While "open communication" is often a key tenet spouted by business gurus (usually while waffling on about optimising your business over limp sandwiches at a dry Digital Marketing conference- that’s right, we said it) implementing a good communication system can be both super important - as well as a bit more complicated than that.
Clear communication in a team and across departments is vital to the success of a business. Sure, sometimes a brief email, a quick Slack or speedy desk-to-desk conversation will do, but at other times, you need more.
Communication has become especially difficult with people working from home. With most of us now working from home offices, kitchen tables, or at beloved Ikea desks - a face-to-face just isn’t as easy as just walking over to someone’s desk. Zoom meetings need to be booked during working days with no separation from screen-time to brainstorming sessions, all the while fending off dodgy Wi-Fi, needy pets or busy toddlers intent on pulling out your laptop charger!
Simply put, this environment can make communication feel almost impossible right now, as the process of holding a simple conversation can feel like wading through mud. While there is no quick-fix solution, there are tools that can be used to make communication easier, whether it's complicated ideas or an urgent tete-a-tete.
Face to Face (Or Zoom!)
The first tip is a bit of an obvious one - when explaining a quick job or something urgent it is always best to do so face-to-face (so, in 2020 that means the best digital alternative!). Communicating across email can be slow, getting you lost in endless Gmail email threads and causing further confusion and delays. Whereas before we’d simply talk to someone by walking to their desk (or, let’s be honest, shouting, if it’s a small office) we recommend just popping in a quick video call, Slack call or even FaceTime. Direct, open communication saves huge amounts of time in the long run and keeps a project moving (as well as giving us some much-needed social interactions).
With people working from home, video conference systems have become essential in day-to-day operations for many companies - and while they can’t replace a normal conversation, it's the best you can get.
A quick, face-to-screen conversation can provide much-needed context, and ensure that everyone understands what needs to be done - where emails often leave blanks that need to be filled in.
Cloud storage is an amazing way to instantly share information, providing your team with the ability to pass information seamlessly. Clear communication in an office is no longer just about conversations and emails; it's about access, making sure the right team members have access to the right documents. This open and clear communication means that every team member who needs to has their eyes on different parts of projects, allowing them to see what work has been done, what needs doing, where they come in, and anything else they want to know.
Of course, access with context can be slightly daunting at times, especially when people work so differently from each other. Getting dropped into a complex excel spreadsheet without any context for all the different tabs and what each cell represents can cause nightmares (believe me!) Cloud storage provides people with a collaborative workspace no matter where they are, in-office or at home, they can share information and even leave annotations for each other. Allowing clear communication throughout the process of a project or job - what could be easier?
Beyond simply cloud storage is a CRM; a tool that many businesses find essential. A CRM or customer relationship management system allows for different teams to access company-wide data about clients, allowing seamless collaboration between each department with insight across the customer journey from beginning to end. A CRM allows your teams to communicate their goals and what they need from different departments - without ever having to leave their desk. (Handy!)
Of course, these digital solutions are a part of clear communication across the office and having those all-important meetings are still the best way to start a process. What cloud storage and CRMs provide is the ability to stay focused, striving toward the same goals, without constant meetings for updates or emails firing back and forth waiting for replies and reviews. Instead, all of this can be handled with the tools themselves.
Another important technology in the modern age of communication is the advent of the job board. Whether you’re using Monday, Asana, Paymo or one of the frankly thousands of other job boards out there, this process is being slowly introduced into most businesses. Like many other virtua means of keeping on top of your communication at work, this is a feature which has been accelerated in 2020 with the huge shift to being a nation that works from home.
Not only can jobs be created, collaborators added and tagged to a particular client or project, these job boards often have ‘comment sections’ (no, not the ones your grandma loves on Facebook) but comment sections allowing direct communication on the ‘card’ of the project itself. With room for subtasks, links, Google Drive links, and even time-tracking extensions, you can see exactly how long a project is taking compared to its estimate, who’s working on it at any one time as well as any other piece of info about that project you might need.
This job board concept simply creates a more direct alternative to normal forms of communication about a project. Gone are the days you’re desperately hunting through your emails for a one-liner sent in April 2018 that you now desperately need - it’s all in one simple, easy-to-use place.. While comprehensive messages and detailed plans can’t be conveyed using a simple messaging system, it’s a brilliant alternative to those quick-fire updates.
So, there’s lots going on digitally right now. As technology advances, the way we communicate changes, and crucially - the way we work. With more people working remotely, these different methods of communication are becoming vital to the performance of businesses.
Without clear communication, projects can fall behind, and your colleagues sit in endless limbo waiting on that important bit of information they need. What solutions like cloud storage and job boards offer are alternative ways to share vital information, and keep it tied to a project - as well as letting you communicate with colleagues and just stay connected. Of course, these aren’t substitutes for face-to-face chats or meetings - but they are alternatives when this option isn’t available.
If you’d like to know more about how digital tools can boost your performance, why not get in touch with us today? Here at Ultimate, we pride ourselves on streamlining exactly what our clients need through their digital landscapes, whether it’s digital marketing, branding, SEO, content strategies, campaigns and much much more - finding better ways of communication is what we’re all about.