We all know the ins and outs of communication in the workplace very well. From watercooler talk, to sending and receiving what feels like thousands of emails per day, to conference calls, and boardroom meetings. Our daily routines are often dictated by when, how, and where we will take a minute to chat or have an important conversation about past, present, and upcoming projects.
Back before the integration of computers and the Internet at work, face-to-face meetings with our bosses and colleagues was the way things were done. We would put together intricate notes to share and prove that we were on top of our game.
This was, and still is, convenient when all employees of a company work out of the same office. But that’s not always the case anymore – the workplace is getting more and more dispersed with an ever rising number of telecommuters.
Back in the day, we often mitigated the dispersion of people by setting up conference calls with colleagues, subcontractors, and clients spread across states and countries. Nowadays it seems that when a meeting can’t be put together, we receive book-length emails with at least 20 people in the CC list.
The great thing about email is that we are given the freedom of offering our two cents at a time that is convenient for us. No more having to stop in our tracks to prepare for a meeting we forgot we had!
While the shift to email brought an incredible amount of freedom to the workplace, it also brings an absurd amount of stress. Written communication can be very time consuming. Not only does it take time and editing to write a well communicated email, the amount of time it takes to read, respond, and focus back on what you were doing in the first place can be overwhelming.
This Atlassian infographic shows that it takes 16 minutes to get back to your focus after checking incoming. Not including your morning email check, imagine the amount of productive time you waste simply from checking your email say 4 times throughout the day – over an hour! According to a McKinsey report, employees spend a quarter of their day reading and responding to emails. Imagine that plus all the important phone calls and meetings we always end up having to tend to and your day is over before you even have a chance to get any work done!
Recently, there has been a rise in online team communication tools that allow colleagues to share files and communicate in real time. One example is Slack. Slack allows its users to exchange instant messages and share documents. It archives all messages and files shared through it. Tools such as this one seem to be great for team projects as each member can always stay up to date with what is going on with their colleagues – especially with the growing amount of millennials in the workplace who likely feel most at home on the social network-style interfaces that tools like Slack mimic.
Using the words “social network” and “work” in the same context can be daunting for employers, given that “social network” is often attached only to personal social networking sites like Facebook.
Think about the quality of work that you and your colleagues offer after having spent the whole day chatting about life with project talk woven in between on instant messaging. It’s important to remember that a large part of our communication remains in personal conversations. Speaking to a colleague or a client allows to build a sense of personal trust, which goes a long way in business.
So the next time you think about sending a long winded email to your team, pick up a phone or walk over to their desk and have a good, old fashioned conversation.