Three Most Common Causes of Miscommunication in the Virtual Workplace

by Marie Rodriguez

Workplace communication has transformed in recent years. Companies have access to 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 talk about the most common cause of miscommunication in managing a remote team and ways to address them.


Adding emojis

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

Make sure to know the recipient first personally before sending any quirky emoji 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, it’s better to omit the emoji than risk 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, which are all recipes 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. This means they have to ensure they don’t encounter these issues before working from home. This is important in effectively managing a virtual workforce. As an employer, it is your job to provide them with everything they need to carry out their work efficiently and productively. Remember, failures in software and hardware can cause miscommunication.

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

Distractions at home

The workplace has its own set of 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 have to 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 already lose an entire hour from it.

Managing a remote team involves a lot of people-related issues. This means workers are likely to encounter many problems when working remotely, hindering their access to their teams.

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

Remote or not, good communication plays a vital role in creating a happier and more productive workforce. As an employer, you have to 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. As you move forward, you’ll encounter even more difficult challenges handling your team. The best you can do is take critical steps to improve virtual communication while boosting collaboration and employee morale in the process.

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