Communication is a very important factor in all aspects of human life because human beings are naturally social beings. Communication is defined as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings to someone else (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/communication).”
This definition encompasses the three ways of communicating which are:
1) Verbal communication is communication expressed in spoken words; orally spoken rather than written down such as during conversations with friends or colleagues or meetings in the workplace; oral class recitations or voice calls with clients
2) Written communication on the other hand is expressing oneself with the use of words through writing them on a piece of paper or through the use of the computer such as emails, blogs, memo, etc.
3) Non-verbal communication, unlike the preceding two, this does not make use of words. It uses body language including gestures, facial and eye expressions and posture; communication through objects like symbols, clothing and architecture. It has also come to include the stress, voice quality and intonation of the speaker in actual speech, but not the words themselves.
No matter the kind, good communication is the key to a good relationship – between team mates and between the virtual assistant and the client. Good communication becomes even more significant in the virtual assistant’s workplace considering the hours, cultures and personalities of those involved and how they affect its dynamics.
In a regular workplace, an employee needs to communicate with the team to build camaraderie and rapport as well as for projects to be successful. The same is true in a virtual environment, it being more dependent on the ability and the willingness of people to communicate verbally and in writing as phone calls and emails are the primary means of communication in the virtual office. A little less on the use of non-verbal cues as these are primarily anchored on body language which most often than not are not seen by the client.
Advantages of Communication in the Workplace
1) Foundations are laid and expectations managed. It is through communication that employees are briefed and oriented into the system and instructions given and clarified for the employee to know what is expected of her and for the client to determine whether instructions were clear. Almost always, the VA spends the first few minutes of her shift talking to the client for tasks to be done for the shift as well as the specifications for each. In the course of her shift, she gets to constantly communicate with the client and team members through Skype or email for further instructions or help.
2) Conflicts are avoided and collaboration developed. Discussing issues and problems that may arise in the course of doing the job avoids future conflicts. With proper communication, chaos and confusion are avoided because ideas are exchanged, feelings clarified and a relationship cultivated, making way for a collaborative environment and for trust and respect to be developed. In a virtual workplace, dealing with different kinds of clients, good communication certainly helps with managing this diversity.
3) Morale and productivity are boosted. With communication, team mates get to support one another in every way possible and necessary, leaving no room for misunderstanding, thereby increasing productivity and confidence in dealing with clients and undertaking tasks; reducing delay and wastage. In addition, constant communication among team mates builds a friendly environment conducive to efficiency and productivity; contributing to a happy, satisfied workforce with high employee morale which in effect makes the client happy because happy employees do not only put in the hours but turn in excellent quality work.
Consequently, the lack of communication in the workplace could lead to waste of time and energy due to miscommunications and a lack of trust. Team members who do not communicate do not get feedback to enable them to correct their ways with proper guidance or resources for work.
Research shows that an organization with competent employees and strong support can still fail without the most important element of success which is communication. Without it, business goals cannot be established, much less achieved and become efficient.
Communication is the key to building relationships and relationships are important for any business. No organization-virtual or otherwise can exist without communication because it supports all aspects of the work environment. Without a good relationship with our clients, they will take their business elsewhere. Without a harmonious relationship with the team, there will be chaos. Communicating with these important people in our workplace makes work and life in general easier to manage.
In this day and age, communication can be limitless due to numerous avenues, and it is now that it should be truly explored as a means to build those important relationships. Start with your team, today.