If we were to stop for a moment and consider the ways we interact outside of work using smartphones and social media we would very quickly realise that our work communication methods are truly dated. In most small businesses I consult with, email is still the most heavily utilised and often the only method of digital communication. Contrast this to how we communicate in our personal lives and it’s a world apart. When was the last time you emailed a friend to ask a question? You probably sent them an instant message or left a message on their Facebook page. How about the last time you organised a group event? Chances are you used a Facebook group or event in favour of a group email. So why aren’t we doing this at work?
The answer is simple – because our work practices haven’t evolved in the same way. The tools we use to manage communication in our social lives are not suited to work, and the “work versions” of these tools are far less prevalent – however, they do exist. In my experience, most business owners and managers are completely unaware of tools that provide social networking features in a controlled environment. When I ask them if they’d consider social networking tools for the office, the typical response is usually along the lines of “Facebook groups would be useful, but I don’t want my staff logging on at work”. Of course this is a valid objection that I completely agree with – a social media platform is hardly the place to conduct work. There’s far too many distractions and no control over the data. So what’s the solution?
If you’ve spent any time reading our blog then you’ll know we’re huge advocates of Office 365. So it will come as no surprise that the solution I’m about to introduce is included.
The solution is Yammer
It’s a website designed to replicate the communication benefits of social media, whilst remaining professional and minimalist to suit the workplace. Unlike social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, there are no distractions or temptations to ‘keep scrolling’ and suddenly find you’ve lost an hour of work. It will also exclusively be used by employees of your business so there isn’t the opportunity for informal socialising.
However, it does still offer an extremely convenient way of communicating with fellow colleagues by using inspiration offered by such social media sites. You can embed links and share files – similar to any current communication platforms, but additionally, groups can be created to collaborate effectively, controlling who can see the shared posts and ideas. Similar to using something like Facebook Messenger, posts are also saved as a thread, so you can quickly see any you haven’t already, and recently added members can catch up on what they have missed. The entire site can be moderated, so you will always have the ability to oversee any decisions or discussions put forward by colleagues, also allowing greater fluidity of idea-sharing across the workplace. Probably the best part about Yammer is that it also comes completely free with Office 365.
Alongside all of its additional features, using Yammer as a primary communication-base will also hugely reduce clutter in your email. If all work-related discussions take place on a separate platform, then you know that anything arriving in your Inbox will be from external sources and can be prioritised accordingly. No longer will you have to worry about huge email threads created by several colleagues clicking ‘Reply All’ to respond to one person, and with the time saved deleting or sorting such messages, you’ll make your business more efficient too.