With the working from home becoming the ‘new norm’ for the foreseeable future, organisations across industries are trying to device methods and adapt best practices to enable impactful collaboration. Efficient communication is one of the key factors that determine the same. Presenting a list of organisational practices that can help improve virtual communication and collaboration - Platform Expertise Organisations usually have a standardised platform to connect with each other on daily basis. However, It is equally important to be able to connect with clients and agencies, on the different platforms of their preference, with ease. Hence, it is important to ensure adequate team exposure to different available platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams. This can be facilitated by holding internal meetings across such platforms, and often. Synchronization Of Time Zones For Remote Teams Your organisation may have a global network of remotely working individuals - from team members to clients and vendors. It is vital to set proper boundaries and respect their time zones. With everyone working from home, the lines between professional and personal lives can get pretty blurry. Thus, it is important for a leader and the organisation to ensure that each team gets adequate time to unwind, and connect with family and friends. The individual wellness should be a priority. Weekly Catch-Ups The virtual work routine has taken away the simple pleasures of the daily office routine. From coffee breaks, random office jokes, water cooler laughter, and the priceless desk banter - all of these simple, indispensable parts of our work life are now a thing of the past. This missing human touch makes it important for a team to connect over drinks, laughter, and or even meals. A chance to let their hair down is important for team members to feel connected with each other, and blow off steam. Virtual working hours have overtaken our lives and often, leave us grasping for a break. Technical Support Depending on the availability of internet, the data usage, and financial limitations - your team members will face various challenges while working from home. It is important for an organisation to be forthcoming and accommodating about all such challenges to ensure smooth and sustained productivity. Plan The Meeting Agenda In Advance ‘Always be prepared’ may be the motto of the American scouts, but it can just as easily be yours! With virtual working hours making screen time a resented and dreaded thing, time is of the ultimate essence! It is important that each meeting be planned ahead in time. This will help ensure that the team members can make the best use of the time spent in the meeting. These days, everyone’s calendar seems to be over-booked and it can be frustrating to sit in a meeting that seems to go nowhere. Furthermore, it allows for better inputs during the meeting, and leave everyone with a sense of accomplishment. Share The ‘M-o-M’ Post Meetings A follow up mail containing the minutes of the meeting is a good practice to maintain. It allows for the key highlights to be retained. This mail can also contain expected deliverables, along with the decided timelines. A systematic approach can enable smooth operations and save last minute panic. Furthermore, this will allow the team members who might have missed out on the meeting to catch-up on the discussion and their expected deliverables. Facilitate Time For Individual Projects Often times, a team member can find themselves stretched too thin across different projects and miss out on the daily to-dos. This can have a detrimental impact on individual growth and also cause burnout. Furthermore, the stress of lagging behind in the daily tasks can cause stress and anxiety. Correct posture A good posture sends nonverbal signals of energy, enthusiasm, and health. Conversely, poor posture makes people appear uninterested, uncertain, or lethargic. When it comes to posture during a video meeting, typically only your body from the waist up is visible. But that in no way means that one gets a hall pass to be careless and do thinks that may reflect badly on their overall appearance. This may include shaking your legs underneath the table, slouching during the call, or even looking distracted and not paying attention to the screen. It is advisable to sit up straight, put both feet on the floor, then take a deep breath and exhale through your mouth to relax your neck and throat. Posture not only shapes the way we feel, it also shapes the way we think about ourselves, which in turn can impact our self-esteem. Safe Space For Informal Conversation It is particularly important for a well-functioning virtual team that enough time is allowed for informal communication. If this does not happen, there is a risk that the trusted relationship between the team members will get lost, which has a negative effect on trust among each other. For this purpose, informal team engagement sessions can be scheduled. Another fun way to enable and reinforce the feeling of belongingness is to indulge in casual conversation every now and then, during work calls. Conclusion The three cornerstones of healthy communication in the virtual context are - a. Communicate in a structured manner b. Define level of urgency and clearly c.Indicate which tasks are required. In addition to developing the right communication channels, it is also important to develop the corresponding skills such as media competence. Of course, it goes without saying that regardless of all the available technology, nothing can replace face-to-face communication. That's why personal meeting, especially at the beginning of a new working relationship, play an important role in building trust. They significantly reduce the chance of misunderstandings. However, in case that’s not possible, impactful virtual onboarding is a must!