With the pandemic having now been raging for over a year, many of us have become thoroughly accustomed to keeping in touch with our co-workers remotely… or so we might have thought. In truth, working in virtual teams can throw up various communication challenges that might have affected you, too.
If you run a business, here are just a few measures you could take to counter this threat – and hopefully leave members of your team communicating harmoniously even in a socially-distanced fashion.
Emulate in-person meetings when they aren’t a practical option
According to statistics shared by LSE Business Review, while the proportion of the UK workforce working mainly from home has slowly increased in recent years, it remained only just above 5% in 2019, before the pandemic struck. Therefore, many of us clearly weren’t used to remote working in pre-pandemic times.
However, as a team generally becomes less effective the more virtual it is, it is in your interest to emulate the in-person experience as far as possible, such as by extensively utilizing videoconferencing.
Where possible, meet face-to-face
LSE Business Reviews also reports research findings that, on the whole, computer-mediated communication negatively impacts team effectiveness. Therefore, you should look for opportunities to meet other team members – and work with them – in person.
Indeed, the above-mentioned research found that, when different members of a team work in the same space and during the same time, they reap better fruits from their labors.
Provide technology-specific training
You might not have previously heard of “technostress”, a form of anguish directly related to using and adopting new technologies. Fast Company notes that Craig Brod first used the term “technostress” in his book titled Technostress back in 1984, when computers were becoming more widespread in the workplace.
However, in your own workplace, you can help to prevent technostress by adequately training staff on how to use the tech communication tools you place at their disposal.
You could also provide communication software that would be relatively easy to use from the start – such as Gamma’s hosted phone system product Horizon if you want to upgrade from traditional PBX telephony.
Be careful what work you give to what people
While there are various techno-stressors, how any given person actually responds to them will be influenced by their personality type. For example, while overloading a worker with various communication apps is one techno-stressor, workers proactive in personality are better at handling such overload.
However, people who are more agreeable could too easily succumb to compulsively using mobile apps, resulting in higher levels of technostress.
Avoid any unnecessary communication
Of course, one way to reduce the likelihood of communication challenges arising is limiting, as far as practically possible, the amount of communication that happens in the first place.
So, while a new chat app might look exciting and useful on paper (or should we say “on screen”?), if your team’s existing means of corporate communication still work fine, adding that chat app to the communication tools available to your workers could ultimately prove counterproductive.