Whether your staff are still largely remote, have returned to the office, or you’ve moved to a hybrid workplace arrangement, communication is always critical. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming number of communications options available for businesses today, which can make it extremely difficult for managers and other leaders to choose the best ways to connect with staff. And, in addition to being confusing and cumbersome, the number of digital communication options is wasting your business’s time and money.
In “The Digital Communication Crisis,” a study published by Quester and highlighted by the Harvard Business Review, researcher Erica Dhawan notes that among 2,000 office workers, more than 70% struggled with confusing digital communications with colleagues. Extrapolated to consider the broader business community, such communication snafus lead to $188 billion in waste across the American economy.
We clearly need a better solution, but what tools should we be using?
The Instant Interaction
When it comes to clear, efficient communication, your “born digital” employees and leadership know what works, and the solution to current problems lies in instant communication. From Slack or other instant messaging-style platforms, these tools have proliferated, and younger employees lean on them much more heavily than their older peers.
Just how much more do younger employees use instant messages? There’s a 60 percentage point gap between younger and older employees in this area – but trying to get older employees to learn new platforms isn’t always the best idea. You need to save your goodwill in that area for more important issues. That’s why you should consider a tool that everyone already uses instead: text messages.
The SMS Advantage
Text or SMS messaging has been around for decades and is an integral part of almost everyone’s daily communications. It’s fast, easy, and people engage with it much more regularly than other forms of communication.
In fact, only about 50% of employees regularly open internal emails, but text messages have a 98% open rate, and people open them promptly. Perhaps most importantly, though, text messages encourage people to communicate in a clear, concise manner and that cuts down on confusion.
The speed with which people attend to their text messages is another reason why SMS makes such a great professional communication tool. For example, if you need to contact your team during an emergency, you want them to know what’s going on as quickly as possible.
Many of them won’t see an email, especially if you contact them during off-hours, phone calls, even phone tree-style communications take too long, but more than 90% of people always have their phone within arms reach. Send staff a text message and they will almost certainly read it within a few minutes.
A Smart Tool For A New Work World
Hybrid work is changing how we communicate, but opting for SMS as your primary means of communication still demands some adjustment. Set boundaries around when you’ll message staff – constantly contacting them when they’re off the clock will make texting less effective simply because you’ll wear down their goodwill.
Similarly, just because you’re texting staff doesn’t mean this is a social interaction. If you aren’t the kind of workplace that uses emojis in emails, then you probably shouldn’t use them in text messages. It should be a briefer, more efficient take on email, not a reset button on your professional relationships.
During the pandemic, people regularly adopted the reminder that “this Zoom could have been an email.” Now that more people are back in the office, though, your next question may be, “could this email be a text message?” You may find that, more often than not, the answer is yes.