Restore order to communications chaos in the workplace
The term bring your own device (BYOD) has been defined by Gartner as a disruptive phenomenon, writes Rufus Grig, the chief technology officer at Maintel. Employees were bringing non-sanctioned, non-company IT devices into work with the intention of connecting them to everything.
It’s key to note that this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, what’s new is the BYO communication wars. BYO refers to employees using consumer tools in the workplace including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat for personal and work related messaging.
Our recent research, ‘Bringing order to communications chaos’ found that more traditional methods of communications are in precipitous, and perhaps permanent decline. The findings highlighted that they are being replaced with a mix of new digital tools and platforms. For example, over the last three years landline phones have fallen in popularity by 25%. On the other hand, the use of new tools is on the rise, with the majority of respondents reporting that they have increased their use over the past three years. These include platforms such as WhatsApp (with 62% reporting increased use), FaceTime (87%), Snapchat (77%), Instagram (70%), and many more.
Consumer communication tools: Increasing in demand
As popular as these consumer tools may be, they are often blocked in the workplace. According to our research, Instagram is not approved in 41% of organisations, Facebook Messenger in 34% and Snapchat in 38%. The problem here however, is that a substantial proportion of employees want to be allowed to use these consumer-grade tools for work to increase efficiency, productivity and communication in the workplace.
It’s vital that businesses are aware of their employee’s desire to use these consumer communication tools in the workplace. With the research finding that three in ten employees are using WhatsApp for two or more hours each day and figures for Instagram (41%) and Facebook Messenger (32%) even higher, ignoring this could be catastrophic for businesses.
Businesses may already be finding employees asking to use their preferred communication tools in the workplace, or just questioning why they are not sanctioned. If this is the case, it’s important to be equipped with the correct answer to these questions and to be able to give a reasonable, understandable response. At the end of the day, employees will always be tempted to seek out other tools. This is why it’s important to understand that blocking certain tools and mandating others is only part of the solution. If the reasons given for using a particular communication tool over the one employees are asking to be sanctioned are not better, then it’s unlikely employees will buy into the idea.
Current communication strategies
With consumer communication platforms now right at our fingertips, organisations must take the time to evaluate their sanctioned communications strategies – or risk employees using unsanctioned and unsecure tools thanks to their ease of use and speed.
We know that the challenge of balancing user experience with compliance can seem daunting to businesses, especially with so many tools available. That’s why we’d like organisations to consider the following three pieces of advice when reviewing their communications strategy and infrastructure:
- Listen to your users
Businesses should make every effort to listen to users’ concerns about mandated communications platforms and do all they can to improve that experience.
The best way to drive your employees into the arms of insecure, unmonitored consumer-focused communications platforms is not to listen and react to their feedback on existing, business-based tools. Dialogue between management and users is the best way to encourage workers to use the right tools, and can also lead to improvements in policies and business-approved platforms that will make the user experience more enjoyable and productive.
The reasons for using a particular communications tool need to be as good as the reasons not to use a competing platform; and whichever one the company chooses, rules of best practice need to be clearly communicated.
- All platforms need policies
Businesses also need to abandon the belief that just because they have a corporate-appropriate communications system, it cannot be misused either on purpose or by accident. Policies need to be completely clear on what’s acceptable and appropriate at work, and what is not. In addition, it’s worth explaining the reasons for these policies to encourage adherence and establish greater security awareness among the workforce. Businesses should also ensure that the same clear guidelines are advertised to anyone who uses corporate systems, such as a business partner or other guest.
- Persuasion, not compulsion
Banning or blocking certain communications platforms will most likely lead to resentment, not least because workers will feel that their employers are forcing them down a path of unproductivity. There needs to be a good, well-communicated reason for banning a particular tool, especially if it’s one that has proven popular among the workforce.
Ultimately, businesses must avoid sitting back and doing nothing. As the technological landscape becomes more complex, it’s important that businesses understand how this impacts them. For organisations willing to embrace the modern era, it’s time they equip their staff with the modern tools that will allow them to communicate more efficiently.