Without communication, a relationship with a virtual assistant would be nonexistent. Relationships with clients in other parts of the world would be similarly defunct, and employees in the same office might not even be on the same page. Communication is the key to success for any company with an online component — most businesses, these days. Therefore, streamline the communication process within the company to ensure the most efficient processes and guarantee that each employee clearly knows their manager's’ expectations.
In order for a virtual team to work effectively and efficiently, the team members must be clear, concise, and communicative. One way in which to accomplish all of these goals at the same time is to select just one platform across which the team will communicate. This can be via email or a messaging application like Slack or Asana. Regardless, make sure that the entire team knows to direct their questions and other forms of communication directly to that platform. In this way inboxes won’t pile up with meaningless questions of “where can I find this?” or “can you check with X about Y?”
Next, select a time where the entire team can meet together, either face-to-face or in a virtual face-to-face via Skype or Facetime. When people can associate faces to the names of the people they are communicating with, they tend to be more careful and considerate in the questions and responses. Another purpose of this meeting will be to make sure that the entire team is on the same page regarding the goals and missions of the organization. In this way, with each new project that is assigned, employees can work on those tasks in such a way and with such an outcome that the final result always reflects the mission of their employer.
Building that team atmosphere of communication and collaboration also helps to clarify both tasks and processes. If one team member has a certain set of skills, he or she can share those talents with another team member so that the work is done more skillfully and efficiently. Furthermore, employees will know who they can turn to with questions or concerns regarding specific issues. At the same time, be sure to clarify who is the lead on which projects, and their responsibilities associated with those tasks. This allows team leaders and managers to make more accurate judgments regarding employee engagement and productivity. If an employee has a certain set of tasks to accomplish or goals to work towards in an understood period of time, they are more likely to be accountable and complete their work in a timely manner.
Furthermore, do not forget to have one to one contact with each of the team members on staff. Building in those weekly or bi-weekly meetings, even if they occur over Skype or another video interface, allows administrators to interact with their employees in a way that builds trust and fosters more open communication. Use this time to conduct performance reviews and deliver feedback on recent projects, as such criticism can often read as unnecessarily harsh over email, even from the most well-intentioned sender. This is also a great time to ask if the employee has any suggestions to improve the online communication process, as they are the ones making the most use of the tool.
After initiating or even strengthening the communication strategies amongst virtual teams, there will be measurable improvement to the team’s success rates. Not only will trust have been built, but individual performance will improve as a result of managing results as opposed to activity. Additionally, with regular but concise communication, the work atmosphere that would automatically be present in a physical office space can still be cultivated remotely. By establishing rules of responsiveness and standards of communication, the success of any virtual enterprise is virtually guaranteed.