When you are working with teams from around the world, it is inevitable that you will come across collaboration issues as you plan discussions. It is important to ensure that your group is communicating effectively at every virtual meeting despite issues with technology and time zone differences.
With telecommuting becoming even more popular, it is critical that you discuss potential struggles and the numerous benefits of hiring remote workers.
One of the issues up for discussion is how to ensure you have effective group communication. How many times have you seen someone, apart from the boss, too afraid to contribute during a virtual meeting? What about those times when technical difficulties made it impossible to launch an online session?
Here’s how to solve these problems and achieve effective collaboration among virtual teams members.
- Check Your Technology: No tips below matter as long as your internet connection is not working well enough to offer a clear video or audio experience. It is imperative that your multiple remote employees can talk to each other without cutting out or breaking up. You need to ensure that all team members have the appropriate hardware and software for clear, secure communication. Consider a virtual phone system if you don’t already have one. You also need to think about complementing technology that you will use for a meeting. For instance, you may have specific software in mind for setting up weekly agendas and ensuring everyone is on the same page. The technology you use should be familiar to everyone.
- Establish Rules: One of the things that you should keep in mind is that some of your remote employees may not work the typical 9-to-5 schedule. This means there is no chance of you stopping by their desks and asking them to step into a meeting if their input is required at the last minute. Instead, you will need to have a few rules put in place concerning the meeting to ensure that everyone in attendance is informed and well prepared. First, have a particular day that should be the same every week so that your remote employees can plan to be available. Next, establish the time for the meeting, but take into consideration everyone’s time zone as you plan. While 4 pm may be perfect for you, it may be the middle of the night for some of your remote workers. Even when remote workers agree to meet very late or early in the day, they might not be at their best, and their contribution will not foster a particularly productive conversation. Now, make sure that every participant to the meeting receives the agenda at least 24 hours prior.
- Cultural Differences: It is, sometimes, difficult communicating between different cultures due to differences in customs and language. When each of your employees has a solid grasp of English, communication will not require extra thought. However, the combined stress and ambiguity of doing things may confuse your team members.
One of the things you can do to prevent this from occurring is by having a moderator in your meetings to ensure that all participants are on the same page. The moderator needs to build virtual trust and ensure that every participant gets time to speak and understand the topics that are discussed.
In addition, make sure that each of your remote employees is aware of the differences in cultural practices. For instance, in some cultures, interrupting another person while he or she is speaking is allowable, but in other cultures, doing the same thing is considered as extremely rude.
Use these strategies to improve your team’s collaboration. Doing this will help you achieve a more effective communication which will result in greater productivity.