The Benefits of Virtual Communication Platforms in the Workplace

This week, I spoke with my college friend, Shelby, about how her position as a supervisor evolved since the pandemic occurred. She currently serves as an Intake Coordinator Team Lead where she administers the enrollment of new patients into a facility. The company’s purpose is to assist the families of adolescents with disabilities by providing health care services at their campsite.

Shelby explained that her company began working from home in March to eliminate physical interactions in the office and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This transition has caused supervisors to strategize methods that guarantee the company can maintain its productivity without compromising their employees’ health.

Shelby currently manages a team of four employees, including one that recently came onboard in the midst of this major change. Before the pandemic, supervisory positions at this company mainly managed their teams while they indulged in daily tasks. They also provided their staff with useful resources to help them achieve longevity in the company.

Attending sponsored workshops, holding physical meetings and spending individual time with employees throughout the week were some of the popular techniques used to educate employees on how to obtain the organization’s overall goals. Now, the company’s supervisors, including Shelby, are additionally responsible for innovating new ways to ensure their teams remain as efficient as before and are being properly supported at home.

A major way this has been achieved is through using company-approved virtual communications platforms. Popular outlets, like Microsoft Teams, have helped Shelby communicate with her group remotely through instant messaging and virtual face-to-face interactions.

Shelby confirmed this platform has been beneficial because it helped strengthen communication among her team. It introduced a way she could provide consistent updates, give visual presentations and host virtual training sessions with her staff without leaving the comfort of her home.

Weekly Team Meetings

Shelby said that she conducted weekly meetings with each of her employees using the video calling option on Microsoft Teams. She used this time as an opportunity for her staff to address any concerns related to the cases they were working on.

Shelby also gave her team individual constructive criticism to help improve their visibility for the organization’s benefit. She often shared tips with her staff that supported the company’s mission to maintain its cohesiveness while they continue to work remotely. For instance, Shelby recommended her group use techniques such as cleaning work emails and dedicating a space at home for work purposes only to ensure they are organized and prepared for any situation that may occur.

Shelby also acclaimed the use of Microsoft Teams for increased interactions among her staff on a daily basis. Working from home required the team to give updates on their activities throughout the day to avoid any scheduling conflicts within the group. This technique could have influenced some teammates to feel more comfortable in their new work environment and become more vocal about work matters. Moreover, Shelby and her staff used the calendar feature on the application to share their scheduled shifts for the upcoming weeks to avoid future mishaps.

Virtual Training Workshops

Shelby has been able to prep her newest employee during the pandemic using the virtual communication platform as well. She created biweekly, virtual development workshops to help educate the new hire about the role in the company.

The intimate meetings provide the employee a chance to build a professional relationship with Shelby and it develops effective communication skills, which can also benefit how the employee interacts with clients in the future. Shelby can successfully assess the member’s capability to absorb the information learned in the training without physically being in the traditional office setting. The shared screen option on Microsoft Teams gives Shelby the opportunity to display examples during these presentations to provide additional clarification about work-related topics.

Virtual Team-Building

Lastly, Shelby discussed the importance of maintaining a friendly relationship with her staff in order to build a strong foundation for effective teamwork. She explained that her organization is small, and the employees have always shared close friendships. Therefore, it was crucial that the new employee was given equal opportunities to get to know coworkers and ensure the foundation stayed solid. This has been achieved by the company hosting virtual happy hours. These opportunities allow senior management and their staff to interact with each other in a light-hearted environment from a safe distance.

Briana Richardson-Jones serves as a Justice Department (DOJ) program analyst. Before becoming a federal employee, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s of Science in criminology with a public policy concentration. She believes she can help prospective and new employees navigate government efficiently while currently doing the same. Briana has discovered creative tips that can help others “work smarter” in the future. She also plans on combining her love for writing and criminal justice to educate readers about current events and community issues affecting people worldwide.

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