… And How They Influence Your Employees’ Productivity
The Times does it. IBM does it. Even NASA does it. Business Messaging is the new way of communicating at work. It’s the new way of organizing projects; the new way of getting things done.
According to a survey conducted among users of the business messenger app Slack, team productivity increases by about 30 percent when using the tool (Source: The Economist). Not surprising then that user numbers of Slack, Cisco Spark, Microsoft Teams and similar tools are dramatically increasing. In 2016, almost 20 million people were actively using business messengers. That’s 193% more than in 2015, and the user number is forecast to rise to 160 million by 2021 (Source: Wainhouse Research).
Business Messaging meets the needs of today’s workplace
The reason for the quick adoption and widespread enthusiasm for Business Messaging is simple: it meets the requirements of today’s workplace far better than traditional instant messengers used in many companies today. Work environments have changed. The focus on individual work in fixed teams and locations has evolved into interdependent work in varying teams and locations. This evolution has changed the need for communication and organization among employees. Instead of one-on-one conversations in a closed environment, employees look for constant and open conversations among many. Business Messaging offers just that.
Business Messaging focuses on teams rather than individuals
While Instant Messaging focuses primarily on connecting individuals, Business Messaging connects teams. In fact, teamwork was the genesis of Business Messaging.
Slack, which was the first business messenger to take off, has its roots in a failed gaming start-up. The developers used it as an internal communication tool, organizing themselves around single projects rather than in fixed teams. Over time they kept adding new hacks to their tool to simplify their work and make it more fun. This internal organization quickly led to synergies and an extremely productive way of working together. When the team finally decided to launch Slack as a business solution, the tool quickly spread from developer teams to other engineering groups and eventually whole companies. Employees loved the idea and the ease of organizing themselves around single projects without the need for constant management.
With the launch of Cisco Spark and Microsoft’s recent announcement that Microsoft Teams is becoming their central collaboration and communication tool, major industry players are also progressively steering away from Instant Messaging and towards Business Messaging. Here are 5 major reasons why you should consider Business Messaging too:
1. Break Silos: 1:1 Interactions vs Teamwork
Instant Messaging is built for 1:1 interactions. Both users need to be connected to be able to chat and each of them can decide to accept or reject messages. Business Messaging, on the other hand, is fully centred on team conversations. The possibility to chat with an individual still remains but the main idea is to build channels and interact with various colleagues at the same time. This forces employees out of their silos and automatically gives them a better view of what’s going on around them.
2. Organise Projects: Buddy Lists vs Topics
With Instant Messaging all interactions start with your buddy list. This limits the people you’ll talk to and makes it likely that you chat with the same few people over and over again. In Business Messaging, threads are built around topics and projects rather than individual people. This leads to a whole different way of self-organisation among employees. Everyone can easily involve all key stakeholders in a conversation. And everybody can follow 1:1 conversations taking place in a project channel, ensuring everybody has the same information at the same time. It’s not about individual accomplishment anymore; it’s about getting projects done – together.
3. Finish Conversations: Start With a Blank Screen vs Start Where You Left Off
YES, Business Messaging allows you to pick up conversations where you left them, even if you close the messaging app in between! You can send and receive messages regardless of whether your chat partners are online or not. And you can re-open the app on a different device and still have access to all your conversations and documents. With Business Messaging your message history is kept and synchronized across devices at all times. Employees can finally continue their conversations anytime, anywhere. No more lost information due to closed chat windows. No more hurdles to continuing discussions a day later. And no more ‘continued discussions’ via slow and little engaging email threads.
4. Save Time: Ask for Content vs Find What You Need
With Instant Messaging, you need to ask for content. If you’re looking for a specific document you may have to ask a colleague to send it. And as it’s not stored in the message history, often you need to ask over and over again for the same content, resulting in an unnecessary waste of time. With Business Messengers all your documents and discussions are stored in context. You work on project X, you go to project channel X and find all corresponding documents together with all previous discussion on the topic. You even have a search function to look for a specific part of the conversation. Everyone saves time – and time is money!
5. Share Everything: Ad Hoc Messages + Files vs Rich Content + Voice & Video
Employees only connect via Instant Messengers when they specifically need something at a certain time. Once the question is solved or the file has been sent the thread is closed and thereby lost again. In Business Messengers, employees can engage in continuous interactive discussions, or spontaneously take the discussion into a call or video conference. Playful elements like emoji and memes bring fun to the mix and additionally motivate people to participate and share their work.
In short, Business Messaging has many advantages over Instant Messaging. It has real potential to save time, boost productivity and above all, bring people together.
Make sure your business is ready
Although Business Messaging has so much to offer, this does not mean you should just adopt it right away. Timing is crucial, as is choosing the right tool for your business’s needs. When you switch to a new type of tool, you’ll also need to switch your internal processes to a new way of working. Your business needs to be ready for that. If it isn’t ready to work in a project mode, for instance, you may be better served by sticking with your Instant Messenger for now.
So before you switch to Business Messaging, follow these steps:
- Adapt your business to make sure no organisational blockers come in the way
- Train and inform people, so they understand how it works and what is expected from them
- Deploy the right tool for your employees
Follow these ground rules and you really can achieve productivity increases of 30% and more. Our expert teams are happy to provide advice about which tool will work best for you, and help you make the right plan for your business.