How are 500+ Employee Organizations Communicating in 2017?
How do CTOs of large enterprises make sure that employees are communicating effectively?
Let’s take a look at what’s happening on the ground. For a start, workplaces are changing: ‘blended’ work forces are becoming the norm, people are increasingly scattered – and when team members touch base with each other, more often than not, it’s via portable devices.
As the workplace evolves, so too do the means of communication. In 2017, old favorites (email and telephony, for instance) still have a role to play – it’s just that organizations are wising up on how best to put them to work. When new tools such as enterprise social networks (ESNs) are adopted, it’s not about jumping on a bandwagon just for the sake of it, but about finding ways to address genuine communications needs.
So here’s a closer look at what’s changing – and at how big companies are providing their people with the right tools for effective, reliable and secure communication…
Blended work forces mean re-thinking your internal comms
Forbes highlighted the continued rise of the blended workforce as one of the top trends to watch in 2017. What’s more, a study from earlier last year suggests that 60 percent of companies envisage a time coming when they will have more freelancers than full-time employees.
A core of permanent staff working alongside freelancers, consultants and short-term employees: this is the model for an ever-growing number of larger organizations. So what does it mean for internal communications?
The organizational needs are threefold:
- The right tools. More often than not, a blended workforce is a scattered workforce. Permanent employees may find themselves working with temporary team members who aren’t on-site – and perhaps aren’t even on the same continent. Live document sharing, messaging apps, video: these types of solution become more important than ever for effective collaboration and communication.
- A flexible set-up. Needs fluctuate. One month, a company might find itself having to rely on a whole army of temporary workers. The next month, that need simply isn’t there – or is reduced significantly. Companies can do without huge investments in infrastructure to get collaboration and communication tools up and running. The ability to add licenses as and when required, fees per month, per user: this flexibility helps to explain why SaaS is the way forward for companies looking to kit out their people with the communication tools they need in a budget-friendly, flexible way.
- Interoperability. Tools such as Skype for Business make sense when all team members are connected to designated client devices. But what happens when S4B users need to connect to other devices – perhaps being used by temporary team members? Tailored solutions are needed for organizations to sustain their workflow without the hassle and cost of downloading additional clients. The Skype for Business Gateway enables employees to stay within the collaboration ‘ecosystem’ they are used to – no matter who they are working with – and where they are working from.
Companies ditch email to improve efficiency
Right now there are an estimated 2.5 billion business email addresses worldwide, and that number is on the rise. As a business tool, email is far from dead. What’s becoming clear to many organizations however, is that its value as an internal communications tool is limited.
Harvard Business Review reported how email takes up 23 percent of an average employee’s time, and that 112 emails are sent or received in a typical day. In theory, it seems ‘quick and instant’, but the reality – not least, scrolling through irrelevant messages and keeping track of unwieldy threads – makes it anything but.
David Burkus recently took a closer look at the French tech giant Atos and its goal to become a zero-email company. Operating margins increased, administrative costs were cut – and earnings per share went up by 50%. Not all of this was down solely to the email ban – but, as Burkus demonstrates, “the correlation is certainly strong”.
With research suggesting that limiting email decreases stress and boosts productivity, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a slew of larger organizations review their email usage policy in 2017.
Businesses get social
If email really is on the wane, then what’s replacing it as a mode of workplace communication? The growth of ESNs are certainly a significant feature. Take Slack, for instance: it launched in 2014 – and currently has around 6 million weekly active users. We’ve also recently seen the arrival of Facebook Workplace which includes chat, support for a company News Feed and Facebook Live functionality.
But a ‘business-friendly’ version of what is essentially a consumer social app – isn’t necessarily the best option for enterprises. Just as Skype is no substitute for a tailored solution to a company’s teleconferencing needs, if flexibility, reliability, and security are all top priorities, then blindly adopting Facebook Workplace might not be the best way forward in the long-run. Enterprises need to work out their requirements and find a tool that meets them.
(Virtual) face-to-face communication is the way forward
For effective collaboration, bridging geographic distances and improved workflow, videoconferencing is already well-established as a key communications tool for businesses large and small. But as with social networks, bigger organizations are realizing that for the solution to work, it needs to meet the specific needs of the company.
Reliability, stutter-free performance and ease of use are essential prerequisites. But at the same time, does the solution give meeting and conference attendees a very real sense that they are attending a meeting in their very own office – wherever they may happen to be? In other words, does it feel like your solution?
This element of branding can be really useful – not just in terms of giving the right impression to partners and clients, but also in promoting a distinct and recognizable virtual office environment.
What do 500+ employee organizations require in 2017?
Where effective communication is a top priority, here’s what businesses should hone in on:
- A range of collaboration and communication tools to meet the needs of a scattered, mobile and blended workforce.
- Functionality such as Skype for Business Gateway – for seamless use of the tools your people require across multiple devices.
- Enterprise-grade solutions. A platform created for the consumer market and repackaged and re-presented for business might seem appealing – but will it really meet the needs of your organization?
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