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Top 3 Essential Communication Tools For Your Virtual Office

Grant Merriel

It is well known that communication is critical to your company’s success. Only an effective process of sharing information can build strong relationships, lead to new ideas and innovation, and provide a positive work environment. 

A company’s welfare depends mostly on the effectiveness of its communication, not only between a subordinate and a manager (eg, employees) but also among suppliers and customers. In a nutshell, communication is the root of every company’s success. 

The golden rules of transferring information and knowledge stay the same for both traditional and remote teams. No matter what kind of business you run, communication tools are vital for your company, especially if you want to build and maintain lasting relationships at all levels. 

Nevertheless, business models continue to evolve more and more and are replacing traditional working environments with virtual addresses and offices. As a result, there have been major changes as far as the concept of communication is concerned against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought it into sharper focus. 

Therefore, a lack of appropriate tools can only create a tense work environment, where people are not motivated and inspired enough to ensure the growth of your business. 

Table of contents: 

  1. Can virtual communication be as effective as traditional communication?
  2. Most common virtual communication issues
  3. Top 3 best company communication tools to use with your virtual office
  4. Mistakes to AVOID when choosing the best communication tool for your company

1. Can virtual communication be as effective as traditional communication?

Communicating Virtually on a Computer

There is a lot of debate over whether virtual communication (video conferencing, instant communication, and email communication) can be as effective as traditional communication (oral and written). The Internet seems to become more and more a stable and reliable environment where people share information. 

In spite of the fact that virtual office’s are providing secure mailboxes for business where physical mail can be received – This is an example of how communication is turning to be completely virtual, where it is not just video conferences over the internet but also physical interaction and mail that is virtual.  

Winger (2005) pointed out that face-to-face communication remains important because it involves senses such as smell, sight, touch, and sound. But when it comes to business, communication is all about sending and receiving information in the fastest and clearest way possible. 

Therefore, virtual communication can sometimes be more effective than traditional communication for a company, due to the following reasons:

  • During a video conference, the communication can have a faster response rate compared to the traditional methods of communication because the participants in this process must focus only on their interlocutor. 
  • Written communication creates a record of evidence and gives the receiver enough time to think and react, which sometimes can be vital to business success.

Undoubtedly, you’ll have to keep following the basics of communication, as it’s obvious that during a video conference, you are not allowed to interrupt the person you are engaged in a conversation with, even though this ‘unwritten rule’ is constantly being broken. At the same time, it is necessary for you to learn a new set of rules that you should apply during the virtual interaction with other people. 

Hence, if virtual tools can successfully replace a face-to-face dialogue, it means that poor communication is due to other causes. 

2. Most common virtual communication issues

Working Virtually at a Cafe

Even when you use the best corporate communication tools available, you still have to master the fine art of communication in order to share information effectively. This means that it is strongly recommended that you avoid the following errors:

  • Ignoring nonverbal communication – Although you might hear that nonverbal communication plays a minor role in the digital world, you could remain impressed by how extraordinarily powerful facial expressions, gestures and posture during a video conference can be. This is why ensuring all attendees have their webcam’s turned on is extremely important.
  • Creating social isolation – Even if the global workspace has undergone dramatic changes, remote workers should avoid the pitfall that social isolation can cause. After all, one of the main roles of technology is connecting people, not isolating us further. 
  • Not establishing eye contact – It is hugely important during a video meeting to grab your listener’s undivided attention. During a face-to-face conversation, you should establish a mutual gaze. In a video conference, you just have to look into the camera (or continue looking at yourself, as when your eyes dart around the screen, it is obvious you are doing another task or activity). 
  • Neglecting the small talk – Casual conversation helps create a social cohesion across teams and it can be defined as a key business skill, so be sure to master questions outside of just “how was your weekend?” and “this weather is crazy”. 
  • Making assumptions and jumping to conclusions – Virtual communication must be flawless and watertight. According to a famous Danish proverb, “it’s better to ask twice than to lose your way once”.

3. Top 3 best company communication tools to use with your virtual office

Virtual Office Setup

Now that you understand the importance of communication among remote teams, the mistakes you must avoid during group or individual meetings, and the advantages a virtual office can have in your communication, it’s time for you to know what are the best corporate communication tools that you can use to manage workers in your company or interact with suppliers and clients.

1. Video conferencing tools for synchronous communication 

Although video conferencing is not a new concept, these tools are a vital business solution for managers, employees, and clients that must communicate despite the physical distance. 

