SIUC Dept. of Communication Studies RSOs
by Alyssa Metelak, Communication Studies
The use of virtual teams to conduct business has skyrocketed in the past year. In many instances employers have switched to online thinking, so for young professionals joining the workforce, this post highlights the pros and cons to virtual networking in the communication field, and how to get better at it.
As of writing, I am a senior at Southern Illinois University. I have been a member of many group teams as a student in the fields of organizational communication and public relations. Recently, I have had to adopt virtual-learning and virtual collaboration on campaigns and group projects.
I want to share my evaluation of the pros and cons to virtual teamwork in the communication. I am going to summarize some key ideas from articles I reviewed that were written by communication subject matter experts.
The first article I would like to highlight is “Virtual Team Communication: What Is It, Top Challenges, & Best Practices,” which was written by Gaetano Dinardi for Nextiva. In the article, Dinardi notes many challenges to virtual teamwork. Some of these include absence of body language, the possibility of distractions, and loss of company culture.
CONS: No nonverbal communication, distractions, loss of company culture
The best way Dinardi explains to combat some of these issues is by focusing on the people in the team, rather than the technology keeping you connected. Being conscious that being away from other people can affect work morale, good communicators and leader take steps to prevent burnouts and loss of interest from happening.
There are positives to collaborating virtually. Sandra Lewis highlights some pros to virtual communication in her article titled, “7 Tips on Effective Communication for Virtual Teams.”
The first thing to note about communicating virtually are the new ways you can create videos and edit material to use for work. Lewis says that by embracing technology and focusing on the visual elements you want to create, you can be a successful team.
PROS: Digital expression, less micromanagement, increased individual value
Some other positive ideas Lewis notes were that virtual teamwork reduces micromanagement. Employees are not in a workplace building with specific hours of operation. Many jobs have more flexible schedules virtually, which can be seen as a bonus. Another positive is that people are forgiving with other’s time when apart.
The last article I will highlight is written by N. Sharon Hill and Kathryn M. Bartol. Their article, “Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams,” will help to illustrate a few ways to improve ineffective teamwork in virtual communication teams. The first way to improve communication virtually is by making sure every team member is on the same page. Coordinating that each person is using the same programs and understands the same directions is key.
HOW TO IMPROVE: Clarity, Check-ins
Another way Hill and Bartol illustrate how to improve virtual communication is by making sure everyone stays in sync. Staying in sync can be accomplished by checking in with each member and giving everyone time to speak. Althoug this is time consuming, it is important to make sure no one loses touch with the work environment while on the job.
Continue to find new ways to thrive in a virtual team and you will succeed!
About the author
Alyssa Metelak is a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale expecting graduation May 2021. She has previously been a member of the Communication Career Council and Public Relations Student Society of America while an undergraduate at SIU. Alyssa hopes to soon find her first role in a professional communications role.