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How to replicate in-person interactions in a virtual world

Business woman looking at monitors in virtual meeting

More Australians are working remotely than ever before. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Productivity Commission estimated over 40% of Australian companies and workers pivoted to remote work. Many workers are still undertaking (and demanding) a ‘hybrid’ office and work-from-home model and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

Innovative technology and remote communication has clearly changed the ways we interact with our teams. So, how can leaders and teams ensure personal touches aren’t lost in virtual interactions, to ensure we replicate in-person interactions in a virtual world?

Ask all meeting attendees to use video

Video interactions have proven to keep us more engaged with one another, increase virtual presence, and decrease multitasking. Think about it: if people can see each other’s facial expressions, unique mannerisms, and gestures as they’re talking, it’s much more similar to an in-person meeting. It adds another layer of connection—through visuals—to the otherwise one-sided interaction, making it easier for an audience to hear the speaker’s message.

Check in with your team before getting to business

It’s easy to forgo a pre-meeting check-in when there’s a long list of agenda items or stressful issues to resolve. But small things like this make a difference in employee engagement and personal connections. If you were to walk into a conference room with your team, you’d likely make small talk with them for a few minutes before the meeting began. Recreating this small talk connection with virtual team members—even if it feels like a time-waster, it will connect you to your teams’ lives outside of work, driving that crucial engagement and connection.

Make written communication as clear as possible

Virtual meeting technology has come a long way since its origin. Use it! If your technology doesn’t offer this automatically, while checking in, create a list on a shared screen with names of all attendees. This helps people on the call or video conference remember who’s actually in the room, or who else is virtual. Add another note with a clear agenda—what do you want to accomplish by the end of this meeting? What are the project’s next steps? Who needs to do what? Be as specific and clear as possible so everyone leaves the meeting with the knowledge they need to take next steps immediately.

As the business world shifts to adapt to new and improved technology, and as the rise in telecommuting proves effective, managers, leaders—and your entire organisation—need to be prepared to engage virtually and be more productive than ever. If you need help, contact us today.

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