Most office communication used to be limited to in person, over email, or via a few smaller messaging platforms. But, companies like Facebook and Slack are looking to change the game. The question is: will incorporating more communication options in the workplace increase or decrease productivity?
Facebook at Work
Facebook wants to be just as prevalent at work as it is at home. So the company came up with Facebook at Work, which has been available for a little less than a year. The idea and layout is very similar to that of Facebook for personal use. And since many people already use Facebook, the familiarity may make it easier for employees to adopt.
Email can be difficult for discussion and feedback, and it lends itself better to broadcasting information to individuals or groups of people. The idea around Facebook at Work is that it opens up more lines of communication and collaboration. The Royal Bank of Scotland has experimented with Facebook at Work, and according to Techradar, Kevin Hanley who leads design says, “I think Facebook lets us communicate, discuss and solve problems that other solutions, such as email, simply can’t. We love the fact that Facebook at Work gives you the ability to opt-in to forums and groups you want to be part of rather than being on the receiving end of email distribution lists that you want to opt out of.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? Besides serving as an open forum, it can also help unite global teams.
But, we all know Facebook can be very distracting, so should it have a spot in the workplace? Transforming the social network to a professional network may prove difficult. After all, scrolling through the newsfeed can eat up time, but in the case of Facebook at Work, it will all be work-related content. Getting messages from colleagues, status updates from managers, images and more could benefit employees and companies.
Whether or not it will be productive, there is still a concern for security, but Facebook says, “We have dozens of teams working around the clock to keep your information safe. Your connection to Facebook is protected with the same kind of strong encryption technology that banks use to keep financial data secure.”
Slack is another workplace interaction platform that has become increasingly popular as it currently has 3 million daily active users. Unlike Facebook at Work, Slack focuses on messaging with the option for private messages between colleagues or through different channels (group messages) that individuals can opt to join. The overall goal of Slack is to emphasize transparency and collaboration with real-time communication.
Another helpful thing about Slack is that it can sync across devices, making it easy to respond to messages from your smartphone. And, it adds a spirited touch to company culture with options for reaction buttons and gifs. Despite these fun additions, Slack’s own surveys conclude that the use of the platform leads to 32% more productivity and 50% fewer emails.
Will work communication change for good?
It can be assumed that email won’t go away, and it will probably remain the primary way to communicate at work for many years to come. However, it’s clear that the work environment is adopting new ways to interact and collaborate.