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Communication Tools for Virtual Teams

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Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

Virtual teams are growing in popularity, requiring widespread implementation of communication tools to help the teams to be more effective. This lesson offers suggestions for using communication tools for virtual teams.

Communication Methods for Virtual Teams

A virtual team is group of staff members who work in remote locations and are not in the same physical office. They may work in corporate offices in other cities or work from home. The key factor to a successful virtual team is the ability to interact in an effective way despite the fact that co-workers don't see each other on a regular basis.

One of the greatest challenges of a virtual team is communication. Having people located in various places can make contact more challenging. As a result, having a plan to facilitate communication is an important factor in ensuring a virtual team works well together.

Say that you manage a virtual team of sales representatives who sell products to independent retail stores around the nation. In this case, it's likely your team members will reside and work within the regions that they sell products. Your goal as the manager is to build cohesiveness and communication between these remote employees. There are a few fundamental activities you can implement to help the team work smoothly:

The first is team calendaring. Since each of your reps' schedules are different and are in various time zones, you set up an online calendar that displays all team employees' schedules in the time zone of the company's home base. This allows you and other team members to know where the reps are and when they are available to communicate. It can also build a sense of respect among the team, as employees take each other's time and schedules into consideration.

Another fundamental activity includes scheduled calls. As a team manager, you determine it will help with efficiency if random calls are kept to a minimum. While emergencies or immediate needs for information might arise, most calls can be scheduled and held at a time that is convenient for both parties. By referring to the team calendar, calls can be scheduled and held at a time that works for everyone involved.

Lastly, regular team meetings should be scheduled. Building a strong, robust team is one of the goals of a manager. Organizing regular team meetings can help workers share information, present problems, offer solutions, and build camaraderie. Even though the team is distant geographically, you want it to be united in departmental goals. You also want co-workers to have consistent interaction with each other and come together as a group in a trusting, supportive manner, and regular team meetings help facilitate this.

Tools for Virtual Team Communication

Now that you know different methods by which virtual employees can interact, it's time to determine what specific communication tools your team needs. Here are some of the tools that virtual teams commonly use to collaborate and stay connected:

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