We are 100% remote, and like a lot of companies, we adopted a hybrid solution, but mostly working from home. In this situation, we have been more aware than ever of the importance of communication.
Effective communication inside and outside the organization is essential to making it last! (But not the only thing, of course!)
With more tools and channels than ever to communicate, figuring out which communication channels will work best can feel overwhelming. Is it ever OK to WhatsApp your manager? Should you email your coworker with a quick question? Is it right to send a Slack message for relevant information? And does anyone still use the phone for calling?
Don’t stress! We are all in the same boat trying to figure it all out. We did an investigation into the best uses of each channel, and we want to share it with you. Let’s begin!
What types of communication channels can we find?
Chat, email, in-person, video… The list is long, but we will differentiate between these three categories to make it easier:
Formal Communication: this is information that needs to be shared to give the employees a clear idea of the company’s vision and goals. i.e. a PowerPoint or Slide presentation shared during a team meeting.
Informal Communication: troubleshooting or addressing quick, on the spot work-related issues. Ex. group chat messaging or other tools to answering employee’s or customer’s questions in real time
Unofficial Communication: to discuss random topics outside working hours. Ex. text messages, social media, group chat.
With so many platforms available and so many different types of communication, we need to select the right channel for each type of communication.
You probably shouldn’t send an official contract to sign through Slack, or tell your colleague about your last event through an email.
Here, our tips about how to use each communication channel:
This list is not set in stone, of course. Feel free to adapt or use each tip, and adapt them to your needs!
We will only share some usage guidelines and suggestions; there will be no hard rules! But they work for us, so we hope they work for you as well :).
1. The old glory email - yet used by all of us!
We all still have an email account (or multiple accounts), even though we may not use them as much as we used to!
One advantage of email is that you don’t have to wait for weeks to receive it, but its rapid response is not its main characteristic. Mails tend not to be answered instantly. So, when can we use it?
To communicate with clients or providers
To communicate with external parties
To share relevant announcements with employees
To send files to another person
For employee surveys Emails are great, but be careful not to over-rely on communicating through emails - inboxes tend to be overflowing with junk, so it might not be the best way to get a hold of someone! A McKinsey Global Institute report found that the average worker spends about 28% of the average workweek reading and answering emails. Always have a back-up alternative ready (like the other options on this list).
2. Video Conferencing or zoom, Google Meets or Teams.
Video conferencing has seen a 535% rise in daily traffic in 2020. The pandemic turned them from “optional” to a “must” overnight.
Video conferencing is a great channel when you want to see people’s expressions, improve communication, connect teams, and even boost your morale. But, being a must doesn’t mean it’s for everything. When is a good time to use this more interactive channel?
Meetings when we want people to interact
Organizing a meeting or giving feedback about projects
New hires, first interviews can be more transparent by video than by call.
Company events or communications to enhance engagement among people
The challenge here is to define well the end goal of the meeting and the duration of it so it does not exceed the time. A whole week of virtual meetings leaves 38% of employees feeling exhausted, while 30% feel stressed (Forbes). Make sure to leave time to work and focus!
3. Phone Calling - yes, it's still used!
A phone call is a great way to communicate urgent issues and get answers quickly. We are talking about phone calls, but here we could also include WhatsApp calls or other instant messaging calls.
If you don’t need visuals to communicate your message, a voice call is a little more convenient—you don’t need to brush your hair. Plus, if the person you called isn’t available, you can leave a voice message without being restricted to a certain number of text characters.
Also, phone calls can incur massive initial costs, especially if you’re using traditional phone lines or systems, like a public branch exchange (PBX) to transfer calls to other members of your team.
4. Instant Messaging (IM) or Slack, Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger…
We all use IM! They are great for simple and direct communication between teams, and we are introducing new channels only for business. They will allow you to directly and easily connect with your peers. You get pinged right away if someone sends you a message, and you can type out a reply in seconds.
While all of this sounds great, IM channels aren’t always the most ideal when it comes to communicating about certain topics. IM tools should be reserved for more informal or unofficial methods of communication. Relevant information can easily get lost in IM channels with the many notifications that come in throughout the day.
For relevant communications, you should keep an official channel so everyone can easily access important company communication in the corresponding place. Here, Gretel will help you to complement this channel. We'll see at the next point!
5. Internal communication channels or channels made for business!
According to a recent study, 74% of employees have the feeling that they are missing out on important company news and 85% of employees say they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news (Trade Press Services).
Even with so many communication channels, we still miss relevant information. Sometimes more doesn’t mean better! For that reason, companies are creating new official channels to share relevant information and keep everyone aligned and engaged.
These are some of the most common channels in these categories:
Integrated information software: you can find here new solutions that offer internal communication channels. 86% of employees say that they usually experience difficulty searching for office files when they need them (SmallBizTrends). In Gretel, we have our own news channel to keep all the relevant information.
Internal podcast: studies from LinkedIn show that 42% of people between the ages of 18-34 listen to podcasts at least once a week. It can be interesting to share information with employees, but it’s important to know that not all of the company's employees may be listening to it! Not all will like it!
Internal social media: creating platforms to share communications with your employees is also a good way to improve your relationship, but can also feel intrusive and more time-wasting than other channels!
Integrate all your information into one platform: Gretel!
Do you want everyone to find relevant information at your company? We got you covered!
With Gretel, you will have all your various channels integrated to find what you need at any moment. Moreover, our built-in apps will allow you to improve productivity among teams.
With the NEWS application, you and your team will have all the relevant information located in one place, be able to comment on it, and access historical info easily.