Overcoming Communication Barriers in Virtual Teams Requires Flexibility

By Mike Ivory on August 7, 2014 in Technology

Communication Devices

In his webinar, "The Virtual Agency: How to Sell and Service Anywhere, Anytime", Steve Anderson discusses reasons why you could use remote staffing, what kinds of jobs you could potentially delegate to these remote staff members, and where to find remote staff members. In an attempt to dive deeper into the idea of a virtual insurance agency, we looked at some research done by Software Advice.

A recent survey found that 30% of chief information officers feel communication is the top challenge of managing virtual projects. Based on this information, Software Advice conducted a survey of people who regularly work on virtual projects to find out their top challenges. Here's the results:

Top Challenge: Communication

  • 38% of respondents said that communication is the top challenge for successfully completing virtual projects.
  • 33% contributed the lack of the right software or technology as the primary challenge of working on virtual projects.
  • 28% said that a lack of productivity is the biggest issue with virtual projects, since many team members believed those who work remotely are held less accountable.

Top Project Issues

Which Communication Channels are Preferred?

Knowing that communication is the top challenge of virtual teams, Software Advice dug deeper into which methods of communication different team members preferred. This may help managers put together virtual teams and projects in a more efficient manner to get the most work done.

  • 41% of virtual team members surveyed selected email as their most preferred communication tool followed by phone, virtual conferencing, and discussion forums/chat rooms.

Top Communication Channels

Younger Team Members Prefer Digital Communications

Taking it a step further, Software Advice looked at which forms of communication different age groups preferred. As many could probably predict, preference for digital communication (such as email) decreased with age, while the preference for analog communications (namely, phone) increased with age.

  • 46% of those aged 25-34 selected email as a top commmunication preference followed by 35-44 year olds (41%) and 45-54 year olds (36%). 
  • Phone was most preferred by team members aged 45-54 (41%).

Demographic Preferences for Communication

Conclusion

From this research, it's clear to see that communication is the core issue for virtual projects and virtual teams. How you go about solving the communication issue can really depend on the make-up of your team. Having flexibility and, in most cases, using multiple solutions will be required to succesfully implement a virtual team and virtual office environment.  When thinking about a virtual insurance agency, it's important to keep this in mind. Ask yourself:

  • How will you construct your virtual team?
  • What will your virtual team be doing? (One-time projects vs. actual staff members)
  • What technology will you use to help your virtual team communicate effectively?

Steve Anderson covers all of these topics in detail as well as many other "virtual agency" topics in his webinar: "The Virtual Agency: How to Sell and Service Anywhere, Anytime".

Listen to Steve Anderson discuss "The Virtual Agency." What is it, why you need it, and tools to help.

Watch the Free Webinar Recording

Source: Survey: How Team Members Prefer to Communicate on Virtual Projects

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Mike Ivory
Mike Ivory

Mike is the Marketing & Sales Operations Specialist at AgencyBloc. He manages all technology for sales & marketing operations and analyzes results to maximize our success. Favorite quote: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott More articles

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