In part 2 of our series, we would like to introduce you to the specific characteristics of communication in virtual teams.

VNC has been working with and in virtual teams for years. In addition to great opportunities, there are also “virtual traps” in this collaboration model.
To make the collaboration in virtual teams even more efficient, we have put together some tips for you:

Team Work:

Please keep in mind that in a virtual organization the short conversations at the coffee machine (water cooler talk), in the hallway or during lunch are missing. So, you’ll have to take advantage of all opportunities to stay in touch with your team members, keep your colleagues informed about your work, and get feedback. Chat or video chat, telephone and the internal company cast are perfect tools to build up a good, personal foundation for virtual teams over long distances.

Compose your messages to colleagues always in a positive and goal-oriented manner and describe your requirements very precisely. An introduction with some personal words will certainly work wonders, rather than sending the request as a “one-sentence prompt”.

Inquiries: Please note that non-verbal communication is missing in e-mails or chat messages. In the case of uncertainty, or if something has been phrased unclearly, please ask for more information rather than drawing your own conclusions.
Conflicts are often caused by misinterpretations of a statement. This can be easily prevented if the situation is briefly discussed again.

Responsiveness:

In order to optimize cooperation within the individual teams, we suggest the following response times as an orientation:

Email: Answer within 24 hours
Within 24 hours at least a short feedback on the receipt and the expected processing time should be sent. In most cases, a quick reply within an hour should be feasible.

Chat: Answer within 30 minutes
If a team member is visible as “available” in the company chat, a response to requests of other team members should follow within 30 min.

Communication Tools / Media Plan:

Please discuss with the team whether the establishment of a media plan would make sense for your team. Especially when there are problems in communication, a media plan can help. Here you can read more about how you can set up and use a media plan.

Criticism:

Please remember to deliver constructive criticism best in a 1: 1 conversation. If other team members are on CC, the respective employee might be mortified – and for the rest of the colleagues on CC this situation could create discomfort. Criticism of employees should not be expressed spontaneously in a meeting or group chat. Dealing with criticism is a challenge even in “classical” teams, so it has to be treated even more sensitively in a virtual team. Keywords: lack of non-verbal communication

Feedback and prioritization:

Especially in virtual teams, team meetings or one-to-one discussions should be held on a regular basis in order to prioritize the upcoming tasks and provide feedback on already completed tasks. Please keep in mind that all employees must be kept on the same level of information, especially about the current status of a project. This certainly represents a greater challenge in a virtual team than in a “classic” team.

Team Building:

Probably the greatest challenge for the success of a virtual team is to build up lasting trust within the team and to promote intercultural competence. Even the knowledge of cultural differences can significantly improve cooperation in an international team. In the ideal case, always start important projects with a face-to-face meeting! If this is not possible, you can easily use VNCtalk, our solution for realtime chat, audio and video communication. We’re looking forward to give you a personal webinar to show you all the great features that make virtual meetings easy like never before.

Do you have ideas, wishes or suggestions? Contact us or arrange a consultation meeting with the innovative VNC Collaboration Tools: VNCportal – the core of the internal communication of VNC, VNCtalk for video conferences and chat, VNCsafe – file sync and share solution, VNCmail and VNCproject – our innovative project management tool!

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