Software as a Service allows organizations to access and integrate tooling complete with live updates, ongoing support, and cloud access. It’s also opened up doors for teams and individuals to work in new and more dynamic ways, ranging from remote offices, to flex work, to working from home. At the same time, this diversity of work arrangements means that organizations have to push for stronger and better team communication.
While there are many different ways to communicate, the following team communication trends will help you to bring teams together, even across distances.
Chat programs like Slack are nearing DeFacto standardization. Employees increasingly want fast, easy, and effort-free communication options, and that often means chat. While there are dozens of tools, most have their own pros and cons, including that some make it too easy to communicate. For example, slack channels constantly update and offer notifications which can be distracting or might detract from important updates without proper organization.
Most organizations will prefer to use tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Discord, Spark, Facebook Workplace, Skype, or similar. These should be considered a basic element of internal communication. Most benefit from choosing options that support organization, with structures such as private team channels and one-on-one chat, rather than solutions like Skype.
Tips for Chat:
- Organize teams into private channels
- Create separate channels for Code Red and formal updates
- Implement team chat with external team members as part of team chat groups
Automation is increasingly adding value to team communication, simply because it enables individuals to work more quickly and efficiently. Automation tooling will heavily depend on your communication platform and team.
For example, Slack allows organizations to implement third-party apps for video conferencing and calls, and enables automated calling by typing a tag like /zoom. And, gig economy company Upwork integrates automatic file-scanning and security measures into its messaging system
Other integrations range from instant file and data sharing to immediately viewing projects being shared to checking items such as pay slips and schedules. Automation possibilities heavily depend on the platform or SaaS and its options, but is becoming increasingly common and useful.
This also extends to chatbots, which can function as virtual assistants to fetch files, information, or relevant invites, to automatically generate items the team would otherwise have to stop and manually add to the chat.
Workflow Integration into Tooling
Chat and general communication are most valuable when integrated into tooling (and vice versa). SaaS platforms increasingly enable direct sharing, publishing, and requests as part of the tooling. This heavily relies on the capabilities of your SaaS programs, but results in app interaction at a data level.
The result? Users can interact through tooling by participating in workflows they contribute to anyway. And, at a deeper level, connecting at a data level allows organizations to model workflows across the company to improve and optimize those flows. How does that look in real life? Some of organizations implementing data-level collaboration allow payroll managers to directly request data from employees, who can fill out hours and information from their own portals. Data is automatically processed and directly moves to payroll, rather than through a floor manager, creating a seamless communication process.
This type of workflow communication is becoming more common in customer service, sales, HR, and development, although it’s not yet fully adopted.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service allows organizations to move away from distributing hardware and offers complete solution rollouts for organizations. This extends to development platforms, video conferencing, application hosting, and development, without requiring the employee to worry about hardware. This is heavily related to virtual machines and servers, but PaaS typically involves more of the application stack, with operating systems, databases, and virtual machines all virtualized and accessible through the cloud.
What’s the benefit of PaaS for communication? It allows organizations to move even remote workers onto the same software and hardware, regardless of existing hardware capabilities. This ensures developers and teams are all on the same page, work inside the same tooling, and in the same ways. This does greatly influence team performance and collaboration, especially when communicating needs and requirements across teams.
Remote work is becoming more and more common. At the same time, the value of face-to-face communication is undeniable in that it fosters better communication, leads to stronger bonds, and generally results in better collaboration. Video conferencing and collaboration is increasingly used to bridge this gap without forcing organizations to ask employees to spend large amounts of time and budget traveling.
Video conferencing tools allow teams to chat as a team or in one-on-one situations, adding body language and facial expressions to calls.
Internal communication is a nearly endless struggle in companies of any kind, but modern tooling makes it easier to track, monitor, and measure. Implementing tooling like chat, automation, PaaS, and video conferencing also mean that teams will have near-instant access to each other and to assistance, no matter where they work. Today’s SaaS trends are moving towards automation, integrated workflows, and communication tools that implement into tooling, so that teams can communicate as part of work, rather than separately from it.