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Best Practices for Virtual DEI Teams: Communication for Success

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Virtual teams are a one of the 21st century's greatest tools in the workplace. Virtual teams

can connect folks across time zones, geographic location and allow for greater

collaboration to increase effectiveness. The key aspect of a successful virtual team is communication. Healthy interpersonal communication increases 1) trust, 2) commitment to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team or task force, and 3) facilitates knowledge sharing – all things that are needed for a prosperous team.

Communication builds relationships, and those relationships are the bridge between shared expertise and increased performance. DEI teams need to critically consider how they can facilitate a foundation of trust so that they can reach their goals and make an impact at their workplace to make it a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.

Build Communication Expectations

Communication expectations are essentially the patterns of interpersonal contact through which information is shared among members of your taskforce. Relationships, and our social interactions, dictate formal and informal communication that leads to sharing information, knowledge. Without having face-to-face interactions, communication needs to be structured and intentionally influenced. Below are some data-driven ways to level up your virtual team in their borderless office.

"Communication builds trust and collaboration; We need both for virtual DEI teams to be successful." - Kelsie

Across science on virtual teams, trust is critical for communication and knowledge sharing. Teams should start by building trust and reducing possible mistrust.
  • Make your team more than “just a face on a screen”: Meeting with cameras on is critical in the first few team meetings. You don't want your team members to see each other as faceless entities. After orientation, there can be flexibility to turn cameras off to reduce 'zoom fatigue'.

  • If possible, meet face-to-face for a kick-off, or to celebrate your team's wins!

  • Utilize team building do activities that involve sharing information about members (e.g., "What makes you feel like your authentic self at work?"), sharing personal interest in the council ("Tell us why you wanted to join the DEI group?"), related previous experiences.

  • Consider using live working time, where multiple team members are working at the same time during a conference call. This ca