Choosing the Correct Communication Tool at Work
Often, the amount of conversations happening simultaneously across different mediums can make it difficult to execute simple tasks, stay focused during meetings, and process information. At any given time, employees at your organization are being bombarded with emails, text messages, phone calls, internal messaging apps, and more. Employees can often feel overwhelmed by the information overload caused by an always-connected workplace. Important or time sensitive communications can be lost in the noise of everyday chatter. Educating your entire workforce on choosing the correct communication tool can be critical to ensuring successful and efficient information transfer and collaboration.
Below are some of the most common workplace examples of how and when to use the correct communication tool at work:
Email offers a quick delivery with minimal interruption into an employee’s daily life. They can access their email and read it as they have time. Email also allows you to share the same information with multiple people simultaneously. This is a good channel for sharing links, documentation, and reports. It is also helpful for use when you need a record of having sent materials at a certain date and time. On the other hand, email is not always a secure channel, so it should be avoided for sharing confidential information. Additionally, a cluttered inbox can often result in information overload or missed messages. Email is not a good channel for collaboration or long, back-and-forth conversations.
Internal messaging apps, like Slack or HipChat, have grown in popularity for streamlining communication within the office. This type of communication tool is great for quickly and easily sending brief messages and updates to coworkers. These apps often support sharing links, documents, and pictures as well, providing a quicker alternative than email if you want to ensure the message is read in real time. Alternatively, however, real-time communication and constant “pings” from an internal messaging app can be incredibly distracting, often causing employees to deviate from their current task to respond, disrupting their productivity. This channel should not be used for a full conversation, especially if the alternative is simply walking to another coworker’s desk or department.
Executives and other managers often need to share important updates and information with the entire organization. Very rarely do organizations have a shared platform that all employees have access to. However, some tools do exist that enable company-wide collaboration by providing an information hub, or Company News page, that acts as an electronic newsboard.
In-person meetings have always been a great way to have meaningful and collaborative conversations with one or more team members. Recently, however, meetings have become notorious for being too long, and decreasing productivity throughout the office. These days, people are attending meetings without really being “present” because they are still connected to their smart phones and laptops. In order for in-person meetings to be beneficial, practice keeping them to 30 minutes or less and restricting the use of unnecessary devices or simultaneous communications.
A simple phone call is often overlooked with so many other communication options that might be a bit faster. However, phone calls are often necessary to clarify information sent via another tool or to follow up on an ongoing initiative or conversation. Oftentimes, taking a few minutes out of your day to make a phone call can eliminate numerous back and forth emails for the next week. One drawback to a phone call, given all other communication methods, is that it is often unannounced and you will likely be disrupting someone from their current task, which is something to acknowledge while on the call.
As technology continues to become an integral part of the business environment, our options for communicating within the workplace continue to grow. It is important to recognize the distractions that multiple methods of communication can cause and be proactive about educating your workforce to choose the correct communication tool. This will help employees feel less stressed and more engaged, leading to an increase in overall productivity.