7 Virtual Communication Skills To Navigate Today’s Workplace
Good communication with coworkers and managers is more important than ever, but sometimes, the virtual landscape requires a different kind of social attunement. Read on to learn how to improve your virtual communication skills in the workplace – and how Hive can help.
1. How to define channels
One of the most essential virtual workplace communication skills is defining and labeling various channels. Whereas in person, you might be walking to your coworkers’ desk to ask them a question, things are a lot more complicated when everyone is virtual. You’re not only juggling all the different programs your organization uses to function; you’re also trying to have conversations through chat, email, call center software, Zoom, notes, and much more.
Your team can thrive in the virtual world by establishing team norms around various communication means and having rules around what to talk about where. You can do check-ins on Slack, stand-ups on Zoom, and recaps via email – or whatever works best for your group. And while it might seem like a hassle to toggle between multiple programs all day, Hive offers integrations like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, and much more, so you can focus more on talking than on finding the right software to do so.
2. How to keep culture alive
Another way to hone your virtual communication skills is to ensure that you’re keeping your company’s culture alive. In a poll by Clutch.co, 63% of respondents report spending far less time socializing with their team after going remote at the pandemic’s beginning. This lack of socialization can cause one to feel isolated from their team, leading to a decrease in motivation or productivity.
A LifeSize survey reports that 98% of employees believe video conferencing is the best way to build relationships in a virtual environment, even if you’re not holding virtual events. If your team commits to keeping their cameras on during video calls, it could very well make your energy more synergistic.
3. How to constantly upskill
Virtual workplace communication skills are incredibly dependent upon available technology, and every day as the remote work world progresses, new features are coming out to enhance the user experience. To make sure that you’re collaborating in the most effective way possible, ensure that you’re up-to-date with the latest tools, ideally ones that can tap into your pre-existing skills and make them more efficient.
While upskilling might bring to mind time-consuming workshops or complicated new programs, it doesn’t have to be that way. Hive is constantly adding new elements to their program based upon user feedback, so you and your team can upskill easily over time rather than cramming for a virtual communication literacy test.
4. How to “overcommunicate”
To perfect your communication abilities, you’ve got to remember how different virtual interactions are from in-person interactions. Often, people read messages or emails through the lens of the mood they’re in rather than inferring from another’s interactions, vocalizations, and body language. By “overcommunicating” with your colleagues, going through details more rigorously, or explaining your feelings to them, you can become more actively involved in evolving your virtual workplace communications skills in an empathetic and honest way.
You don’t have to turn every email into a therapy session or double-check someone’s mental status after every Slack message to be conscious about over-communicating, as sometimes, it’s more practical than it is emotional. Emailing or sharing meeting notes after a meeting (even if all team members were present) is a way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
5. How to measure productivity
Virtual communications skills may vary among teams on the workplace – no two teams are alike, and everyone’s needs are different. But no matter what, you have to define productivity to grow in the right direction. It might be tempting to measure productivity by someone’s online availability, as managers are so used to judging an employee’s performance by their work attendance. But one’s availability and communicativeness can be separated from their output.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to measure productivity outside of time tracking or online availability, Hive can help you whittle a timeline down to only the necessities and figure out where the gaps are. Critical paths, which show the shortest path to a project’s completion, are one way to examine if the basic functions of an action item are getting accomplished. From there, you can see who’s directly tied to those action items, how quickly they’re getting completed, and how to improve the workflow.
6. How to troubleshoot in advance
Finding necessary files and forms is a cornerstone of the virtual experience, and frequently, looking for a missing piece of data can turn into a headache that hinders your entire team’s workflow. Having knowledge spaces is a vital feature in anyone’s digital toolbelt, and every team should have at least a few folders or resources where important data can be found and reused.
While Google Drives and Dropboxes are important knowledge spaces, you can also use Hive to help make assembling action cards streamlined and simple. With intake forms and templates for everything from marketing plans to content calendars, you can make your action items user-friendly and uniform, preventing communication hiccups in advance.
7. How to increase receptivity
While you might think that your team is more accessible than ever because of digital availability, sometimes, communication might lag due to the isolationist nature of remote work. You could get caught up in a project or distracted by a situation at home and seem less receptive to your coworkers’ ideas, input, the signals they’re sending, or the questions they’re asking.
Enabling notifications can only increase your receptivity so much, as you may not be near your computer, or you could be focused on another task. Instead of equating immediacy with approachability, try reframing your idea of receptivity by communicating thoughtfully and intentionally with proof or comments on relevant action cards. That way, you can focus on specific feedback in exact instances instead of letting constructive criticisms wash over you.
8. How to make your own social spaces
Having virtual social spaces is also a meaningful way to ensure that your communication skills are the best they can be. According to the Clutch.co survey, 35% of companies say they haven’t held a single virtual team culture event during the pandemic. And events that have been held, like virtual happy hours or team walks, might not be as popular as they used to be now that in-person socializing is becoming more frequent.
The good news is that even if you’re not hosting or attending virtual events, keeping company culture alive is more about fostering connections than it is about team activities. You can create social spaces anywhere, like a chat channel, an email chain, or an ongoing “water cooler” Zoom space. You might even find that workspaces can become more easygoing with fun additions like custom emojis made exactly for inside jokes with your team.