You may choose the most suitable tool according to the specific needs of your company, such as:

  • Number of invitees to a meeting – Some tools can support up to 3000 conference participants;
  • Screen sharing feature – Especially for webinars, the screen sharing feature is highly important;
  • Unlimited recording – You may need this feature in case you have to record and share often a meeting or a webinar;
  • Meetings length – Some tools may put a limit on the meeting lengths while some others allow you to spend as much time as you need during a conference.

Some of the most commonly used video conferencing tools are:

1. Zoom 

Pros: The free version allows you to invite up to 100 people to your meeting

Cons: Free meetings can last a maximum of 40 minutes

Price: Basic – Free, Pro – $14.99/month, Business – $19.99/month, Enterprise –  $19.99/month

2. Google Hangouts

Pros: It is completely free

Cons: You can invite a maximum of 10 people to your meetings

Price: Free

3. Skype (Meet Now)

Pros: Unlimited meeting time

Cons: It allows you to invite a maximum of 50 people to your meeting

Price: Free

2. File-sharing tools

Some years ago, there were no sufficient solutions for sharing large files. Nowadays, the tools that can allow you to share big files easily are crucial for any kind of business. 

These are the main features you should keep in mind when choosing a file-sharing tool for your company:

  • Storage space – You can choose an unlimited storage plan if you consider it necessary;
  • Time to upload – Some tools can allow you to upload a 195 MB file in less than one minute.

Some of the most commonly used file-sharing tools are:

1. Google Drive 

Pros: Compatible with a wide range of devices, Free plan available with 15 GB of storage 

Cons: It is limited to Gmail 

Price: 100 GB:  $1.99/month, 200 GB: $2.99/month, 2 TB: $9.99/month 

2. Dropbox Business 

Pros: Easy file synchronisation across multiple devices, Large storage space

Cons: High price for business plans

Price: Standard – $15/month, Advanced – $25/user/month, Enterprise – Contact vendor

3. WeTransfer Pro 

Pros: Great interface

Cons: The price is a bit high

Price: $12.00/month, Annual plan available at $120/year

3. Project management tools

You will surely need a tool to organize work and manage projects and tasks, along with communicating your requirements. 

Although the most recent project management tools can provide a wide range of  features, the most important ones for you to consider are:

  • Planning and scheduling – You can plan work with tasks, workflows, calendars, etc.;
  • Assessment – This feature helps you track productivity and evaluate the tasks;
  • Team collaboration – An efficient tool must allow the members of the team to communicate, share files and create dashboards;
  • Reporting – You can get reports regarding your project budget and team performance, as well as a KPI dashboard.

Some of the most commonly used project management tools are:

1. Click Up 

Pros: Efficient dashboard view, Excellent customer support, Great cost-effectiveness

Cons: Too many features and too much option for customisation 

Price: Basic – Free, Unlimited – $5.00/month

2. Asana 

Pros: Great organisation and visibility

Cons: Not very friendly to new users, no time tracking feature

Price: Basic – Free, available for teams up to 15 people, Premium – $10.99/month, Annual plan available at $13.49/year, Business – $24.99/year

3. Monday 

Pros: Great tracking features, Powerful communication tool

Cons: Limited mobile app, Difficult to track time and expenses, No free version

Price: $7.80/month

4. Mistakes to AVOID when choosing the best communication tool for your company

Working From Home Station

Although knowing the main features of each communication tool can help you choose the most suitable ones for your company, it still might not be enough. A few commonly made mistake that you should avoid are the following:

  • Choosing a tool before analysing the amount of information that has to be communicated – A small amount of information may require a different tool in comparison to a big amount of information (eg, more in-depth conversations and debates.   
  • Ignoring the frequency of communication – You may need to find different solutions according to the frequency you have to share information with your employees or clients. Written communication, for example, has great significance in the business world, but is also time-consuming.
  • Overlooking the type of information you must share – Sometimes the best way to exchange information and ideas is verbal or visual, especially when you need to build trust with prospects or customers.
  • Not using the same tools as your customers – If all of your customers send you Microsoft Word files and you only have Google Docs, it probably won’t be good for you to select Google. Same with conferencing systems – If you learn how to master Google Meet but all of your customers use Microsoft Teams, it would be best for you to have chosen Microsoft Teams instead.

In summary, the essential communication tools to use with your virtual office are video conferencing, file-sharing, and project management tools.

Selecting suitable communication tools that support your businesses operations as well as customer interactions are vital for your growth. Virtual offices (just like the ones provided by B2B HQ) can work as another form of ‘virtual communication’ as unlike your traditional office, all managers, employees, and clients can connect and share information without high costs or inconvenience locations. 

In simple words, efficient communication is the foundation of all human relationships and human relationships are the key to business success.

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