Poor communication is the scourge of many workplaces. In fact, according to David Grossman’s report “The Cost of Poor Communications” inadequate communication costs companies with 100,000 or more employees $62 million per year, while companies with 100 or less staffers are losing out on average $420,000 per year. Cumulatively, communication barriers lead to $26,041 in productivity loses per employee. Yet while ineffective communication plagues companies big and small, many continue to rely on Skype, email, and other tools that simply aren’t up to task.
More and more communication is digital and it’s hard to overestimate its importance or prevalence of electronic communication. Consider that the average office worker receives over 120 business emails and sends roughly 40 emails per day. While email is a powerful tool, it can be clunky, slow, and disorganised. Unsurprisingly, Carleton University researchers found out that people spent roughly 17 hours per week reading work emails in the office and at home!
By using communications tools designed specifically for business, companies will be able to increase productivity and ultimately profitability. Three of the most popular business communication tools include instant messaging programs, workgroups, and internal social media networks. Each offers its own unique advantages and drawbacks, depending on the company and situation.
Let’s examine these three tools to see where they excel and where they fall short.
Group Chat Programs Are Great for Small Teams
For smaller companies, with say 9 to 12 staff members, simple group chat software is often enough. IM tools allow for always-on capabilities and instant communication. Compared to email, instant messaging is faster and promotes more collaboration.
Whereas email facilitates the exchange of information, instant messaging encourages real-time dialogue. IM platforms also encourage people to share their availability and status. Further, compared to traditional communication, IM makes it easy to quickly ask questions, which is vital for people working interdependently on projects.
However, simple group chat programs can be ineffective for larger organizations. The chat threads grow too numerous and disorganized for people to follow. Discussions get noisy/off topic, important information is buried, and as a result, employees start to tune out. In a worst-case scenario chat programs can be detrimental, actually slowing down communication.
Fortunately, you can organize internal communication by using workgroups or by setting up an internal social media network. Let’s examine both.
Setting Up Workgroups to Coordinate Teams and Projects
Workgroups unite specified users into virtual communities based on teams, projects, or other criteria. They often work best for medium-sized businesses or larger businesses that consist of tight-knit teams or center around specific projects. Small teams that aspire to be highly-organized can also benefit.
Group chat platforms have been found to solidify formal, working relationships, allowing managers to keep employees on task, to know who’s at work, and to create a healthy distance between managers and employees. Workgroups improve upon this, allowing for more granular organization and control.
Let’s consider an example. Say an advertising agency has various teams working on different tasks. One team does web development, another team takes care of inbound content, while another is doing commercials and video, etc. Each team will need to coordinate internally to complete projects.
At any given time, multiple teams could also be working together on the same project, say building an advertising campaign for a client. Organizing communication at both the team and project level can be difficult with a simple chat program. However, setting up workgroups for both for specific teams (i.e. web development) and specific projects would enable effective communication at both levels.
Still, while workgroups excel in these situations, they may fall short elsewhere. For example, workgroups may not be flexible or dynamic enough for some companies where sporadic and spontaneous communication is the norm.
Sometimes an Internal Social Network is Needed
Workgroups work best with tight-knit teams or focused projects. However, many businesses operate in more dynamic, fluid environments. Say John on the sales team needs to communicate with Jana over in marketing right now, and later he has to liaise with Tom in accounting. Meanwhile, Jana and Tom each have numerous people they need to communicate with. Tomorrow, it’ll be a whole new set of people.
In the past, email was probably the most common tool for such random communication. However, inboxes can get cluttered, email systems can be clunky, and as a result, email is often time consuming. In fact, McKinsey has found that employees waste as much as 20% of their workweek searching for internal information and tracking down employees via email.
An internal social media network, however, enables quick, flexible and targeted communication organized by contacts and other criteria. Indeed, McKinsey found that by using social media internally, companies can reduce time spent searching for internal information by as much as 35%. As a result, employees can focus on their work, not managing their inbox.
Focus On Your Organization’s Needs When Selecting Communication Tools
Organizing your internal communications is a must. Markets are increasingly competitive and companies that don’t stay ahead risk falling behind. Remember, businesses are already losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, due to poor communication. By improving communications, companies can increase productivity and thus market competitiveness.
There’s no one right approach to organizing internal communications. However, there is a one-size-fits-all solution: Bitrix24. Rather than limiting ourselves to a few tools, we offer a complete portfolio. With Bitrix24, you can stick to instant chat and email, or you can create workgroups or even an internal social media network. Bitrix24 also offers a plethora of other tools, such as document management and powerful calendar.
We’re not here to limit your choices, but instead to increase them. Each company has its own unique needs. That’s why we empower companies to craft their own internal communications strategy with as many tools at their disposal as possible.
Bitrix24 is a free online project management solution with unlimited projects, tasks and subtasks. It comes with time tracking, Gantt chart, document management and real time communication tools, such as group chat and video conferencing. Use promo code TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.