The events of 2020 have forced most businesses to re-evaluate how they communicate within their teams. For essential businesses and other operations in the service industry where employees are still on-site and not always in front of computers, video conferences are not a realistic option. Public health agency guidance discourages in-person meetings, so what can you do to keep team members safely on the same page? Consider your options for various types of virtual team communication.
Types of Team Communication
- Daily pre-shift meetings. For businesses like restaurants and convenience stores, the daily pre-shift team meeting sets the stage for a successful shift. In order to deliver exceptional customer service, employees need to know what promotions are running, unique traffic expectations, and known challenges that might come up in the hours ahead. This type of virtual team communication can be accomplished using popular chat apps such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Chat. These tools disseminate information, give team members the opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback, and offer security features businesses need.
- Monthly or quarterly staff updates. For team communication about progress toward goals, new compliance regulations, sales projections, employee recognition, and other general updates, consider using a pre-recorded video message. This lets your employees see you and is more likely to get their attention than an email. Use your point-of-sale or learning management system to distribute the message.
- Mentoring and on-the-job-training. One-on-one interactions can make the transfer to virtual team communications through the use of chat apps. Mentors and trainers should initiate interaction by asking specific questions and providing feedback. Mentees and trainees should provide updates on their progress and ask for clarification as needed. Having a record of these virtual conversations through the app can aid with follow-up down the road.
- Onboarding and ongoing training. Training fosters teamwork and is an important form of team communication. Online learning programs can help all your employees get on the same page with critical training on both hard skills and soft skills. Follow-up is critical. Managers and training administrators should make full use of all the functions of their learning management system by tracking results and providing refresher training as needed.
Technical Challenges with Virtual Team Communication
As you implement virtual team communication tools, make sure all your employees have equal access to the required technology. You may also need to amend your cell phone use policies to accommodate the need for employees to use devices during work hours.