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Long before the Covid-19 pandemic hits the world, there are already thousands of people who choose to work virtually. Some of them have created successful careers in their chosen fields. The setup of working virtually keeps on innovating nowadays with the help of technology and new tools. Although team members are not working in the same physical office, there are various ways they can work effectively and work productively. However, challenges are often unavoidable in a virtual working space.
Now that most things are going virtual, how can you improve interpersonal relations at work?
Simply defined, a virtual team refers to a group of people who work towards a company's goals via the Internet. A virtual team can work with a wide range of job types. What makes it different from the typical office space is that the virtual team members do not share the same physical space when working.
A virtual work environment may appear both challenging and exciting for workers. The following are the known benefits of working virtually:
#1 Working virtually is more cost-effective than maintaining a physical office for both employers and employees
#2 A growing team is easily scalable; business owners need not create new physical spaces
#3 A virtual team can be composed of skilled individuals from a global talent pool
#4 Virtual workers are observed to be happier and more productive because their job offers better flexibility
#5 Working virtually promotes a better work-life balance
#6 Virtual meetings can be easily conducted using efficient and user-friendly tools
An online definition of interpersonal relations states:
"… a strong, deep, or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring. The context can vary from family or kinship relations, friendship, marriage, relations with associates, work, clubs, neighbourhoods, and places of worship. Relationships may be regulated by law, custom, or mutual agreement, and form the basis of social groups and society as a whole."
An article published by Healthline.com also stated that interpersonal relations impact all life's aspects – at work, home, and leisure activities. Without a vivid and strong relationship, a person may feel sad and less valued. The person may also lack social support.
Nowadays, it is challenging to maintain or improve interpersonal relationships because of technology and virtual communication. For instance, work-from-home individuals usually do not experience in-person communication with their colleagues at work. It may seem to be difficult to create a harmonious relationship with the whole team. To build successful interpersonal work relations, there should be honesty, commitment, passion, and communication. And now that everything is going virtual, there should be proper knowledge on applying innovation and virtual-related services.
The common interpersonal skills that can help improve communication in a virtual workspace include teamwork, empathy, conflict resolution, negotiation, problem-solving, and decision-making.
Interaction is vital when you are a part of a virtual team. Aside from the fact that it is essential for more effective communication, it also can promote career development.
You may already hear that using tools like Skype, Zoom, and other virtual communication apps is the most common way remote workers communicate with the rest of the team. However, this is not enough. To establish a better team and promote productivity, the following tips on how to improve interpersonal relations at work can be a big help:
#1 Make sure to be knowledgeable about the various communication technologies
Since most of your work will be using the Internet and other digital tools, you need to ensure that you keep yourself adept with the current innovations. Technological trends may be new to you, but that should not stop you from using them. Learn how to use tools like Zoom, Skype, and project management software. Be aware of the various communication platforms of your company. Yes, some of them can seem to be complicated, but as you practice using them, you will eventually enhance your skills and use them effectively.
#2 Always keep a positive outlook on work and life.
One of the common challenges when working virtually is how to stay motivated to give your best at work. This is the time when you have to encourage yourself that each day is a golden opportunity. You can always be better at anything. Be grateful for everything that you have. Learn how to set aside your personal matter from work. That will only hinder you from achieving your goals successfully. You may feel stressed in some situations, but learning how to deal with it with a positive outlook can bring you massive improvements.
#2 Develop the habit of being concise, clear, and consistent
These three qualities will help you keep focused on your job and positively impact your teammates. Consistency means your team members know the time and manner you communicate with them and do your job. Being clear with your message means you're sticking with the facts and what's needed. When delivering a concise message, it means that you're not wasting your words and times when communicating with your co-workers. This can be applied when delivering your report, either written or during video calls. All these can show that you value the time and skills of your other colleagues. When that happens, a good relationship among team members is built.
#4 Be friendly
Indeed, it can be challenging to distinguish your co-employees' traits when you only meet and virtually talk to them. Be friendly and be professional always. If you're working with individuals from other parts of the world, make sure you understand and appreciate their culture and preferences. Learning their work values will also help you act properly when working with them.
#5 Learn and practice active listening
Your team members will feel respected when you listen to them during virtual meetings. There are some ways on how you can promote active listening. Maintain eye contact and ask for clarifications and suggestions. Be open as well for feedback and constructive criticism.
We've published an article about active listening and how it can help employees. You can read it here.
#7 Engage in small talk.
It's fine to have a short and casual conversation with the other members of the team. This will help create a rapport and improve communication. However, this should be for the goal of working together seamlessly.
#8 Be assertive
It is imperative to be assertive when working virtually. Be confident with your skills and capabilities. Don't be afraid to share and express your needs. However, this should be done professionally. Know your limits as well.
#9 Continue to learn new things
From time to time, technology changes. Innovation continues, and new knowledge is waiting for you to take them. Enroll in a new course that will let you enhance your skills and knowledge. You can also start a new hobby or an activity that can help you stay focused and relaxed.
#10 Practice empathy
Putting yourself in someone's shoes will help you understand your colleagues when something terrible happens. Empathy can help a person in making healthy decisions. Practice this with your team members, and you'll be surprised with how these can improve your team members' interpersonal relations.
An interpersonal relationship is an integral part of every team's success. The world today keeps on embracing the trends of virtual workspaces. As part of any of the million virtual teams out there, you should always remind yourself to practice the tips mentioned above.