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Communication Strategies for Virtual Teams

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  • 0:03 Communication for…
  • 0:49 Determining the Needs…
  • 2:59 Utilizing the Proper Tools
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Schofield
Communication is one of the factors that can make or break a virtual team. Having strategies to encourage and support the needed communication is vital for a virtual team's success. Use these tips to improve communication.

Communication for Virtual Teams

As virtual teams rise in popularity, companies must create strategies to encourage and facilitate communication among the members of the teams. This creates many opportunities and challenges for a business. As companies create communication strategies for virtual teams, they must consider the resources that are available, the needs of the team, and the results desired.

Some virtual teams rely heavily on communication and need to interact on a consistent basis. Those teams will have different needs than a team that has members who work primarily alone and need to collaborate on infrequent occasions. In either instance, it is important to have the right tools and options available for each team to operate at optimum levels.

Determining the Needs of the Team

When determining the needs of a virtual team, first consider the nature of the team's work. The type of work a team is responsible for is a factor in the type of communication they will be doing. A team that works independently will need to communicate less frequently than teams that have multiple members working on projects together. For instance, a writer or editor working on a single article will have less interaction with co-workers than a group of writers who are working on a project together.

When looking at needs, you'll also want to think about the number of members in the team. A team of two or three people is easier to coordinate with and can communicate in a more casual manner. However, a team that is large requires more scheduling, tools with a greater capacity, and greater coordination to pull everyone together. When planning the size of a group, the leader needs to consider what accommodations need to be made for the members and then work to provide the most productive experience possible. Having 50 people on a call who are talking at the same time or cannot get connected is not efficient. Likewise, making decisions without having the right people involved wastes time and limits communication within the team. Therefore, creating the best experience for the number of members is a strategy that is needed for a virtual team.

What is the need for frequency of contact? Virtual teams need more frequent contact to ensure the members feel involved and have a connection to each other. The nature of the team will determine the frequency of the contact. Many sales teams may talk to each other daily to share information and have a pep-talk before they spend the day speaking with clients. On the other hand, IT teams or other independent-type groups may speak to each other once a week to compare projects and update each other on concerns.

Lastly, another need that should be assessed is the need for audio or video conferencing. Some teams need the functionality of seeing each other and having video capabilities. Other teams simply need to speak to each other without the video function. The proper strategies will include the need for audio or visual contact.

Utilizing the Proper Tools

It is important to utilize the proper tools when helping a virtual team communicate:

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