How businesses can improve working relationships virtually

A senior Psychology lecturer has joined a network of European researchers to challenge businesses to adopt a stronger virtual work approach. The group will highlight the benefits and most effective ways for staff to work together virtually, creating better relationships in workplaces.

Posted: 29 May 2015

image for news story How businesses can improve working relationships virtually
Dr Karin Moser

Managers today need to understand the psychology of virtual collaboration, how people cope with the new challenges of modern communication methods in the workplace, and the loss of direct contact in many of their work relationships. Social and organisational psychologist Dr Karin Moser specialises in how people can get the most from electronic communication in the workplace, without losing the personable aspect of collaboration.

Dr Moser, Senior Lecturer at the University of Roehampton said: “Trust is key in any collaboration, whether virtual or face-to-face, but it is more difficult to develop a sense of trust in an entirely virtual context which has fewer social cues. Occasional and well planned face-to-face meetings can contribute greatly to building trust and developing a shared understanding of goals, on which further electronic cooperation can then be built.”

Here are some key recommendations from Dr Moser about how businesses and individuals can maximise virtual communication in the workplace:

  • Set minimal rules for email etiquette to enhance trust such as: a) always confirm receipt of messages and b) always use a proper address and greeting in each message.
  • Always communicate when in doubt. If unsure about timelines, agreements, division of tasks etc., always write an email to confirm. You need to compensate for the lack of those informal contact opportunities with additional electronic communication.
  • Make special efforts for transparency because in a virtual context, trust can only develop if you reduce uncertainty. 
  • Don't underestimate the power of ‘small things’ such as email etiquette.

These tips are taken from Dr Moser's award winning article published by the Chartered Management Institute UK - read the full Paper.


Dr Moser was recently invited to be a member of the EU funded group: COST Action ‘Dynamics of Virtual Work’ , a consortium of European researchers in the area of virtual work. Through conferences and publications they influence policy decisions about new forms of working in the EU member states, and the management and organisation of virtual work and work-life-balance. The consortium of working groups started in 2014 and will continue until the end of 2016.

At the University of Roehampton Dr Moser brings a wealth of expertise to her students in the areas of team work, information-sharing and knowledge management, virtual collaboration and communication. Her recent research projects have focused on on motivational processes in information-sharing, rewards and incentives for pro-social behaviour, and the effects of status and cultural differences in online collaborations.

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