Team Communication: Online and Off

Published by Judy Melson

In order to communicate effectively, just how entangled in the “World Wide Web” do teams have to be? My first time living abroad, I realized that my team was just a click away, even though I was 6,000 miles from home. Technology was my lifeline for news and my savior from homesickness, although I have to admit there were some frustrating moments: coaching colleagues how to join Skype or unmute their microphones, returning faulty hardware in a foreign language, or trying to remember who could FaceTime, Google+ hangout, Facebook chat, WhatsApp, or Viber.

Teams are interdependent groups of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Relying on one another can be uncomfortable if communication is lacking and – like it or not – technology often drives team communications. Whether your team is in another country or cohabiting the cubicle jungle, telecommunications are everywhere. I’ve seen many office settings, where instant messaging or emailing is far preferable to picking up the phone or walking across the aisle.

Much like my adjustment to technology abroad, consultants adapt to the technology and cultural norms of each client. We are fluent in many methods: conference call, screen-sharing, webinar, instant messenger, survey, and presentation apps, because these technologies enable knowledge sharing and collaboration. That said, we also recognize when to unplug and seek face-to-face meetings, interviews, flip charts, memos and post-it notes.

While each team may have different needs and methods, fostering effective communication is always a step in the right direction.