We have been made duly aware that we live in an Information Age, and a company’s assets arrive in the morning and leave at night. Those assets, of course, are the employees. Communicating with them and facilitating conversations among them are critical to success. The dynamics of intra-company conversations have become more complex due to the constantly changing modes and channels of telecommunication. It’s crucial to understand the ways in which technology is both enhancing the operations of your business and introducing new problems.
Pro: Increased Contact Among Personnel
Enhanced telecommunication technologies, such as video conferencing and VoIP call forwarding, have made it increasingly possible to link together all internal operations, departments, and personnel.
Technology that lets you bring together your team on a moment’s notice, whether they work off-site or in another office, allows for the rapid disbursement of information, the ability to solve problems quickly, and, by letting businesses monitor the transmissions, increased accountability. It’s difficult to imagine any company functioning effectively in the absence of a tight, well-maintained communication network, in which everyone is reachable nearly all the time.
Con: Employees Always On-Call Suffer Burnout
While this explosion of connectivity may be a boon for a micro-managing supervisor or a needy colleague, and perhaps an essential resource during a crisis, for the day-to-day goings-on of your business, employees who are presumed to be in constant contact may see this as a harmful intrusion into their private lives.
The expectation, created by technology, that employees must be reachable 24/7 may lead to fatigue or decreased productivity in the workplace. The governments of both France and Germany are aware of the problems imposed by technology on the workforce and have instituted policies discouraging, if not outright prohibiting, managers from emailing and phoning their employees during evenings and on the weekends. These protocols were put in place in order to protect workers from excessive office interruption during their free time, and, consequently, to keep them from burning out.
It seems unlikely that this will happen in the US any time soon, but managers would be wise to communicate to employees when they are expected to be available and when they are off the clock. All parties must communicate this arrangement clearly and stick to it.
Pro: Intranets Increase Information Flow and Provide Other Services
To make internal communications more efficient, many companies are creating intranets keeping in pace with Web 2.0 developments. No longer limited to just email and a shared server, a next-level intranet comes equipped with all the resources we’ve come to expect from the Web at large: social networking, wikis, e-publishing, and more.
A well-designed intranet manages everything from content and customer records to orders and company newsletters, storing and making accessible files, communiques, and memoranda. It’s a cost-effective measure that decreases the need for maintaining physical documents, and it allows for employees and contractors from all over the world to collaborate seamlessly within the same virtual office.
Con: The Risk of Losing the Human Touch
Last and perhaps most obvious is the way in which technology has eroded the “human touch.” Because of the sophistication of company telecommunication systems, colleagues in the same office may go for days without encountering each other in-person or hearing each other’s voice.
When employees’ social skills atrophy, the company suffers. The team can’t present an effective in-person presentation. The individuals become clueless about elevator talk with subordinates. Eventually, they can forget how to communicate with external constituencies, ranging from customers to regulators.
Granted, that’s a worst-case scenario. But business is about solutions. No company would survive, never mind grow, if it neglected problems like this. This is a crucial transition time, and both management and employees need to decide how to communicate effectively with technology.
This article was originally published by TTI Houston
Published: November 5, 2014