Team communication is one of the great challenges created by the rise of remote and hybrid workstyles. With employees dispersed over broad geographic areas, it can be difficult to ensure that the right information is getting to the right people at the right time using the right communication channel.
For a great many organizations, business chat applications have become essential for bridging the physical divide between distributed employees. Their ability to facilitate quick, brief and direct communications led to greatly expanded use of these apps during the pandemic. Eighty-one percent of businesses now regularly use them, up from 67 percent in 2019, according to a recent Spiceworks Ziff Davis study on workplace communication trends.
Messaging and chat apps have been around for years, and they deliver well-established workplace benefits. They offer an easy and effective alternative to email, phone and even face-to-face communications, and provide instant information about a colleague’s availability. And they are lightweight, inexpensive and easy to use.
To the Point
Chat can often be superior to voice or email for many team communications. It encourages people to be brief and to the point, which can improve message clarity when compared to long, rambling phone calls and email threads. In fact, reducing email volume is one of the chief benefits of team chat.
Studies show the average professional receives roughly 120 emails per day, and nearly half of them are spam. Even those that deal with legitimate work issues can turn into frustrating, productivity-zapping communications involving scads of “reply all” messages that arrive out of sync and add little to the conversation. Such threads help explain why the typical user spends about 2.5 hours every day reading and answering email.
Worse yet, sending long, detailed emails to team members may have zero impact. Studies suggest that nearly three-quarters of business people won’t even read emails with long blocks of text and uninformative subject lines. They may open it and give it a quick look, but quickly move on to more pressing tasks.
Messaging gets to the point and doesn’t waste time. In addition, group chat features allow multiple people to communicate in real time about an ongoing project without the time lags they would experience with email.
In addition, these group chats are persistent, meaning conversations and message threads don’t simply disappear when you close the app. You can go back and search or scroll through them days or weeks later. Individual “rooms” for specific projects remain in place, creating a sequential record of work and making it easy to resume work on projects at a later date.
For years, one of the business challenges of messaging was that most apps were proprietary programs that did not integrate with other solutions. Users often needed multiple chat apps to communicate with different audiences. In addition, they might also require standalone apps for video chat, file sharing and screen sharing.
The best chat apps today now offer more functionality, either through tighter integration with other communication tools or as elements of comprehensive team collaboration solutions. For example, Microsoft Teams and RingCentral Glip unify persistent chat with email clients, video chat, voice calls, file sharing and dozens of other third-party collaboration tools.
The Spiceworks study found that businesses today are using an averaging of five separate team communications solutions. With wider integration possibilities, today’s top messaging solutions allow businesses to reduce complexity by consolidating tools, which should help improve communications for distributed workforces.