Three Most Common Causes of Miscommunication in the Virtual Workplace

by Marie Rodriguez

Workplace communication has transformed in recent years. Companies can access many communication tools, such as smartphones, digital messaging platforms, satellite push-to-talk (PTT) solutions, and social network sites. While these tools made remote work possible during the pandemic, they also paved the way for virtual workplace communication issues. This article will discuss the most common cause of miscommunication in managing a remote team and how to address it.


Adding emojis

Emojis are essential in conveying meaning and tone of voice in online messaging. When you communicate over a distance, a lot of context gets lost. In this case, emojis make digital messages more human and personal, emphasizing what the sender is trying to convey. But in some cases, adding emojis, particularly the wacky ones, can undermine the author’s professionalism.

Before sending any quirky emoji, make sure to know the recipient first to avoid misunderstandings. Another way is to wait until you see how the recipient will receive emojis before sending a bunch of smileys. The rule of thumb is to use one emoji for each email or chat message unless it’s your first time communicating with that person. In this case, omitting the emoji is better than risking a misinterpretation.

Tech failures

The remote workforce is reliant on technology for collaboration and communication. When your employees are all working from home, it can be challenging to work and communicate together face-to-face. The only things making remote work feasible are collaboration, file-sharing, and other digital solutions.

Although today’s tech is way ahead of what it used to be decades ago, it still comes with a few glitches and failures, all recipe for miscommunication. Webcams fail, and poor Internet connections have become a regular part of every videoconference meeting. As a result, the affected participant is left scrambling to fix the tech issue and catch up on the discussion. These situations often happen to workers who don’t have access to commercial-grade devices and software. Their devices may not be fit for work purposes.

Employers should be proactive in addressing workers’ tech difficulties. They must ensure they don’t encounter these issues before working from home. This is important in effectively managing a virtual workforce. As an employer, you must provide them with everything they need to carry out their work efficiently and productively. Remember, failures in software and hardware can cause miscommunication.

Providing workers with new devices and software is unnecessary for companies operating on a strict budget. Consult your IT team on how to invest in suitable company devices. Significant improvements can go a long way in improving your team’s chances of success.

Distractions at home

The workplace has distractions, such as the chatter from the nearby pantry or the ongoing meeting on the floor above. But these distractions are nothing compared to the ones experienced by remote employees. They must deal with chores, kids, pets, package deliveries, or the sounds from the kitchen or TV. These distractions can easily pull them away from their computers or can even be the reason for their absence.

Although most of these distractions will only require a few minutes of their time, they have a more prolonged impact on the focus and concentration of the workers themselves. Study shows it takes almost 30 minutes to get back on track after a distraction. If you have two distractions at home, you lose an entire hour.

Managing a remote team involves a lot of people-related issues. Workers will likely encounter many problems working remotely, hindering their team access.

Establishing a system when your team transitions to remote work is crucial. You can invest in small work tools, such as messaging platforms and cloud storage, to give them access to information to easily catch up and give them more control. Also, schedule frequent check-ins in case they need help.

Whether remote or not, good communication is vital in creating a happier and more productive workforce. As an employer, you must make conscious efforts to ensure everyone communicates clearly and collaborates efficiently.

The situations above are just one of the many communication challenges in the virtual workplace. You’ll encounter even more difficult challenges handling your team as you progress. The best you can do is to improve virtual communication while boosting collaboration and employee morale.

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