How Can CIOs Keep Workers In Touch With Each Other?

Finding the right tool can be hard to do
Finding the right tool can be hard to do Image Credit: Darren Wood

As the company’s CIO, you have a responsibility to make sure that the company’s employees are equipped to be as productive as possible. A key part of this productivity is to make sure that employees can communicate with each other. No matter if they are working on the next customer proposal or if they are just trying to determine where they want to go out to lunch today, tools that help them to exchange information are critical. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this, what is the best way?

The Problem With Slack

Just in case you didn’t know it, Slack is a very popular piece of software that a lot of companies use to connect their employees to each other. Unfortunately at many companies there is a rite of passage called “drowning in Slack messages”. At many companies Slack, the ubiquitous business communications platform, is the main way to connect with new colleagues. Slack has a signature mix of round-the-clock banter, GIFs, updates about serious work projects and small talk. It can easily take over an employee’s life. It is tempting to be there all the time.

Since Slack’s platform made its debut in 8 years ago, it’s helped cement instant messaging as an essential part of white-collar work. But many workers found that it replaced email, never a beloved technology itself, with something that was even more distracting. Use of Slack and other collaboration platforms like Microsoft’s Teams and Facebook’s Workplace soared during the pandemic. The average time that Slack users were active on the platform jumped to about 120 minutes a day from about 85 minutes. Microsoft Teams found a 72% increase in instant messages. Still, some CIOs are trying to push back on the constant chat trend, by reducing, or even eliminating, the expectation to have any live chats and calls in the average workday. There are simply too many messages. The buzzword that is being used for this new way to communicate in these workplaces is asynchronous. Asynchronous communication refers to chats that do not happen in real time. It can include annotated documents, posting on message threads that don’t send notifications for every update, and, yes, even good old-fashioned email. Synchronous modern communication is what refers to the rest: video calls, phone calls, chat apps and face-to-face conversation.

A Different Way To Communicate

CIOs need to understand that asynchronous teamwork also requires some individual changes. Employees need to get use to communicating deadlines well in advance. They also have to not expect colleagues who may be spread across countries to be online at the same time. It turns out that Slack can be used asynchronously. This would be if a company’s culture accommodates slow response times. CIOs understand that this rarely happens in practice. The median response time for Slack users was 16.3 minutes. For emails, the median response time was 72 minutes. Slack has a number of features that make notifications more manageable. These include the option to be notified only if people tag your name and also a do-not-disturb mode.

Whatever a CIO’s messaging platform of choice is, making the workplace asynchronous-first involves deliberate choices at every step. One way to go about doing this is to have employees write things out instead of defaulting to meetings. These developments aside, there are still some obvious uses for real-time communication, such as personnel disputes, tense work emergencies and deadlines, not to mention hilarious observations that have a short shelf life. CIOs may find it hard to imagine their company eliminating it altogether. The key for CIOs is to be thoughtful about chat boundaries. Communication apps are not inherently problematic, but CIOs need to help their workers be more deliberate about incorporating them into their workday. One way to go about doing this is to have everyone put everything on a calendar, not just meetings – even times in a day when they can check their Slack messages.

What All Of This Means For You

Communication between workers at a company is a key to enhancing the company’s productivity. CIOs are responsible for identifying and providing employees with the tools that they will need in order to be able to communicate with each other. The challenge that CIOs are facing is that there are a lot of different tools out there. Which one is the right one for the workers at their company to be using?

One of the most popular inter-work communication tools is a tool called Slack. This popular tool allows workers to set up meeting and exchange information. However, it has the disadvantage of being “always on” and can quickly become a big distraction and a time waster. CIOs need to understand that they have alternatives. If they want to, they can create asynchronous communication solutions that don’t require workers to always be at their laptop waiting for the next incoming message.

The key is to make the inter-office communication system match how the company is being run. If the CIO wants to provide workers with a more relaxed environment where they can feel less stressed, then they need to take a careful look at the tools that they will be providing their workers with. The tools need to match the work environment.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: In what situations would Slack be the right tool to enable employee connections?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In order to be an effective CIO you need to have a good understanding of how your employees are currently feeling. This can be a tricky thing to determine. Traditionally what most CIOs have done is to create a survey and then send it out to have their employees fill it out. However, this has always had mixed results. The good news for CIOs is that we are now living in modern times and if we want to find out how our employees are feeling we have different ways to go about doing this.