There are numerous ways for people to interact and communicate to each other these days! People are used to certain habits regarding when to use what! For example, in our private life we have a set of ways and tools for each given situation. It’s not something we were taught from somebody but rather something we learnt along the way during the technical evolution. And we don’t even think much about when to use what, while we are doing it!
When you need to talk to your family members or close friends you often call them on the phone. If it’s nothing urgent or important, or with not so close friends, some form of instant messaging is often used. When we just want news about people we care for or have interest in, we use some sort of social media platform to keep track of what’s happening.
For all this, we have many different tools to choose from, and the decision lands in whichever service we find the best, easiest and what people around ourselves are using.
Old habits never die – but we must keep trying
Now, if we switch context to our ways of communicating with our colleagues at work, it looks a bit different. The transformation to a modern workplace is reaching more and more businesses and organizations but the most common tool of communication out there is still mail and a company intranet. The reasons for this are quite simple. These has been around for long and everyone knows how they work.
It might also be that we have an idea of that everything that has do with work must be formal! This is however not true. Most internal communication we are doing at work is something that could be done much faster and more efficient with IM services and other kinds of solutions, rather than with mail.
Intranets are still valuable, but communication wise, they are lacking. If you need to put something out there for everyone to see, they are enough. But it often ends there because intranets aren’t built for communication the other way. Feedback, questions and discussions about the topic has nowhere to go, and often ends up with mail threads instead. Not that great!
Think about if we would start sending email to our spouses, children and friends about daily stuff. If I sent an email to my wife, asking her to buy bread on her way home from work, we would probably not have any bread today but tomorrow earliest. It’s a drastic example as we tend to keep up with mail as much as possible at work, but the key points are the same. If we get our messages and responses through faster with less fuss, we accomplish things more efficient, sooner and save yourself time.
Leave me alone…
Keeping up with email can be a daunting task sometimes! While some read all their mails daily, they rarely read them within the timeframe some mails would require or benefit from! This might result in someone or something will be on hold until a response is given.
The reason keeping up is hard is that we get loads of them. We spend time sorting out important emails with less important ones or it’s just plain spam and advertising emails. What about all those CC’s we get, just because? The answer is that if we don’t get them, we would never know about them in case we maybe need to later.
Long email threads are horrific both regarding the number of emails sent out and to keep track of who received it! What if someone missed that “reply to all” button or vice versa, accidentally pressed that button when not to? We’ve all been there, missing out information or receiving too much of it!
When it comes to searchability, finding information in a long mail thread can be a hard task! This is especially true when someone new, not previously engaged in the thread, needs information contained within it!
The modern workplace
Modern tools of communication such as collaborate spaces and social platforms for work would be much more beneficial for organizations regarding efficient communication. This would help to have structured conversations, to keep track of information and make it possible to go get the information you need easily, instead of get everything thrown into your inbox. If someone needs information, there is one “go-to place” and it’s all there! Also connecting with co-workers in a common social platform will help spread knowledge within the organization, create engagement and grow a richer company culture. Emails and old-fashioned intranets are not the best choice here.
I believe many organizations should ask themselves how they communicate today, and how they could benefit from using modern tools and services. Not from the perspective of features and the technology itself, but from how they could make communication better, more efficient and not least, fun!