This article is continuation of part VII. Today, emails are a company’s communication medium. Whether internally with colleagues or externally with the customer – most correspondence nowadays takes place via e-mail. An email is a general-purpose tool. On the one hand, you can use corporate mail guidelines to write official e-mails in which you can use prefabricated signatures, fonts and greetings. At the same time, e-mails can also be sent with short content such as “Ok, thank you” – but this is usually only done within the company. In today’s world, in which every employee has a smartphone, they can conveniently read and answer their e-mails while on the move and are therefore not overwhelmed by hundreds of e-mails when they sit down at their workplace. Apart from the pure correspondence, it is also possible to send pictures, documents or other files with the e-mail. So it’s no wonder that after more than 40 years, email is still a popular means of communication.
According to a study by Harvard University, email is always the most effective way of working with colleagues. This study also shows that 11% of the respondents use a mobile device to access and read their emails. This is a logical step in the course of digitization, in which you can access documents and e-mails from anywhere. It is also interesting that 16% of those surveyed work from home. A flexible job and a flexible infrastructure can be derived from this because it requires a high level of security measures so that an employee can access the company network from home.
As can be seen in Figure 15, most of the respondents in the aforementioned study use email to exchange files. This requires a dynamic infrastructure, however, since emails with large attachments require a lot of storage space and network bandwidth, depending on the size of the company. As already indicated at the beginning, e-mails are also very suitable for distributing knowledge and information. 69% of the respondents stated that they sent e-mails to groups to provide this information. Furthermore, e-mail is still the most popular means of collaboration, precisely because it is independent of time and place. This enables colleagues from different time zones to communicate with one another without any problems.
But with the advancement of technology, more and more user needs come. Many do not want to write an e-mail for every little thing, which then unnecessarily fills the recipient’s inbox. Many companies are therefore introducing small, lean chat tools, the sole purpose of which is to operate instant messaging. Instant messaging is the direct, informal conversation between at least two participants who are online at the same time. Often, a quick chat is easier than writing an email or making a phone call.
When it comes to collaboration in companies, the telephone as a communication medium is used alongside e-mail. Just like e-mail, telephony is an old hand in the world of communications technology. But especially when it comes to important decisions, a phone call is usually more profitable than an email.
In addition to the classic telephone conference and the popular video conference, thanks to digitalization, there are more and more opportunities for employees to work together. Since almost every employee now has a smartphone, companies have many options to enable their employees to interact and collaborate. This can take the form of wikis, for example, in which employees can share and exchange their knowledge. Wikis help to pass on knowledge and information and, because of their structure, are quite easy to use. Furthermore, wikis consume comparatively few resources, which is why they are an inexpensive way of collaboration.
Companies can also set up their internal social media. There, users can post and share interesting news, as well as follow certain topics to always be up to date. Users can create workgroups in social media and plan projects there, assign tasks and manage documents. This creates transparency that both management and the employees themselves are happy to see.
The people interviewed in the aforementioned Harvard study consider the direct e-mail to the relevant colleague to be the most effective. This can be explained by the fact that if one is written to as a group, one does not feel addressed directly and thus does not see the need to answer the person.
It is also important for optimal collaboration that employees can exchange files with one another. This can be done, for example, by e-mail or via an SFT server. However, it is becoming increasingly popular to save documents in the cloud so that they can be accessed simultaneously.
Microsoft’s Office365, a very good example of SaaS, allows the complete creation, editing and sharing of documents via web interface – the user does not have to download any software to be able to work. Word 2020 or Google Docs now even allow two or more people to work on the same document simultaneously. The respective program recognizes which user is currently processing which part and either freezes it for the others or shows the change in real-time. This prevents you from getting in each other’s way while working together.
Another criterion for the optimal cooperation of the employees is the cooperation of the systems. Office365 already enables this because all the applications it contains can communicate with one another. For example, an Excel table can be integrated with PowerPoint and the employee’s Skype status is visible in Outlook. Furthermore, since Windows 10 there has been the possibility to use the Office365 applications independently of the end device. This means that as long as the smartphone, tablet or computer uses the Windows 10 operating system, the user experience is almost identical. Devices with other operating systems can of course still be used.
Opportunities for employees to exchange ideas and interact are of great importance in connection with employee satisfaction and thus also with employee productivity. Continued in next part.