If you are still using email or the speakerphone at work to communicate with your coworkers or employees, it’s time to change. In fact, if you're not taking advantage of the multitude of technology tools and platforms designed to improve workplace communication and collaboration in real-time, neither you nor your employees are working as efficiently and smartly as you could. Need reasons to consider an upgrade? Read on.
Email Needs to be Ditched
1. Waiting (and waiting) for an email response. If you have a project that is time sensitive, waiting on email responses doesn’t serve your company well. Whether it’s feedback or trying to set up a meeting that fits in everyone's schedule, the slow back and forth of email can stifle your progress and keep your head spinning while sorting through the email trail of messages. On the other hand, instant messaging and/or real-time meeting schedulers can get everyone on the same page quickly.
2. Employees feeling out of the loop. It's tough to share ideas or stay in-the-know about what's going on in other departments when communication is limited to the occasional staff meeting. Add to that employees who might not feel comfortable speaking up or were left off the email trail, and you are left with a corporate culture that isn’t ideal, fostering or nurturing. A messaging platform can give everyone a voice and create a conversation thread to refer to as needed.
3. Employees tune out. It's hard to stay motivated when your inbox is inundated with "reply all" email chains that don't pertain to you or your to-do list items. Interoffice communications apps can be used to make company announcements, give kudos to staffers who've gone above and beyond or reached a milestone, and share best practices. This is especially ideal for remote team members.
Choosing the Right Communication Tools for Your Team
When you are choosing the right communication tools for your team, look for solutions that offer seamless interconnectivity between the core tools that employees need, and that fuel content and production-based activities, says Dan Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and workplace trends expert. Ideally, adding a new technology platform should simplify the way everyone works. Some of the features a good productivity tool may include are chat rooms, group/private messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, and mobile connectivity.
Most Popular Communication Platforms
Workplace by Facebook Pretty much everyone is familiar with the Facebook newsfeed and messaging format, so why not apply that to your workplace communications? You can set up a Work Chat that uses messaging, voice, or video, as well as keep the team up to date with news and happenings.
Hashtags for Twitter
For enterprise companies with offices around the country and the world, using Twitter hashtags can give staff members a chance to contribute to the company culture. As Hubspot points out, Zappos is one brand that has had great success promoting company culture via hashtags like #InsideZappos, and a bi-weekly Twitter chat. Make sure your employees know the hashtags to use and follow those feeds. In fact, get them to join in the discussion by asking them to contribute their own hashtags and choose different ones monthly.
Although Google has done away with the popular GChat, Google Hangouts makes it just as easy to communicate one-on-one or with larger groups via messaging, voice, or video.
Evangelists of this messaging platform say the tool epitomizes the company’s tagline, "where work happens," because it's so easy to learn, and it integrates well with other popular office tools. File transfer is instant, as is the feedback you'll get from your connected colleagues.
Similar in nature to Slack, HipChat allows you to build rooms for each of your functional teams, start up a private message, as well as use screen sharing.
Part project management platform, part messaging app, Basecamp is all about sharing documents and staying in the loop about project statuses.
Creating an active company LinkedIn Group is another way to foster a culture where everyone's input is valued. Giving workers a forum to make suggestions and connect with each other illustrates the company's commitment to employee satisfaction.
Time to Communicate
The appealing thing about the tools above and others like it is that each one's navigation and functionality is in line with what most office dwellers are already familiar with. What's more is you can almost always try out free versions or trials of the platforms before you delve into paid premium features.
Once you find a platform that seems like a good fit, try it out first among a few employees or one department, then let it grow organically by offering training sessions or how-to videos/slideshows to get more people on board.
Once everyone is communicating in these new ways, you'll wonder how you ever got anything done in the old email world.