Good workplace communication is essential to the success of any business. As communication platforms become increasingly sophisticated, and workstyles and locations shift, the question of how to best communicate with your team becomes more and more important.
Most small and medium businesses (SMBs) are already using several cloud-based solutions to improve communication and collaboration. But in a world where the hybrid workplace is often the norm, and with communication solutions evolving at a breakneck pace, it can be difficult to keep up with changing trends and dynamics.
Furthermore, many businesses may not be communicating as well as they think they are: This State of Business Communication survey reveals that business leaders estimate their teams lose an average of 7.47 hours per week—almost one full workday—due to poor communication.
With that in mind, here are some key considerations and tools to keep top of mind to improve workplace communication in 2022.
Prioritize clear and effective communications
We all know that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. But sometimes we need help to communicate more effectively. Provide employees with guidance and coaching to help them to communicate more clearly, strike the right tone, and share information without confusing or alienating the people they’re communicating with.
Consider creating guidelines to help shape the communication culture in your business. For instance, when should cameras be on or off in web conferencing meetings? When should people use real-time communications tools, such as Slack, versus asynchronous ones, such as email or text messaging? What’s the policy for sending messages after regular work hours?
Conduct regular 1-1 meetings
Are you touching base with your employees regularly, and often enough to build relationships and reinforce workplace culture? 1-1 meetings are one of the most popular and beneficial ways of communicating with your staff to provide meaningful guidance around goals, get insights into an employee’s performance, and nurture relationships.
Conducting regular meetings—whether employees are in the office or working remotely–is key to keeping the lines of communications open, and boosting engagement and productivity.
While video conferencing solutions can be a plus for some remote 1-1 meetings, remember that cameras don’t always need to be on. Depending on the person and the nature of the meeting, turning the cameras off—or simply scheduling a phone call—may feel more comfortable and natural.
Build cross-departmental relationships
Relationships are key to improving workplace communication and it’s never been more important to build ones that span different departments.
No one department works in isolation, and ensuring that employees have the chance to build relationships with people in other departments will encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing, which can only be a benefit to your business.
As technology continues to pervade our lives and we expect more from our workplaces, there will be an increasing demand for enhanced communication that fosters teamwork, sharing of ideas, and effective coordination.
Build cross-departmental relationships as early as possible and make sure all departments are working together.
Engaging in face-to-face conversations is essential to help people that don’t necessarily interact on a day-to-day basis get to know one another. If some (or all) employees work virtually, or in different company locations, video conferencing capabilities are a must. Try using a service like Zoom, Zoho Meeting, Google Meet, or one of the many other web and video conferencing services to help teams in different locations keep in touch.
Use cloud-based document sharing and collaboration technologies
Cloud-based document sharing and collaboration systems like Google Docs, Dropbox, Skype and Zoho Workdrive are rapidly becoming the tools of choice for people who need to share information with colleagues.
They’re free and/or low-cost, and easy for just about anyone to use; all you need is an internet connection.
The workplace communication scene of the future will almost certainly be cloud-based, there simply won’t be any other choice in a world where many employees work from home at least part of the time.
Why? Because these cloud-based systems help people organize information in a central location, ensuring that everyone can access files and documents they need anytime, from anywhere.
Consider deploying an instant messaging system
Workplace communication tools such as Slack or Zoho Cliq can serve as an organized chat room for your company. These solutions enable you to create shared workspaces to organize communications and file sharing for real-time group discussions (you can also use them for private 1-1 conversations). This gives everyone access to the same, searchable information. These solutions (and other similar offerings) also offer pre-built integrations to other apps, so you can create workflows to automate different activities. Some businesses use these solutions to augment email, while others replace email with them.
Digitize your phone systems with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which is a way to place and receive phone calls over the internet instead of with traditional wired telephone connections. It’s commonly used to communicate over corporate networks and can be implemented via the cloud or via local servers, depending on your business needs.
Some might think that switching to VoIP means giving up on old-fashioned phone call quality, but VoIP typically provides better voice and call quality than landlines. It’s also generally cheaper and more scalable than traditional wired services, and offers advanced features, such as call routing, auto-attendant, business text messaging, call analytics, and more. Plus, having everyone on the same platform makes it easier for employees to share information with one another.
There are hundreds of VoIP providers, and many cater to small and medium businesses. One caveat to keep in mind, however: VoIP requires a strong, uninterrupted Internet connection to avoid latency and “jitter,” and may necessitate an upgrade to increase Internet speeds.
Businesses that prioritize effective workplace communications practices, and take advantage of technology solutions that can help facilitate them, can reap big benefits. With an intentional strategy and the right tools, businesses can:
- Build the social interactions that make employees feel engaged.
- Effectively communicate company culture, mission, and goals.
- Improve employee productivity.
Regularly take the time to find out where the gaps are in your communications process, and fill them in with guidance, coaching, and tools that can help close them to improve communications in your company.
© SMB Group, 2022