Avoiding Communications Breakdowns in the Digital Workplace

Avoiding Communications Breakdowns in the Digital Workplace | Claromentis

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place”, according to author George Bernard Shaw.

It would be easy to imagine that by investing in the latest gadgets and gizmos for staff, and providing them with access to cloud and software-based platforms galore, you have cracked the communications conundrum.

After all, everyone in your company can now “talk” to each other in real-time, using a sea of data, around the clock, from anywhere across the globe.

Yet research shows that employees can still feel out of the loop and ignored. In fact, one study in the US showed that a third of workers were considering a job change because they were frustrated by ineffectual workplace communication.

Communication is clearly the lifeblood of any organisation, but it’s also tricky to monitor and measure effectively. The damage can be done before you even realise that there was a bottleneck or gap.

Multiple methodologies and systems

One of the most common ways to choke effective and fruitful communications is to create a company technology profile on a diverse range of platforms and a multitude of devices. There are quirks, workarounds, overlaps and fragmented information lurking everywhere.

In fact, a properly configured and integrated end-to-end digital workplace should be a continuous, seamless stream of information. It should enable everyone in the organisation to enjoy equality in data visibility, the chance to consult and collaborate, and learning opportunities.

Over sharing

Having access to relevant and constantly updated data, from intranet software that supports effective communication, does not mean falling foul of the modern trend towards oversharing.

The employees complaining of poor communication are not just the ones left in the dark. They are also the people who are constantly distracted and confused with a barrage of “pings”, emails, video conference calls and other communications.

Productivity will fall if everyone in your organisation is trying to keep up with mass (and massive) updates. This could mean hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of staff time taken up reading information unnecessarily.

Sharing is not caring if staff are struggling to keep up with reports and memos that are not relevant to them. How much vital information do they miss, due to computer fatigue or getting lost in the oversharing culture?

A truly effective digital workplace requires careful management of how intranet software is used. There needs to be a clear procedure for sifting out who needs to know what and by when.

Employee engagement with intranet software

Another common communications problem in digital workplaces is when systems have been entirely developed around improving efficiencies and profitability, without considering the needs of users. There hasn’t been a business strategy in the history of time that didn’t require people who understood that strategy and who wanted it to succeed.

Much of the workforce dissatisfaction with modern-day communication is the feeling of being talked “at”, rather than talked to. However, there is also a misconception that all employees are “tech savvy”. Just because the vast majority of people use technology in everyday communication doesn’t mean that they can understand digital business applications.

In 2016, the global Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only around 31.1 percent of the population in the countries it researched had tech skills above “basic”. In the past two years access to computers has improved, but not to the extent that this average figure can be ignored.

Good communications, positive employee engagement and effective training are intertwined. If not, you risk increasing staff churn, ultimately damaging your bottom line.

Digital workplace systems must be developed around the needs of staff. How can they be configured to give employees the best possible chance of succeeding in their role? How can intranet software provide support across the full spectrum of abilities and roles?

Communications and creativity

One of the arguments against moving your entire business operations into the digital realm is the potential to lose sight of the “social” element of any successful workplace.

There is less need now for people to gather in the same room to brainstorm or confer. The gatherings around the coffee machine are less because so many people work remotely. Is this loss of social opportunities significant beyond employee happiness? It certainly is.

Communications of a more informal and unstructured nature are the breeding ground of creativity and innovation. For this reason, digital workplaces must include social project management tools and opportunities for staff to recreate the coffee machine huddles online. This also serves to connect and engage staff who work remotely.

After saying all that, there is still no complete replacement for the occasional team gathering in person, and the traditional way of finding solutions and new ideas – person to person talking.

A good relationship starts with good communication. Talk to Claromentis about the advantages of properly configured intranet software.
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