Updated on 8/27/2022
The most common workplace communication channels are email, chat, video conferencing, and phone calls. However, there are other more modern ways to communicate at work. One of the most popular methods is a video conference, which allows people to video call each other but without having to use their personal smartphones or tablets. This article will explore some of these different workplace communication channels and how they can be used in an office environment to improve productivity
While email is the most common form of workplace communication, it can be a bit clunky for some tasks. For example, if you want to share a document or image with multiple people, there are several steps involved in doing so. You have to upload it first; then you have to send out an email with a link; then recipients need to open up that attachment; finally, they can view what you want them to see. It’s not the most seamless process! Most people struggle with staying on top of their emails as well.
Email should be used when:
- You need to communicate with internal and external people
- You want to send large attachments
Phone calls are the most personal way to communicate. This can be a good thing because you have a more direct line of communication, but it’s also more time-consuming than other methods because you have to dial into the phone system and wait for someone else to pick it up. For example, if someone is on a conference call or listening in on their phone, they won’t hear your message until they pick up their office phone. You can also accidentally send an email instead of making an important call if you don’t check carefully before sending off what could be confidential information or sensitive details about your company’s operations.
Phone calls should be used when:
- You need immediate answers
- You want to talk while driving
Face-to-face or in person communication is the most effective way to get your message across.
The advantages of face-to-face communication are:
- You can see what you’re talking about.
You get feedback in real time.
You can use gestures and facial expressions to help explain what you mean (if you want).
- Completely impractical for remote teams, which makes up the vast majority of workplaces in 2022.
- There’s no denying that people prefer to be in-person when possible, but it’s not always going to work for hybrid and remote teams.
In person should be used when:
- Making big decisions
- Are meeting to build rapport
An ideal tool for bridging the gap between email, a video conferencing tool, and a phone call is a workplace communication tool like Spike that turns legacy email into a chat-like tool but also allows employees to seamlessly switch between video calls, to email, to collaboration. Plenty of organizations have a chat tool today, but the best chat tool replaces your existing tools so employees can focus on getting their work done instead of switching constantly between all of their tools.
Spike gives you the best of email (talk to anyone) with the best of a team chat tool.
Effective team communication is much more than simply “getting on” with your team members, employees, customers, and clients.
It’s also a way to:
- Boost productivity
- Increase efficiency
- Foster collaborations
- Ensure that customers and clients will recommend your business to friends and family.
As technology continues to reach ever further into our lives, good communication skills in the workplace are more important than ever before.
Here then, we explore why good communication at work is important, how you can begin to improve workplace communication, and how you can identify and optimize your existing workplace communication channels. Read on to learn everything you need to know with Spike.
Why Good Communication in the Workplace is Important
Workplace communication is one of those things that many people take for granted. It’s a crucial component of a harmonious working environment that, more often than not, gets pushed to the bottom of the pile as soon as that meticulously planned schedule hits the fan.
However, it’s the rock star of good customer relationships, it’s excellent at nurturing employee engagement, and it gives a tangible boost to creativity and collaboration. Simply put, it’s good to chat—and nowhere is this more true than in the office.
There are a few significant areas that good communication can improve:
Creativity and Collaboration
Creativity is the lifeblood of innovative business, and ensuring that you, your staff, and even your clients and customers can be part of a collaborative and creative team is a surefire way to encourage your business to develop and grow in the right direction. Of course, creative collaborations depend on highly effective communication in the workplace, and sharing ideas, plans, and strategies should be a priority for any small business.
Building positive team dynamics that encourage respectful, yet open communication is key. Whether it’s a CEO communicating their vision to middle management or a valuable team member with a fresh idea, developing communication skills in the workplace will foster a creative mindset that can responsively and flexibly deal with problems while always nurturing future growth. As a bonus, including customers and clients in the act will ensure that you always have a fresh perspective on what your business offers and how it can improve in the future.
Help foster collaboration and effective communication in the workplace by holding weekly creative brainstorming sessions with team meeting ice-breaker activities. Combining work with play will nurture bond-building and improve office dynamics and atmosphere.
Networking and Relationships
Creative collaboration, networking, and relationships go hand in hand when building a successful business. Engaging individuals and other businesses to expand your network can provide a whole host of benefits that will allow you to source valuable team members, leverage new supplier deals, share knowledge and advice, and get the inside track on where your particular industry is heading.
Effective business communication not only provides a way for your employees to work towards a shared goal, but it also allows your business to extend and expand in new and exciting ways. Perhaps you’re looking to match a specific profile to a role, maybe you need hard-to-find materials for your next product, you might even want to reach out to your competitors to solve industry-wide issues. Whatever your business needs, fostering an extensive network through effective business communication will give you an edge.
