Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to solve a problem
If you’re going to work as a team, you don’t just need the right tools for the job, you need to know the best way to use them.
Chances are your staff spend less time at their desks these days, courtesy of the mobility boom and the rise of the cloud.
It’s great to stay productive while you’re working away from the office, but it’s also important that you’re on the same page as your colleagues. That’s why mobility, communication and collaboration tools tend to go hand in hand.
A solid mobility, communications and collaboration strategy can lay the groundwork for a Bring Your Own Device policy, remote access facilities, working on the road, teleworking from home and perhaps even doing away with expensive office space completely to become a virtual business. All of these concepts rely on everyone working as a team. Thankfully you’ll find a wide range of cloud-based communication, collaboration and project management tools to underpin that teamwork.
There’s more to collaboration than hitting Reply All on group emails. Actually the curse of the Reply All button is probably dragging down your productivity. For your staff to work as a team, it’s important to examine your various lines of communication and determine the most efficient and cost-effective ways to use them.
Communication methods can be divided into two main camps: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous means you’re interacting in real-time, such as face-to-face or in a voice or video conversation. Synchronous communications also tend to be the most time-consuming, especially when more people join the conversation. They require everyone’s full attention and there are also certain social conventions involved. You can’t simply ring your boss, ask a single question and then hang up in their face when you get the answer.
Asynchronous communications are often more efficient, such as email, SMS, instant messaging or a comment left in a collaboration tool. You can send the message when it suits you and then the recipient can reply when it suits them, taking the time to give a considered response. Yet asynchronous communications have their weaknesses as well, especially if you get bogged down in a long exchange of messages and misunderstandings which could have been resolved with a quick phone call.
Rather than making your business more nimble, these new communication technologies can actually paralyse your decision-making. Then there’s the problem of inbox overload, exacerbated by the fact that some people feel the need to fire off an email over every little issue and CC it to the entire organisation – the stuff Reply All nightmares are made of.
This sounds like basic stuff, but misusing communication tools is still one the biggest impediments to business teamwork and productivity. The situation only gets worse when you add the tyranny of distance as people start working away from the office. If this sounds like your business, it’s worth taking the time to consider how and when you use your various communication channels – looking for bottlenecks and productivity traps. A few guidelines on when to pick up the phone, fire off an email or send an instant message could make a big difference to the way you do business.