“Where did we have that conversation..?” How a team agreement frames your online collaboration for success.
< 28 October 2019 >
When it comes to external communications with customers and clients and the wider world, we’re increasingly adapting to an omnichannel experience. The latest UC breakthroughs enable a seamless flow of persistently tracked interactions and analytics, so that any person who later picks up on dealing with that enquirer has the full context at their fingertips, every word of the history, wherever it took place.
This shift is revolutionising the way brands communicate with their users and other stakeholders – but what about internally, the people who work within those organisations? Are we getting the same benefits of the connected conversation?
Or instead, is there a danger that the proliferation of tools we can use to collaborate in the distributed workspace can potentially add to the confusion?
Consider, the traditional pre-UC workplace of a decade or so back. We had different channels for different kinds of communication: We picked up the phone for a quick chat, sent an email to share a document or a plan, drafted a memo or even a formal business letter to express something to an external stakeholder or senior person. Ephemeral chitchat took place at an actual watercooler, and a conference call or videoconference was a grand and complicated affair that sometimes actually worked. Perhaps we had some kind of shared file server, an online version of the big cabinet in the administrator’s office.
But it was pretty easy to know with confidence that the report you needed was doubtless emailed to you, or there’s a hard copy in your pigeonhole. You weren’t casting around to wonder which app, which channel, which group, which conversation it could possibly have been, in which you first received it.
The challenge is that the tools we use now are so complex and ubiquitous, they’re all encroaching on each other’s traditional territories to some extent. You can share a file, send a private message, launch a video call, or plan a project, in pretty much any collaboration platform – so which one did we do that meeting in last month anyway? And if we know we always do the daily stand-up in Slack but then put the notes in a Trello card, is anyone going to tell the new guy about that habit we have unconsciously evolved?
What you need is a clear understanding and agreement about HOW you use your various communication tools, not just what you use.
And it needs to dig down into the different kinds of communication you can have, from different perspectives. Is there an expectation that something in a chat channel should receive a synchronous response? Is there a rule about linking to source docs, rather than attaching versions, to an email thread? Do you use email at all internally?
Consider urgency too: you don’t email the fire brigade. Some communications need to get through in real time at all costs, so it might be totally appropriate to call the CEO’s personal mobile if there is a literal or metaphorical fire, like a PR scandal ormajor data breach for example. But you don’t ping the entire all-staff channel in 7 time zones with the latest hilarious GIF.
Yes, a great deal of it will be common sense.
But as your team grows and evolves its unique culture and behaviours, taking the time to discuss and codify exactly how you want to use the tools at your disposal to connect with each other will pay dividends in shared understanding, avoidance of mistakes, and better relationships between colleagues – a win-win all round.
At the UC Summit you’ll discover everything that the latest collaboration platforms can do for you and your team. Then it will be up to you decide to use all those powerful functions, to make your communication and collaboration run smoothly.
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