How to Communicate Effectively in a Virtual Workplace

How to Communicate Effectively in a Virtual Workplace

Needless to say, effective communication is important in any workplace. Without it, teams struggle in dealing with everyday challenges. The work as a whole suffers as well. Here’s how to communicate effectively in a virtual workplace. Know what makes a great team, understand how communication affects it, and lead your own team to success!

1. Focus on Communication Behavior

Every day presents new opportunities for work teams to collaborate and come up with ideas. Daily tasks exist to achieve the ultimate goals. But to accomplish the desired success, everyone has to be in step.

The thing is…

Success requires every member of the team to see the same vision and act on the same mission. Without unity, every member could go on his own way without minding the effects of his actions. Without unity, every member could go on different directions—confused and missing the real destination.

As a result, team members perform poorly, miss deadlines, and worse quit their jobs.

This is where the need for effective communication stands out. Each team member needs to understand the general expectations as well as the immediate concerns. For this, business owners have the task of aligning their teams to their companies’ objectives.

“The best way to build a great team is not to select individuals for their smarts or accomplishments, but to learn how they communicate and to shape and guide the team so that it follows successful communication patterns.” -Alex Pentland

A study by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory reveals what great teams are made of. It’s surprising to note that a person’s reasoning and talents do not contribute much to a team’s success.

Here’s why…

Regardless of status, gender, accomplishments, and any other so-called “biases”, a person’s way of communicating matters more. HOW a person communicates his ideas are more influential compared to WHAT his ideas are.

2. Identify Patterns to Success

The study traced down communication behaviors using electronic badges. The participants came from different workplaces in different industries.

How to Communicate Effectively in a Virtual WorkplaceHere’s what they found…

Performance is affected by energy, engagement, and exploration. A team member’s energy towards a particular endeavor is powerful. He can distribute it to his fellow members as well as to those of another team.

A common energy is what brings all members together. This makes them able to carry on goals. It motivates them.

The study also presented how patterns of communication lead a team to success. From it, the following are the common characteristics of successful teams. You can apply them to your team, too:

a) Allow Members to Contribute Ideas

As the saying goes, each person has something that other people don’t have and that other people need. Every member has his own unique line of reasoning and talents.

When you give them the chance to contribute and help them feel welcome, you help build their confidence—and their gusto to get involved. With that spark of confidence, you give them enough energy to engage in the tasks and with his fellow members.

b) Encourage Face-to-Face Communication

Regular exchange of thoughts also increases energy. It can be a simple “yes” or a slight nod—any form of response. The most valuable form being is that of a face-to-face communication.

Seeing someone respond to an idea makes it easy for everyone to understand and make their own judgments. You can meet in person or do a video conference to see and better comprehend your team members.

It’s also a way of being transparent, and avoids misunderstanding.

c) Spark Connections within the Team

People are naturally social. They need others to converse with and express themselves to. This does not exclude the members of a virtual team.

A virtual workplace does not necessarily mean that its members are not real. You can talk with them, laugh with them, or cry with them. They are very capable of understanding.

Seeing them as “virtual” beings could only result into conflicting interests. While you think them as merely virtual people, they see you as a real person that they can help towards success.

To achieve the right results, therefore, requires effort and a shared understanding that you are both humans. You can encourage healthy conversations among members, and allow them to grow together. That way, you leave room for everyone to get involved and explore diversity.

d) Allow Side Conversations

Work, work, and have some fun. Dealing with everyday tasks can be a bore. Again, exchange of thoughts or actions elicits energy.

What is your work culture like? Business owners can become too driven towards success. They typically head on full throttle, and focus intently on achieving their goals.


They also need a time to breakaway and refresh their minds. Everyone does. You don’t want to consume all your energy in one go.

There are lots of aspects in business that you need to pay attention to. To sustain your energy as well as those of your virtual team, you can engage yourselves in a little chat off work from time to time. It helps members relax and give way for new ideas.

e) Take Breaks Outside of Work

What is your motive for starting a business? What are your intentions?