Boost networking and engagement by improving your presence on social media channels, send out regular newsletters both internally and externally, and find out what everyone’s thinking with constructive surveys. Ask and you shall receive a boost to your business and knowledge.
The best way to manage conflicts is to ensure they don’t happen in the first place, and good communication at work is a fundamental part of this. By fostering healthy dialogue between staff and leaving an open door for team members to talk honestly with management, you can deal with problems within your team as they happen—rather than leaving them to fester until they are unmanageable.
When it comes to your team, whether they are staff members, freelancers, or digital nomads dotted around the world, keeping an open line of communication is key. You want everyone to feel comfortable sharing issues and working together to come to amicable (and productive) solutions. Conflict prevention and management are among the most useful elements of effective communication, and getting it right is crucial to your success.
Good Communication in the Workplace: How Does it Work?
If you want to enjoy good communication at work, there are a few pretty simple rules you can follow. Among other things, communication primarily revolves around open-mindedness and the ability to deliver a message clearly and accurately. Here, we take a look at the core concepts of good communication.
Open interaction is the be-all and end-all of positive communication culture. Conflicts can only be resolved quickly if team members approach each other with honesty. Stubbornly sticking to your point of view will inevitably lead to conflict, and slowly grind your projects to a halt. Openly dealing with the contributions of others and being open to feedback, however, strengthens both creativity and productivity.
Poor communication is often, simply, the inability to communicate a message. If clarity is lacking, misunderstandings quickly arise, and messages can be transmitted incorrectly. Make sure you pay close attention to your choice of wording and encourage others to do the same.
Whether in an e-mail, in a meeting, or during a conversation at the coffee machine, hiding the actual message behind empty words is always counterproductive. Even more so when dealing with complicated topics or concepts. Avoid miscomprehension and disinterest by taking your time in delivering the message—and don’t forget, the joy of repetition can always help clarify complex messages.
Friendliness, courtesy, and mutual respect are paramount. Nothing can create a bad atmosphere quicker than showing a lack of respect. Many individuals in management roles adopt an aggressive leadership style to underpin authority, but treating employees with the same respect you would like them to show you is a much more successful approach. Remember, respect goes both ways.
Communication is not a one-way street and the ability to listen to others is just as important as expressing yourself. Allow others to contribute and resist the temptation to interrupt. If for whatever reason you didn’t understand the message, show interest by asking the person to repeat what they said.
Nobody is perfect?! Everyone knows it but very few like to admit it. The ability to admit a mistake provides a good base for open and effective communication. It’s not a sign of weakness and apologizing honestly can have a disarming effect on listeners.
Those who admit mistakes and deal with the consequences are the most valuable team members. Whereas those that sweep the issue under the rug hoping it will disappear are simply deferring a problem that’s likely to raise its ugly head later down the line.
What’s the Most Effective Channel? – Identifying and Improving Workplace Communication
Every company culture is different. However, existing teams have their structure for working together, especially if they were established in a pre-2020 environment where they were in the office together daily.
Suppose a team is heavily invested in using email to communicate with each other. In that case, they might not take well to a new chat tool being introduced that forces them to monitor another inbox daily.
The kind of work a team does might also impact which tool is best suited for them. For example, a customer service team might prefer email to work with customers but might prefer a simple chat tool to chat internally and share files.
An important decision for business leaders is to not only pick the right tool(s) that their employees enjoy using but one that also promotes communication and productivity.
What Type of Organization are You Working With?
Organizations can generally be broken down into two types today: remote teams or in-office teams (of a mix of the two). How your teams are structured will play a key role in how to communicate at work effectively.
One key consideration for communication is understanding when to use synchronous vs. asynchronous communication in the workplace, and understanding what kind of team you work with plays a huge role.
If you’re working on a team that’s mainly in the office, you’ll often rely on synchronous communication methods – even if you’re remote a day or two at a time. On the other hand, if you’re on a team that primarily works remotely, you’ll want to lean into asynchronous communication, even if you plan to work in the office.
Different types of communication tools will be best utilized for certain types of messages. Before sending a message – consider the formality needed. If you’re sending to a large group, email might be preferable to a chat-based tool. If you’re scheduling an after-work happy hour (virtual or in-person), a company chat will be preferable for brevity.
If you aren’t sure, it’s better to lean to the side of choosing a more formal method (email) than an informal one (chat). Anytime that senior managers in an organization are included in the conversation, it’s best to default to more formal methods.
Picking a Communication Tool Requires Knowing Your Audience
There are three distinct types of communication at work. Every interaction is generally going to be a face-to-face meeting, voice or video call, or written communication. Different kinds of conversations will naturally fit better than the other, so it’s essential to choose the right one for the right circumstance.
