice to Voice: Avoid always texting and emailing as your main form of communication – a phone call and hearing a voice (and often seeing a face with video calls) can help people feel more connected and promote engagement.

Listen: Listen to what they have to say about the changes and how they are coping. Promote open communication so that they can easily reach you with questions and concerns.

Customize Your Communication: No one style is better than the other. Some people like

to be walked through steps to learn something and some people would rather do it on their own.

Ask your team members how they prefer to communicate.

Communicate Thanks: Take a moment to communicate your heartfelt thanks for the work of your team. A simple thank you can do wonders for your team or a colleague who assisted you with a project.

Remote work requires communications and conflict resolution to be much more structured and proactive.  More time needs to be dedicated to clearly communicate expectations around roles, responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines.  The goal is to be proactive in keeping them engaged and ensuring that the engagement is valuable to all.

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