Emails were a revolution in communication 20 to 30 years ago, but like everything in technology, time moves on, and if you don’t, you, your business, and your operational structure, will suffer.
There is still a time and a place for emails (just about), especially when communicating with people outside of the business, or in very formal circumstances internally (such as handing out a slap on the wrist). However, especially internally, sending an email should not be the norm. People used to put radium in their drinks in the 1920s as a pick me up, but you don’t keep doing something when you know it’s the wrong thing to do!
Sending an email for something trivial is simply not productive. Senior managers will bemoan that they have 200-odd emails to get through before yours gets seen, and it’s a very dull, easy and common excuse for them to use, so if you’re asking what sandwich they want for lunch, or to give a final sign off for something you’ve already discussed 123 times, it’s nonsensical to communicate this through email.
Furthermore, most companies also have part-time workers, people with flexible hours, and people working from home, or people working internationally. To get a quick response, sending an email is not the sensible thing to do.
Sending a message through a particular platform of course does not mean the recipient will necessarily respond immediately. However, depending on the platform you use, it does mean it should not get lost through the noise, and simple queries or discussions can be sorted there and then.
Here are a few tools you can try that will optimise your internal operations at work.
The connoisseur’s communication tool. Slack is ideal for businesses, small and large. You can make calls, message in group discussions, have one-on-one communications, and send large documents. It also sits neatly optimised for both desktop and phone as a handy application.
It is clean, simple and easy to navigate, with people all over the world using it to communicate.
Like all of these options, you can also mute messages, so if you are fearful this will mean you are effectively on call 24/7, this can be placated.
One potential downside through personal experience is some notifications are clearly highlighted, but others do not pop up automatically, so important correspondence can be missed. However, this can undoubtedly be fixed in the settings for anybody remotely tech savvy.
The major drawback of Hangouts is you must use Chrome. While this should not be an issue, and if you use Google Sheets, Slides and Docs you will use Chrome anyway, getting an entire company to do so can be prohibitive, when there are other perfectly decent browsers out there such as Safari, Firefox (seriously, it’s got good again), or Opera. It is a bit of a monopoly, and although around 63% of the world chooses Chrome as their preferred browser (and analysis shows this will rise, particularly in Africa), the compulsion to use it may not sit well with you.
However, if you do all use Chrome for whatever reason, or you are a prolific user of Google’s services (which most of us are), this is an ideal platform to communicate from. Firstly, your Calendar will be hooked up seamlessly. If you need to make a call, just scheduling it will generate a link for people to join the call, too.
It is perhaps better known for interactive calls to multiple people, but you can also use text and voice chat, and the Hangouts app and browser is an easy and professional way to communicate.
Patrick Hulbert, PR & Communications Manager at the bfa, explains how your business may be seriously hampered by using dated means of internal communication
Workplace by Facebook
The main positive for Workplace by Facebook are that the fundamentals work very much the same as Facebook itself, so for many people, it requires little to no training.
Instead of having ‘1,000 friends’ posting pictures of their children or their insights into Brexit, Workplace by Facebook is a way to put the company in one place, where you can connect in group messages, one-on-one messages, tag people, and post updates, which means it’s a really good tool to find out what the company at large is up to, as well.
The only downside is staff may just use it like Facebook. There will be a moderator at the company, probably working in IT, who will be able to view every single comment, post, and most importantly direct message, so if you do complain about your manager in a message with your closest work colleague, you can expect to find yourself in trouble.
Overall, it’s a thumbs up emoji to Workplace by Facebook.
You have probably not heard of WeChat, but billions of people use the application every single day. Founded by Tencent in 2011 (yes, you’ve probably heard of them, being one of the largest companies on the planet), WeChat is similar to WhatsApp, but fundamentally better to communicate in a work environment.
It’s an application you can use on your phone, a tablet device and, crucially (unlike WhatsApp), a desktop, so it is a little less formal in style to Slack, but has all the necessities you need to communicate effectively both on and off site. You can create groups, do group calls, send large documents and the fact that you can also run this from your desktop means you can use it in the office, working remotely, or on-the-go with your mobile. If you do happen to have colleagues based out of China, it will be your foremost form of communication, so it may be best to bite the bullet early and start using it now. Oh, and it’s completely free.
If your company prides itself of being, say, millennial in focus, relaxed, and so on, this is the platform you seriously want to consider, though it would be wise not to divulge seriously sensitive information on said platform, depending on what you do. Perhaps WeChat won’t catch on in the western world, but if it does, it’s worth getting ahead of the game as Tencent continues to increase its global operations. It may well be soon that if you need to contact people in vast parts of the Far East, WeChat will be necessary.
WeChat is similar in principle to Line, commonly used in Japan, and Telegram, used a lot in Indonesia, and with WeChat you can be particularly creative in your choice of ‘stickers’. It’s perhaps less professional, but it is effective.
Your company should be using any of the above, just NOT emails for regular communication. However, if you do happen to work for a particularly large franchise system and communicate on a global level, ensure the company is only using one of these tools. Use two or three of them can actually have a negative effect, and end up meaning you miss vital messages, something you are wholly trying to eradicate.