Effectively communicating in virtual environments is an essential skill, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic halted in-person meetings at University of Phoenix and other workplaces, leaving virtual meetings as the most common way for teams to collaborate. Effective communication occurs when information is passed from one person to another and the recipient of the information correctly understands the information. According to Detra German of University of Phoenix, the final requirement of effective communication is for the receiver to use the information in an intended manner.
Virtual Meetings Are the New Normal
The spread of COVID-19 in early 2020 effectively cancelled in-person events, meetings, and, in many cases, daily work routines. Nearly a year later, many employees are still working remotely. People are relying heavily on communication technologies to share ideas and knowledge, speak with or see one another, and solve problems. Working from home can create more challenges and difficulties in employee communication than when coworkers are in the same physical location. The lack of in-person, face-to-face interaction can also make establishing positive relationships with supervisors difficult, according to German.
What Happens When Employees Cannot Effectively Communicate
German further explains that employees who are not able to effectively communicate in the virtual environment can feel more stress. These individuals are more likely to call out work or work less efficiently or accurately. This can lead to a higher turnover rate and reduced quality of work output.
Types of Virtual Communication Tools
University of Phoenix has made use of a variety of tools for virtual communication. These include Zoom and Microsoft Teams. When logged in, employees can chat with one another, ask questions, and get clarification in real time. Collaboration extends beyond verbal communication and message boards. These platforms also offer features such as screen sharing, instant messaging, file transfers, and breakout rooms.
Best Practices Implementation
German recommends that organizations establish solid guidelines and best practices for the communication platforms they implement. This is especially important for organizations with teams working across different time zones. Another important guideline is to prohibit sharing confidential content such as personally identifiable health or financial information. Guidelines must be explained orally and in writing to all employees in a timely, clear manner.
Virtual Communications Could Be the New Normal
The ongoing pandemic has bolstered the need for efficient, effective virtual communication. At University of Phoenix, German predicts that the growth of virtual teams will continue even when the pandemic ends or becomes less impactful. Companies that intend to keep these tools in place after the pandemic should carefully consider the available features and impact on their organization for the long term. This is especially true for businesses with teams with different time zones, schedules, cultures, and native languages. Using evidence-based practices, establishing clear guidelines, and choosing a tool designed for a geographically diverse set of employees will foster effective, clear, and concise virtual communications.
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