Staying Connected In Far Away Virtual Offices

The Wall Street Journal’s Sara Max penned a thoughtful article on how virtual workers can collaborate and stay connected. She featured CUNA Mutual Group as an example. As the story goes, no one actually meets in person—even at their annual meeting. The company relies on virtual office technologies like WebEx to stay connected.

“As more employees work remotely, companies must devise ways for isolated workers to feel like part of a group. Teleworkers are still in the minority, representing about 2% of the U.S. workforce according to the Telework Research Network, a consulting and research firm specializing in telework and workplace flexibility, but experts believe virtual teaming will become more common,” Max writes.

“Moving workers out of cubicles can represent meaningful cost savings for companies, but management needs to keep these isolated employees working well together, collaborating and communicating effectively. After years of a culture where face time is the norm, that is no easy feat.”

With that in mind, I started scouting around for tips on how virtual workers can succeed in communicating and collaborating even from virtual offices—and even when they never actually meet each other in living color. I found a good blog post from Affinity, and I’ll offer the summary here.

“The biggest disadvantage of not communicating face-to-face is that you lose out on the non-verbal cues in a conversation,” Unmana Data writes. “The same statement, without the context of tone or body language can be interpreted as an earnest suggestion or sarcasm, an honest apology or a defensive excuse.”

Here are some tips:

    1. Pay attention to language.


    1. Initiate communication.


    1. Communicate regularly and frequently.


    1. Prevent and resolve misunderstandings.


    1. Use technology effectively.


    1. Connect outside of work.

All good tips. He bottom line: virtual offices can be a cost and time saver. And working virtually doesn’t have to hamper collaboration or communication if you make minor adjustments and tap into virtual office technologies that help you take virtual communication to the next level.


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