1. Face-to-Face Communication
If you’ve forgotten what face-to-face communication is after a year of working at home – it’s like a video call, but in real life. Some examples of face-to-face communication are company meetings, company fun-days, one-on-one meetings, and team meetings.
While this type of communication isn’t used as much with the advent of digital tools, there are still times when it’s important to gather. Meeting together with your team can often make digital communication flow easier as people will have built a rapport with each other, streamlining projects in the future.
In company meetings, senior management can share a vision for the organization that can then be brought back to remote work in the future.
Another type of face-to-face communication is company parties and fun-days. These types of events might seem informal, but it’s always best to keep your guard up on what you say and how you act.
When having one-on-one meetings with people in face-to-face environments, you’ll be able to read body language and watch facial cues that you normally might miss outside of meeting in person.
For team meetings, it can be easier to stay focused reading the facial expressions of those around. If you’re the person speaking, it can be easier to “read the room” as you talk to see if people are agreeing or disagreeing with what you’re saying.
All these types of in-person meetings are a form of synchronous communication – meaning the other people in your group (or meeting) are talking and responding to each other in real-time.
2. Voice and Video Calls
Voice and video calls are a popular form of communication for remote teams as they provide a way to collaborate on work projects without being in the same room. Depending on the tool being used, they could be considered either synchronous or asynchronous.
Voice calls used to be the bedrock of our communication in the workplace. They are a form of asynchronous chat if you leave a voice message when the person is unavailable, but they can also be synchronous if you talk in real-time.
Video calls are primarily a synchronous communication style as most video communication platforms don’t allow you to leave video messages if the person isn’t there. Most video calls are pre-scheduled, even if by just a few minutes. You generally have to invite someone to a video call unless they are expecting the invitation ahead of time. Where you might call someone unexpectedly, you generally don’t invite someone to a video call without prior knowledge. Because of the intimacy that video brings, it just feels different than a phone call.
Video calls in the workplace are helpful for team members, project recaps, virtual “fun” events, and a lot more. Because it allows you to see everyone else on the call, it humanizes relationships at work instead of everyone on your team just appearing as an avatar.
Voice calls are another type of workplace communication. For remote teams, they might not be used as much as in-office teams. In-office teams will use it to ask questions rather than walking over to someone’s desk. Remote teams will rely on asynchronous communication tools like Spike and leverage video calls when synchronous communication is needed.
One aspect of work-life that will rely solely on voice calls is when you or a team member is traveling. When you’re trying to connect with members of your team when on the go, you’ll be way more likely to place a phone call than you are to join a video call with them.
3. Written Communication
Written communication will make up the majority of your work in modern society. The speed at which we can communicate over email and other messaging platforms is lightning fast compared to anything else available. The majority of written communication will be asynchronous, meaning that you’ll send a message and not receive a response for a certain period (hours, days, etc.).
The types of written communication that are most commonly used in the workplace are email, dedicated chat tools (Teams, Slack, etc.), and then tools that have a chat functionality as a side feature included such as Monday.com and Trello.
Spike is the Tool You Need to Improve All of Your Communications at Work
Whether you’re looking to optimize collaboration and creativity, need more options for engaging customers, or want to build more comprehensive and robust networks, choosing the right type of tool to help you optimize your different communication channels can make a huge difference. That’s why we designed Spike to fulfil all your communication needs—from email, to instant chat, to video conferencing and collaborative notes.
To start, one of the problems you may identify when using multiple types of communication platforms is that it can be confusing to continually switch between tools for video, email, and other types of written communication. Thankfully, Spike combines all your communications – both written and face-to-face – into a single digital workspace.
With Spike, your team can easily switch between video, chat, and email. Spike is a fully-featured email client but looks and acts like a chat tool, so it can move with extreme speed when processing your Inbox from emails with clients and colleagues.
If your toolkit includes tools like Zoom, Gmail, Slack, and Monday.com, you’ll have to continually search for what information while bouncing between apps. By unifying your team’s toolkit into Spike, you get video calls, audio calls, email, chat, Tasks/To-Dos all in a single place.
This means you can fire off an email, use instant chat to discuss lunch plans, set up a collaborative Note for your next creative project, jot down your to-do list, set up a meeting on a shared calendar, and join an afternoon video conference all from the same platform, on the same screen, and across all your devices—its genius is in its simplicity!
Regardless of whether a team is in the office or remote (or a hybrid), Spike’s digital workspace is everything your business needs for communication and collaboration. Because it’s email, it works excellent internally and externally with your clients and vendors. Email communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be complicated with the right solution.
Download Spike to find out why over 150,000 teams have switched.
The future of email is here,
are you ready for it?
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