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Working Remotely? Follow These 9 Communication Tactics Vital to Enable a Virtual Workplace Culture

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Effective Communication with Virtual Teams (23-slide PowerPoint presentation). The number of people working remotely has been increasing progressively across the globe. An employee benefits report narrates that around 60% companies in the US offer telecommuting opportunities. According to Upwork, freelancers and contractors have increased by 81% from 2014 to 2017. [read more]

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Virtual Work has become a norm nowadays.  To enable Virtual Work, organizations should strive to develop an Organizational Culture of writing things down.  Documenting everything—from meeting notes to quarterly objectives—facilitates in developing stronger, informed, and more credible teams.

Organizations need to pay attention to and make good use of these 9 communication tactics to establish effective communication mechanisms among their remote teams:

  1. Daily Documentation
  2. Text-based Communication
  3. Low-context Communication
  4. Value-guided Communication
  5. Asynchronous Communication
  6. Good Habits
  7. Meetings
  8. Informal Communication
  9. Foster Relationships

Virtual communication tactics are essential for inspiring collaboration required for developing a more connected team.

Now, let’s talk about some of these tactics in Corporate Communications in further detail.

Daily Documentation

To have more collaborative work place and to have fruitful online meetings, virtual organizations need to follow these guidelines:

  • Share formal agenda and discussion items well in advance of the actual meetings.
  • Diligently document key ideas, points, and decisions for geographically dispersed team members to know their responsibilities, action items, and rationale for decisions.
  • Virtual teams should be encouraged and rewarded by the leadership on their thorough documentation, just as achievement of sales targets are rewarded.  This is particularly necessary since people tend to leave documentation when they have other urgent tasks at hand.
  • Encourage teams to document a solution as soon as it is discovered, since our ability to remember and recall is limited. Prompt documentation of solutions also ensures readiness of answers to other team members’ queries in future.

Text-based Communication

For most people from an in-office environment, text-based messages are pretty awkward and cumbersome.  They are used to one-to-one or in-person meetings and communication, instead of text-based communication.  Making these people adopt text-based communique and use it to their advantage demands quite an effort and behavioral change.  However, mastering the art of textual communication affords a number of benefits for teams, projects, and organizations alike, including:

  • Text-based communication is vital for Virtual Work where team members are dispersed in different geographies. It is a medium which is inclusive, respectful, and emphasizes a documentation Culture.
  • Documentation is a real competitive edge. A Culture without mandatory documentation gives rise to inefficiencies, knowledge leaks and repetition.
  • Text-based communication seems a liability but helps avoid unnecessary meetings with the sole purpose of “filling someone in.”
  • Cultivating a habit of communicating answers to problems through text makes documentation simpler, assists in asynchronous work, and provides information to all at the same time.
  • It frees up individual’s time for contemplation and idea generation.

When communication stakes are high in the game, there are some key considerations to follow in text-based communication:

  • Consider evaluating your conservation through an external party’s perspective before sharing.
  • Be mindful of the differences in various Cultures and communication styles.
  • There can be lags in obtaining input from the other team members due to difference in geographies and time zones.
  • Keep in mind that there can be minimum to none non-verbal communication.
  • There is emotional lag in communication.
  • Analyzing the mindset and frame of mind of the audience is a bit tough.
  • Management should assist team members in communicating effectively and getting the best out of Virtual Work.

Interested in learning more about the other communication tactics and guidelines for virtual work setting?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Virtual Work: Communication Tactics here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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