2021

Best Communication Tools for Virtual Interactions

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While the pandemic has wholly restructured how we do business and communicate on a daily basis today, plenty of companies and platforms have been scrambling to keep up with the demand for virtual collaborative communication tools. Since COVID-19 in March 2020, more advancements have been made concerning these tools than ever before, which for the most part, is a positive side effect of embracing this ‘new normal.’

Although Zoom and other similar video conferencing tools were being used sometimes haphazardly before the pandemic, these kinds of communication channels became paramount as an essential form of communication in 2020 – and are still critical today. In fact, it’s arguable that virtual learning and work environments are simply impossible without these kinds of tools, which is why in this blog, we’re going to look at a breakdown of the best collaborative communication tools available today.

First order of business: looking at the 3 C’s.

The C’s: What They Are and Why You Should Care

  1. Collaborative Tools Around Communication: Communication needs to be seamless and flawless for a company to thrive today. That means beyond the regular old-email inbox, which is still essential for sending reminders and filing strings of information, there needs to be a way for team members to communicate in real-time, much like they would as coworkers. Tools like Slack can make it easy to write to a person right away, in an instant-messaging style format. Plus, the Slack tool, or similar, allows information to be filed by channel and private message. Using this tool, all of that instant chatter that was clogging an email inbox can be sorted out of it, prioritizing what’s more pressing and important.
  2. Collaborative Tools Around Conferencing: These collaborative tools are centered around conferencing, allowing multiple parties to participate in one singular chat or phone call. These tools are used for team meetings, presentations, and anything else that would have required a physical conference room in the past (Zoom, WebEx, Discord, FaceTime, Skype). It can even be a phone call with multiple participants on the line.
  3. Collaborative Tools Around Coordination: Workflow needs to be assigned and coordinated throughout the day, and it needs to happen in tandem with conferencing and communication. Two great examples are the software Trello and Monday, which allows team members to assign roles and projects to other team members, with updates for individuals to signify where they are in the project. This kind of transparency minimizes the number of emails, calls, and chats that would need to be subsequently sent to ask someone “where they are with their project.”

 

At times, things need to be exchanged and shared that do not necessarily relate to any urgent project or deadline. That’s where jam boards come into the picture, like Microsoft Project. Trello, as well, can help people share more about their experiences and innovations than simply talking about work every day. It’s always important to treat individuals like real human beings and not just worker robots that you only communicate with using a keyboard.

The Trap of Virtual Convenience

Zoom and Skype make it easier than ever before to schedule a call time and hop on as a team. In fact, they make it too easy when compared to booking physical conference rooms that required coworkers to be present at a particular time. Be careful not to over-use these tools and schedule more calls than are actually necessary when running a business. It can be tiresome on the participants, and it can slow down your potential work output.

That’s why it’s important to be protective of your productivity and time working in a virtual learning environment today. If someone asks you to join a Zoom call for a team update meeting, you have the option of proposing the update be sent via email or added to Trello. If an individual wants to meet with you, personally, about an update on a project, an email can be sent regarding the work.

Always think to yourself: would I have booked a physical room to do this pre-COVID, or is this just another cluttered Zoom request since we live in the ‘new normal’ now?

Finally, for ease of sending documents, links, and finished products, check out Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. You can also use a server of your choice to share files with your team. Sync the chosen file service to your calendar and video conferencing software to free up even more time.

Conclusion

It is easy to become immersed in learning and developing for teams learning new technologies and new ways of working.  Virtual collaboration has the foundation of three work focus areas:

  1. Communication
  2. Conferencing
  3. Coordination


And, thinking about virtual convenience versus the virtual necessity to ensure that accomplishments are being driven most efficiently and effectively possible.

Learning the skills of working at a distance as a unified team is not always straightforward. Focusing on learning development in these three areas will boost productivity, efficiency, and teamwork to achieve personal and business goals.

For more information on learning development for virtual teams and leading virtual teams, please visit our website to learn more.