Communication channels are key components of any modern workplace. Maximizing the use of those channels benefits both employees and businesses. By reviewing the existing channels currently in use, or considering other options, it is possible to improve the impact they have within workplaces.
What are communication channels?
There are many forms, but essentially it’s how we have a conversation. Emails, phone calls, video conferencing, face-to-face, the list goes on. Communication channels have always been vital to how a business operates. They provide a tool for sharing information and working collaboratively across a whole business.
The importance of effective communication channels has increased greatly since the beginning of the pandemic. At only 24% before the pandemic, the amount of people working remotely has increased to 57%. Businesses need to be able to make contact immediately and effectively, wherever their employees may be.
The way we communicate in business has changed dramatically in recent years. Companies now have a lot of options when it comes to how staff shares and develops ideas.
We need to stay connected. So what channels exist? And how can we make the most of them?
In this article, we will explore eight great workplace communication channels and how to maximize them.
1. Face to Face
Face-to-face interaction is often seen as one of the most enriching forms of communication. It offers opportunities to address issues immediately within teams and can be a great platform to generate ideas. Informal conversations at desks, your cash flow projection for the year, or formal meetings are all important within business. These happen often, so how can they be maximized?
Two-thirds of people claim they often waste time in meetings, so here are a few ways to make sure time spent in person is valuable and effective –
- Get input from the whole team. Giving voices to all employees improves inclusion and can help generate solutions to issues;
- Discuss topics that include everyone. Conversations which are irrelevant can be monotonous for those who aren’t involved, so make them important to everyone;
- Provide a clear structure to those who are attending. Creating an agenda provides clarity and consistency and increases engagement;
- Preparation from senior staff is vital and ensures the facilitation of positive, solution-based discussions;
- Regularity. Choose a time that is the least detrimental to everybody. Interrupting workflow with poorly timed meetings can cause a big reduction in productivity, so get your timing right.
2. Video Conferencing
The impacts of developing technology on business have been clear. Many are now opting to use video conferencing software for remote sales team management and to discuss the workflow templates that they need to present to their clients.
During just a week in March 2020, conferencing apps were downloaded 62 million times.
They allow people to stay connected and provide a platform for sharing ideas and conversations instantly. Many programs provide screen sharing and whiteboard technology to add extra depth.
Much like face-to-face meetings, video conferencing works well when it is planned. Considering the details; how you are going to engage staff and any tech malfunctions with your omnichannel contact center or any other platforms that you use that you may experience will make the process a lot more effective.
Invites are often sent through email and can sometimes get missed. Make sure staff are given ample reminders and notifications on the date and time of the meeting.
After the meeting, make sure you follow up with your staff. Ask them for feedback on whether they enjoyed the experience or what could be done differently next time.
3. Employee Applications and Software
Many businesses are opting for programs that allow managers and staff to view their information in one place. Kanban board is one example. It connects the business to employees and benefits effective communication and processes in the workplace.
Internal communications are vital. Finding the right application for your business creates a single channel that builds key connections between business and employee. Training staff to use the apps can be time-consuming but it is important that all staff have the knowledge to use the software effectively.
The amount of options available is staggering. Business applications made up a huge 10.11% of all downloads from the Apple App Store in 2021. Sifting through and choosing an app that fits your business needs is key. Reviewing the software and engagement consistently helps track useability and whether it is fit for purpose.
Emails are still the most popular tool for communication in offices. They also often remain the most effective method of contact with clients. They are cost-effective and can improve communication internally and externally.
Across all industries, an average of 19.8% of emails are opened. A typical worker receives around 120 emails per day. Not all of those will be important, but it still takes time and management to make sure nothing goes amiss. Checking your emails repeatedly can reduce productivity.
Ensuring that employees are committed to sending fewer, more concise emails is not only beneficial to businesses, but to themselves. Workplaces need to focus on training staff to include the most relevant information in their emails to prevent inbox overload and improve productivity.
5. Phone Calls
Phone calls are still very effective when we want to get our message across quickly and clearly. There is no need for Wi-Fi and people can answer the phone almost anywhere.
We’ve all been there; an employee is sick or has a family emergency, and a quick message needs to be passed on. So we pick up the phone, dial the number, and in a minute or so the conversation is done. No back and forward emails or waiting for a response. Done.
Using phone calls with self-service automation and other communication channels increases employees’ ability to communicate quickly and effectively. Phone calls allow for small amounts of information to be delivered quickly or vice versa and there is no need for a webcam or microphone.
If your phone calls often take a more informal turn, which happens to us all, simply considering the purpose before it takes place or creating an agenda helps to keep it relevant.
Sharing expectations and resources with employees who call external clients and customers keep the conversation direct, professional, and purposeful.
6. Employee Newsletters
Producing newsletters can be extremely beneficial when it comes to external content marketing.
However, internally they can be a very effective and popular communication channel, too. According to Gallup, around 74% of employees feel they miss out on important company information. Well-planned and thought-through newsletters can address this issue.
They can be used for almost any business information need, for example –
- Staff bulletins;
- Events or initiatives within the business;
- Introducing new employees;
- Sharing information about relevant consumer decisions;
- Giving messages from the CEO or manager.
Employees feel good when included in a newsletter. It declutters inboxes, compiling a lot of information into one place, and can be accessed by everybody.
When creating newsletters, make them interactive by including videos and images. Also, signposting to staff events and highlighting relevant information is key. Newsletters are often sent through email so they need to be targeted and thought about so they engage staff (and get opened!)
7. Social Media
Social media is here to stay, and if managed in the right way it can be a great method for teams to communicate. It can connect employees across different branches and locations. It also provides opportunities for staff to share ideas and network internally in a less formal way.
LinkedIn now has over 740 million users in over 200 countries and is becoming vital for internal communications.
For businesses, it can be a good chance to improve brand identity and share positive content with many employees at the same time.
However, some businesses blame social media for a reduction in productivity in the workplace. Furthermore, businesses may open themselves up to more criticism if they exist on social media.
Promoting social media use in the office can be risky. With the right management and monitoring, though, it can be a great tool for promoting effective communication.
In recent years, podcasts have become increasingly popular. In 2020 there were around 79.5 million listeners in the United States. 48% of adults and young people aged 12-34 listened to podcasts in 2021, which increased from 37% in 2020.
The buzz is also being felt in the business world. Entrepreneurs, new businesses, and established brands are turning to podcasts to benefit growth and open discussions. They can be used to highlight important information or share company initiatives and ideas for direction.
They are also very customizable. CEOs can discuss their ideas and journey to inspire employees. Senior staff is able to respond to employee feedback or comment on important issues within the workplace. Employees can get invited on in order to voice concerns or positive aspects of their job.
To maximize the use of podcasts for communication in the workplace it’s important that employees are aware of the release schedule. Sending staff notifications via a company app, or including information in the employee newsletter will help to get people listening.
Consistency and relevancy are key to producing an engaging podcast, so make sure the material is beneficial to business and relates to employees.
Having effective communication channels within your business helps to facilitate positive discussions. When teams work collaboratively they generate more ideas and are happier.
Providing your business with an online team communication tool for facilitating clear, easy-to-manage contact channels is the ultimate goal. By following this advice on how to maximize communication channels, you can improve productivity and employee engagement in the workplace.
Finding the right tools, planning meetings, streamlining how staff communicate, and providing engaging training on new company initiatives have a positive impact on how employees collaborate and converse inside and outside of the workplace.