We take a look at some common challenges experienced in technology and communication in the modern workplace, with solutions.
The modern workplace is all about communication. Whether it’s the ability to send orders down the chain of command or employee requests right back up it, whether it’s group discussions with coworkers or accurate information about your own employer, communication is absolutely key. It always has been important, but as teams spread further around the world, technology is shrinking that world to make wise communications policies potentially more impactful than ever.
A modern company is an organism, breathing and alive. It has a constant flux of hires and departures and a diverse array of roles and employees, each of which contributes a unique sort of data to the system. Developments at the top of the chain of command need to be communicated and and internalized all the way down, but traditional solutions like email and all-hands meetings have proven either ineffective or annoying in their own right.
A well maintained and engaging company news not only keeps an entire company in sync on the latest developments, but gives employees a chance to aggregate feedback and encourage discussion. Employers can share news, blogs, updates, event invites, goals, holiday schedules, policy changes, and much more, right from a sidebar on the main company website. These posts can be carefully permissioned more securely than email, allowing news to be available to the right individuals and teams. Unlike email, internal blogs allow analytics, so you can see exactly how far your messages are reaching within your organization. You can drill down to more granular information, including user-specific data.
Even small companies can very quickly become so large that employees find it difficult to form meaningful work friendships, and that can impact things like retention or satisfaction. Employees should not not to one another in the mornings, they should energetically restart conversations from interactions the previous day. And with more and more business being done remotely, this should be as true of off-site workers as anyone else.
Message boards serve double-duty as community building tools that help employees form meaningful work relationships, and as useful resources for employees. Workers seeking information can always find a helpful answer either by searching a forum’s history or by asking a new question of their coworkers. It also provides a great venue for management to understand the state of group issues, and to get involved in discussions even if they can’t be physically present for meetings. Forum posts can tackle a wider array of topics and help establish company culture by allowing more free-form discussion.
Employee profiles allow for your staff to explain everything they do (we all know titles barely scratch the surface). But they are also a great platform for your users to let their personality show. At IC, we’ve had contests for the best employee profiles, we summarize our work experience but we also talk about what we like to do outside of work, talk about our families, our career aspirations, and unique skills or interests. It’s especially helpful in larger companies or remote employees to put a human behind a name.
Modern online tools are meant to save time, but email has proven more cumbersome than the phone calls or and physical meetings they were meant to replace. The issue has to do with sluggish response times, but that derives from the nature of email itself; that which allows a reply to move to the bottom of a person’s list of priorities will always lead to delays in receiving that reply. Employees need a way to reach out to one another for the sort of quick, low-impact communication that spoken interaction can achieve in mere seconds, but which has all the online advantages of a digital process.
There are work chat programs out there that let your employees talk quickly both one-on-one and as a team, but live chat is far more effective as a productivity booster when it’s integrated with a company’s other internal digital processes. Live chat within an intranet system can reduce email volume by letting small interactions be what they should be: fast. Real-time chat tends to provoke shorter responses and enable employees with the insight they need, when they need them. Live chat also helps enable employees to work productively while out of the office, whether at home or elsewhere. They simply can’t keep waiting for the beginning of the next business day to receive a perfunctory reply, and with more and more employees working from remote locations it’s increasingly vital for workers to have the right tools as their fingertips.
Large or geographically sprawed operations inevitably end up with employees who never or virtually never meet each other, despite the fact that each could be very helpful to the other’s daily activities. Employees struggle against barriers for which they are not trained, or farm out duties to paid external contractors, when the perfect person could already work in the company.
A well-annotated listing of employees, complete with job title, areas of expertise, interests, and contact info, can let your company take full advantage of every skill-set your workforce has. Another advantage of company and employee listings is that they allow workers to follow changes within their own organization, from departures to promotions and more. This helps with onboarding, and reduces the ‘who should I ask about…’ emails. And when teams can see one another across departments and locations, the aggregate effect is a more involved workforce that is more willing to reach out to one another for help and general team-building.
Modern project management can be a nightmare of competing permissions to view information and a mess of different versions for the project’s most important documents. Ever-changing groups of workers need to collaborate to make progress on increasingly multidisciplinary challenges, and they need to do so without relinquishing any of the security on which they’ve come to rely.
Internal, project-specific web pages that show sensitive client and internal information can be easily shared with only the employees who should see it, so the company can easily work together without fear of breaking confidentiality agreements. Project sites allow increased collaboration within teams, which helps increase efficiency and stops workers from bothering clients with self-same questions. Never wonder about the latest version of a document again — so long as your company makes use of a project site for posting the latest version of all client documents. Staying in sync has never been easier, and with an easy task-tracking app it’s perfect for manager to get a quick, high-level understanding of just where the project is headed.
Ultimately, a strong suite of internal communications tools is the key to a successful modern workplace. With these tools, employees can feel empowered to pursue their goals with all of a company’s resources at their disposal. It can unlock the potential of your workforce, and let your best workers do their best work. Whether it’s a discussion forum or an employee database, it’s communication that lets a modern company function well enough to beat the competition and leave its mark on the world.