Companies spend millions on safe and secure internal communications systems however they still fall short of capturing everyone’s attention. We’re all familiar with traditional methods of organizational communications, things like email blasts, office meetings, IM and Sharepoint.
Those methods work very well for employees with easy access to a computer or who work in the same physical location; but that world of work is rapidly changing. More and more employees telecommute, others are in the field and as the case with many newer companies, there is no “home office” or headquarters.
Conference calls, emails, meetings and Sharepoint have been around since the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and although they are tried and true, they are also outdated.
I decided to investigate corporate communications for this month’s PIC Reports series.
How are companies using current technology to change the way they communicate with employees?
Video Killed The Traditional Communication Star
The easiest (and probably cheapest) method is to enhance the “old’ way of doing things. Instead of the usual conference call, companies are conducting video calls. Using Skype, Google Hangout or even Facetime is an inexpensive way to communicate with everyone and it’s more interactive and offers fewer distractions.
Another member of the PIC team, Dave Ryan, spoke with me about using a texting service to communicate to his employees when the office is closed, or overtime is available and any number of other company “memos”. Based on your state, you may need to get employee approval to communicate on an employee’s device, but that is a small inconvenience to have the ability to easily communicate with your employees. More and more companies are texting employees through group text.
Communicating big changes and office closures are important but it doesn’t necessarily solve for the problem of driving better collaboration and communication.
Now enters social media.
“Social” has gone professional with messaging services like Slack, HipChat and even Snapchat. These services are helping teams to quickly collaborate regardless of their physical location. With an app on their phone or computer, employees can quickly chat with each other and share files through common services like Dropbox or Google’s Drive.
Let’s not forget our old friend, FACEBOOK. The social media site has developed Facebook for Business; since most of your employees are probably on Facebook all day, you might as well have a corporate function which allows for secure internal communication with chat functions, alerts, and notifications.
The promise of this technology is getting rid of or greatly reducing email. Imagine a world where you don’t have to check email? Or a world where the 2.6 hours a day you spend on email is greatly reduced because you send simple messages to people over a program like Slack? Or you send some quick snaps (SnapChat) in the morning to set the team agenda for the day?
Of course there are downsides to these services as well and many will be quick to point out the negative:
- How do you get any work done when people are “chatting” all day? It can be difficult to “catch-up” on a chat if you miss an hour or two, much less a day. For some companies, Slack has become just as overwhelming as email. Answer: the same way you get work done now, put your phone on silent, put the “do not disturb” sign up, whatever you need to do.
- People like the traditional methods of communication of email and conference calls. Not everyone will love the idea of a video chat replacing the weekly conference call because now they have to put on makeup and wear something besides pajama’s. People may not want to change their default communication styles (you know there are people who just love to craft a 3 paragraph email).
- Dealing with the un-professional. Un-professional posts are quickly becoming the downfall of LinkedIn and many people site that as a reason to stick with the tried and true methods of email and phone calls. How do you handle that? The same way you handle any other inappropriate or un-professional behavior at the company.
If messaging apps aren’t your specialty, companies are also using these services to drive collaboration, crowd sourcing and communication within organizations:
- Employee-only LinkedIn or Facebook groups
- Crowdsourced feedback tools, such as PopIn
- Company websites, blogs, talent forums, and comment sections
There are more mobile devices in the world than desktops – it’s a mobile society and traditional methods of communications like conference calls, meetings and emails are much more difficult to manage on the go, not to mention boring. Each of the traditional methods of communications have been linked to poor productivity and wasting time. Everyone uses their smartphone or mobile device to manage their daily lives so corporations have to leverage technology to develop news ways to communicate. Think of like social media, there is always a new platform that basically does the same thing; allow us to connect and share, however each platform reaches a different audience and has its own set of advantages.
Effective communicators use all forms of media to reach their audience.
Let me know what you think? Tell me what are you using to drive communication and collaboration throughout your organization?