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Communication Strategies for Virtual Teams


The COVID-19 forced drastic changes on many companies, which had to close down offices and allocate their staff to work from home. This practice significantly affected the effectiveness of communication strategies and team cohesion. Working from home puts additional obstacles between managers and workers, creating a sense of isolation and a lack of supervision and control. Communication strategies that worked in the office, thus, needed to be changed. Even though vaccines are on the way and humanity will overcome the disease eventually, it is likely for companies to keep some of their non-essential employees at home, to save on office spaces (Marlow et al., 2017). As such, the challenges of communication with virtual teams will remain relevant. The purpose of this paper is to provide solutions for the problems of worker isolation and supervision of from-home employees.

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Communication Problem: Worker Isolation

Increasing employee motivation and job satisfaction are some of the objectives of communication in business. Seeing others, communicating with them, and working towards common goals is important for keeping employees satisfied, motivated, and engaged. A from-home environment significantly reduces the amount of communication and face-to-face contact between employees and managers, resulting in a loss of focus and motivation. It also increases the number of misunderstandings, as instructions given in written form or over a vocal message are often absent on small details, and communication via the internet makes it difficult to ensure the other person understood the message. As a result, employees become more dejected and more likely to suffer from burnout and a lack of motivation (Marlow et al., 2017).

Solutions to Worker Isolation

A communication strategy for from-home workers has to revolve around frequency of different types of communication to keep them engaged and feeling as part of the group. A good option would be to rely on a mix of video/verbal communication channels for different types of tasks. Video chat rooms can be open for casual talking with one another, teamworking and team-building. Conventional text-based chats can be used as a means of giving instructions and asking for feedback – text-based forms of communication have a sense of permanency and allow individuals to double-check instructions and ask for clarification if needed. Workers need to be allowed to talk to one another over small and non-work related things, to maintain a good work-life balance as well (Guffey & Loewy, 2015).

Communication Problem: Lack of Control

Another issue with communication with from-home employees is that there are very few mechanisms to control the productivity of the workers. Managers can give the initial task and require updates, but cannot ensure that the worker stays at the workplace all the time, being productive. It has been noted that employees without supervision often perform the necessary minimum and not more. Finally, quality may vary from one employee to another, as the final work can be judged only at the end of the assignment. Communicating demands becomes more difficult, and harms the company in the process (Marlow et al., 2017).

Solutions for Improving Control

Improving control over quality through communication means improving both the presence and the availability of the manager. This can be achieved through various means. Verbal communication channels will allow for connecting and asking pertinent quality-related questions, improving the speed, engagement, and delivery. Specialized workflow software allows for supervising employees and ensuring a lack of absences and slow-downs in the process. Finally, communicating the purposes of assignment, the role of individual workers, and the potential rewards can help build up a culture of trust and quality, where employees can be trusted to complete tasks with less supervision, based on motivation alone (Guffey & Loewy, 2015).


To conclude, all these solutions have advantages: the number of from-home workers is going to grow, communication patterns will shift and new theoretical frameworks are required.


Guffey, M. E., & Loewy, D. (2015). Essentials of business communication. Cengage Learning.

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Marlow, S. L., Lacerenza, C. N., & Salas, E. (2017). Communication in virtual teams: A conceptual framework and research agenda. Human Resource Management Review, 27(4), 575-589.

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