Why internal communication tools are key to workplace productivity

Here, Richard Heyes weighs in on the need for internal communication tools and explains how they can be used help to improve productivity in your workplace.

If there’s one thing that’s always on every manager, department head or company owner’s mind, it’s workplace productivity. Your employees are integral to the success of your business; they are essential parts in what you would hope to be a well-oiled machine. But without maintenance and investment, a well-oiled machine may slow down. One of the most effective ways of increasing workplace productivity is through internal communication tools.

A lack of communication can hold up projects

It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new start-up or a FTSE 100 company, every business should have an effective internal communication system in place.

You’ve got to ensure your workforce is constantly communicating, talking and sharing ideas. A lack of communication can hold up campaigns and projects, so it’s vital to ensure your staff are all on the same page.

Slack is one of the most effective internal communication tools around. Think of it as Facebook for businesses, where employees can post useful information, share files and instant message, without the need to copy every single member of staff into an email.

It’s important to know what each member of your team is working on

Your team might run several campaigns at any one given time. It’s impossible to know what every member of your staff is doing from day to day, as most individuals switch between tasks.

Task-based tools like Teamwork can give you valuable insight into your employees’ diaries and schedule. In turn, this can help you to assess how realistic deadlines are and also give you an idea as to which departments require further support.

Internal communication tools can promote effective time management

Want to slash deadlines and boost efficiency within the office? Try incorporating an internal communication tool with a time management feature. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways of improving productivity within the workplace.

By introducing a culture of time management, you can begin to assess how long certain tasks take to complete. The benefit of this is more realistic deadlines and project timings.

If timed tasks are an alien concept to your workforce, consider an incentive for the early completion of tasks and projects. This could be an early work finish, paid lunch or work drinks.

Having all of your work documents and work in one place can save time

We’ve all been there before, you need to access an important document but the file is on someone else’s computer. That same person might be off ill or on holiday and you may have no way of contacting them.

One of the best tools that businesses can take advantage of is Google Drive. The drive is a huge online file storage system that everyone in your business can access. In turn, this can save time and make it a lot easier to locate company documents.

As a company owner, you might use it for memos, letter templates, proposals, contracts and other important documents. Google Drive has replaced the memory stick or external hard drive as a file sharing system for word-processed documents, like Excel spreadsheets.

Calendars mean your team will never miss another deadline

It can be hard to keep track of your staff’s annual leave and doctor’s appointments, which is why an integrated calendar system is so useful. But a calendar tool isn’t just handy for seeing who is and who isn’t in the office, it’s also excellent for managing project deadlines.

Most internal communication tools come with a built-in calendar, meaning you won’t have to shell out for an additional service. You can also make use of the shared calendar service from Google, which forms part of the free Google Docs system.

An internal calendar communication tool serves as a more efficient digital log that can be accessed by every member of your team. Unlike a whiteboard calendar, which can often be misplaced or erased.

If you’re in charge of an agency, you may want to consider using multiple calendars for various clients and project deadlines. Don’t forget to colour code each of your calendars and keep them in one integrated system; Google is perfect for this.

Internal communication tools are great for teams as well as clients

Meetings and conference calls aren’t always the most effective forms of communication, sometimes a simple email or message is all that’s needed.

There are a number of internal communication tools out there that allow you to communicate with both your staff and clients. Many communication tools, like Basecamp, allow you to keep all messages, memos and files in one handy thread.

Basecamp provides a clear and user-friendly database, which saves your clients from having to search through endless email chains. For instance, if you run a web design company, you may have a ‘tech’ or ‘design’ thread.

Whatever internal communication tool you choose, make sure all of your staff are familiar with it. Many of the tools above offer a short introduction once you and your team sign up.

There is nothing worse than having a confused team member who is getting lost in their own team’s communication threads or can’t access an important document.

Richard Heyes is managing director of Tecmark.

See also: 20 free apps to improve your business productivity

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