Although it’s often said that the most efficient and effective way of presenting ideas and sharing information in business is through face-to-face communication, what to do when that’s simply not possible? During a pandemic, working from home is not only a preference, but an absolute necessity, and being separated from our team members is inevitable. Fortunately, modern technologies and numerous online communication platforms are here to help us.
What can make our online communication as effective as possible?
Having armed ourselves with laptops, headsets and mobile phones, the next step is to consider how can we as individuals contribute to team dynamics from a distance.
1. Frequent communication
When face-to-face communication is not an option, something that is essential can be easily missed. To reduce the risk of relevant information being left out, it is very important to increase the frequency of communication and feedback, not only within the team, but also cross-functionally.
2. Clear and concise communication
In online communication, we are left with little room for correcting possible misunderstandings, which is why it is important to make sure that we express ourselves clearly and concisely, with terminology that is universally understood. Professional terms are useful, but not when you are working with someone to whom those terms are unknown, for example, when talking to a colleague from another company sector. When this communication takes place online, it is even more difficult to overcome these language barriers, if we do not consider them in advance.
3. Useful questions and answers
If something remains unclear, we should not hesitate to ask further questions. Additionally, we have to have the patience to carefully consider the question so we can give an informative and useful answer. These circumstances will further encourage us to show mutual understanding and tolerance and take advantage of our ability to empathize.
4. Tone of communication
Sarcasm and humor are often a good way to break the ice and create a more relaxed atmosphere. However, due to the lack of common and easily recognizable non-verbal signals, many things can be misinterpreted. Instead, rely on the kindness and a couple of informal questions before jumping into your work tasks.
5. Maintain closeness and positivity
Paying attention to the tone certainly does not mean that communication within the team should be completely cold and impersonal. Especially in times of crisis, it is important for employees to continue to feel mutual closeness and care. Check with your colleagues how they are, whether they need support, and share something positive with each other. Turn on the camera to make up for the lack of physical presence.
Now, more than ever, we should never lose sight of the fact that ‘’WE’’ is always stronger than ‘’I’’. Successful communication in a team is not necessarily ensured by physical closeness, but rather by empathic closeness and a sense of community between people. Demonstrate your willingness to listen to one another. To preserve team cohesiveness, rely on your shared goals and collaboration as a basic tool to overcome this challenging period. Like any period of uncertainty, this period will also bring a lot of opportunities to learn something new and develop ourselves professionally. And don’t forget that people and their interactions and collaboration are what make every business stand out and be successful.