Even when practically the entire workforce lived a 9-5 lifestyle, internal communication was a challenge to all but the smallest businesses. Every business has to deal with long, complex email chains, miscommunication with clients and the tedium of meetings that extend well past their allotted timeslot. Now that the workforce increasingly operates away from the office, communication has become even more important. Thankfully, technology has developed too. Small businesses, multinational companies and charities can all take advantage of cloud services such as Google Apps for Work, alongside social business software such as Jive and Trello. To improve internal communications within a distance working environment, collaborative software will prove most effective alongside small changes to procedure and company culture. We examine how you can gain the most value from communication in your business, and eliminate those seemingly unnecessary meetings.
Make meetings valuable
If your team contains a high proportion of home workers, you’ll still need to keep them up-to-date with the goings on at the business and how they affect their work. Regular meetings ensure that entire teams remain appraised of key information, relevant changes and new company procedures. Distance workers should either be invited to come to the office to join these meetings where possible, or alternatively, regular video conferences should take place through Skype or Google Hangouts. Detailed agendas should be set prior to the meeting, and posted where everyone can see them. In addition, the list of attendees should be carefully considered – is it a waste of the employee’s time to attend this meeting? Would they be better off doing something else? Most of all, it is important not to exclude distance workers from these meetings. Google Hangouts and Skype make it incredibly easy for remote workers to be included.
Use the right communication channel
There’s always someone in the office who will insist on calling you to clarify one small matter when a simple instant message would have done the job. Similarly, there will be some employees who insist on adding a reply to a long, complex email chain that first started weeks ago. Where you only require a short snippet of information that you won’t need to refer back to in the future, use instant messages.
Keep email chains as short as possible, and only reply to participants who really need to see them. Consider using a business social software tool, instead of email, for complex discussions. This will make the discussion much easier to follow and cut down on the number of emails clogging up everyone’s inbox.
If your company uses a social intranet, encourage employees to post progress of their latest work – including details of what they found challenging. To get the most value out of internal communication, it must be carried out in the right manner – and through the right channels.
Working out loud
Using Google Apps for business or cloud-based software such as Office 365, companies can access and edit documents from any device, and multiple users can work on a single document simultaneously. Users can also ‘chat’ from within the document, allowing for easy collaboration even when the users are located thousands of miles apart. By being able to track changes to documents as they occur, all staff members are able to determine whether plans are being put into action and where additional assistance is required to implement strategies.
Want to learn more about how Google Apps for business can benefit your company? Contact Work Out Loud.
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