Virtual collaboration online requires a bit more forethought and planning than other forms of team communication. The Ariel Group, having worked extensively with virtual teams and remote clients over their history, put together a short list of suggestions on how to communicate with virtual collaborators more effectively. Here are their suggestions:
- Use video whenever possible. Being on camera helps your virtual teammate be more present and involved and it reminds you that they are present, even if they are not talking.
- Extend the celebration. We have a client whose team is all in person but for one, and anytime they celebrate a birthday, they make sure their virtual member has a cupcake, too.
- Set expectations for participation. If you’re kicking off a meeting or a presentation, make sure to articulate how you would like the group to take part – let them know if you’re going to pause for questions or if they should wait until the end, or if it’s an open discussion. The virtual participants are less likely to get lost than if it’s a free-for-all.
- Be responsive. I have a colleague who answers most emails right away, even if it’s just with a “Thank you.” It builds trust between us and certainly makes me feel more connected to her.
- Make time to check in. We at The Ariel Group have a ritual at the top of every meeting. We make sure to hear a few words from everyone before we dig into business – it helps us all to get present.
Do you have any more suggestions on how to improve virtual collaboration?
Do you have some personal experience or anecdote you’d like to share?
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