Quick Summary: Take advantage of today’s cutting-edge technology tools to improve inter-office communication. Now more than ever, employees telecommute from a home office. In fact, some companies are entirely virtual. Keep remote employees and in-house staff in the loop and updated on important workplace issues.
One or more of these tech tools may help you communicate better with employees in the field, working remotely, or even sitting in cubicles down the hall.
Text for fast response. “The advantage with texting is that it is pseudo email because you have documented communication versus verbal,” says Steve Krisfalusy, technology architect, SJK Beringer Group Ltd., Sheffield Village , Ohio . Texting is best for quick hits: “Mtg conf rm 3 pm.” Texting is also a way to direct employees toward more complete information, such as keying in a reminder: “Check out new employee newsletter on intranet.”
Take a poll. Need fast feedback? Consider using Web-based polling software such as PollMonkey and MicroPoll. “Free poll software is readily available, allowing employers to set up polls in a matter of a few minutes,” says Anita Campbell, editor, Small Business Trends ( www.smallbiztrends.com ). Use polls to assess interest in a new program, for example, or as a way to RSVP for programs, and many more options.
Blog your news. Blogs are accessible forums for sharing knowledge. “Companies can use blogs to post information about new employee benefits programs, new procedures, etc.,” Campbell says. Remember, blogs are accessible to the public. Companies that want to share proprietary information online should rely on the company intranet instead, which is only accessed by employees with passwords.
Teach via video. YouTube is more than an after-hours pastime; it also has marketing and training advantages: You can record a video documenting a process and upload it for free. All employees can view this clip. For private business software with the same capabilities, check out Microsoft Office SharePoint, which is a system that enables online training, among other interactive features, Krisfalusy says.
Convene virtually. Free video conferencing software, such as Skype, allows remote employees to “meet.” Invite a speaker to discuss benefits changes via a video conference. “Smaller organizations can invest in inexpensive video cams and use the free or low-cost Skype connections to hold team meetings when members are scattered over a distance,” Campbell says.
- Assess communication gaps in your company. Where do employees fall out of the loop? While working in the office, remotely, or in the field?
- Address privacy. If information you want to share is proprietary, consider investing in a company intranet that can serve as a private, interactive communication tool and online bulletin board for corporate news.
- Consider generational preferences. Appeal to the younger workforce by tuning in to communication trends, such as text messaging.
- Tap into free software. You can video conference and take polls for free (or for a very low cost). Search online for these options that can boost your communication level without breaking the bank.
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