It’s easy to fall for work when it gives you lots of benefits. Sometimes, however, you can find it difficult to take your hands off of it even for awhile.

But for you to perform better, you also need to explore your surroundings. See things outside of work. It helps you see things from a perspective.

Periodical breaks won’t do harm for members of the team, too. They can explore outside and bring new pieces of ideas, of lessons learned. When they do so, they become more present in the two realms that they exist—virtual and physical.

With new ideas come creativity and productivity—factors that lead to good performance.

3. Embody Leadership

To be effective is to produce influence—to lead.

Each member of the team has his own way of communicating. Each has his own behavior that team leaders can pick up and fashion towards a goal. Many think of team building as an art, when it can also be a science that anyone can study to improve.


When you think about virtual teams, each member has his own line of reasoning and gifts. Each has his own aspirations and motives. But, what’s fascinating is their ability to collaborate and cooperate in a work system to achieve one purpose—the company’s.

“There is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it. And if you change one person’s understanding of it—of what they’re capable of, of how much people care about them, of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you’ve changed the whole thing.” -Drew Dudley

According to Drew, sometimes people think of leadership as something greater than the daily events. People think of leadership as great act that only great minds can do.

How to Communicate Effectively in a Virtual WorkplaceEver heard of the lollipop moment?

In a TED talk, he shared the story of a girl he inspired years ago. She was nervous in her first day of college and already decided to leave, when she saw Drew handing out lollipops.

He gave one to the guy beside her, and told him to give it to her. She felt sorry for the guy, and so accepted the lollipop. All of a sudden, Drew looked at her and exclaimed, “Look at that! Look at that! First day away from home, and already she’s taking candy from a stranger?”

Everyone who heard him laughed out loud. And, that made her determined to stay.

The point is…

You don’t have to be a somebody to become a leader. Leadership can simply mean motivating people towards change. It is leading them with thoughts, actions, words that inspire success.

Each team member has the potential to influence others. When you help them produce the change they can in your business, it’ll be easy for you to unite them to achieving your company’s one true vision and mission.

Because It Pays to Be Effective…

Nowadays, there are lots of tools available for working with virtual teams. You can use a project management software like Redbooth to reach out and collaborate. It comes with valuable features that enable you to make a call, host a video conference, upload files, and organize tasks.

What’s important is you find ways to communicate, and sustain that connection. In the process, allow your team to understand the significance of your mission. They just might need a little push to get involved.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” -Simon Sinek

Knowing how to communicate effectively in a virtual workplace is already a good start towards realizing your company’s goals.

When you think about the different patterns of communication behavior, you’ll find how being human plays a critical role in bringing out good performance. Be open to ideas, be willing to communicate, and take action to bring out the best in your virtual team.

Tell us what you think about the How to Communicate Effectively in a Virtual Workplace. Feel free to add comments and suggestions. We love hearing from you!

Jaime Jay

About Jaime Jay

Meet Jaime Jay – a man who wears many hats, and wears them all admirably. He's a master connector, an entrepreneur extraordinaire, and a published author who knows how to get things done.

Before he found his way to the business world, Jaime served his country as a brave paratrooper in the U.S. Army. But that's just the beginning of his many accomplishments.

He's the founder of the renowned Bottleneck Distant Assistant Services firm, and his book "Quit Repeating Yourself" has become a must-read for entrepreneurs everywhere.

When he's not busy building his empire, you can find him on his beloved Harley Davidson, cruising through the countryside and taking in the invigorating effects of Uitwaaien – a Dutch practice that involves facing the wind to boost health and relieve stress.

He enjoys spending his free time outside building stuff with his wife, Nikita the dog and their two kittens (for now at least) Tommy and Tater.

He is ‘over-the-moon’ happily married to his wonderful wife Sara, his amazing daughter, Jessica, who is serving our country as a United States Army soldier. Jaime and Sara are the proud grand parents of two beautiful little girls.


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