Use the right channels, the right tools, and leverage investments in mobility to communicate and collaborate effectively within your organization
We’re buried in email — it’s the simple truth. Many organizations and individuals default to email as the primary mode of communication, and it’s seen as the “work” channel. You might use text messages, instant messaging, and social media in your personal life, but “work email” is a familiar phrase and is used to describe how we get things done in the office. But technology has moved far beyond this, and what we should be doing is efficiently utilizing the appropriate modes of communication within our professional lives to reach the desired outcome with the lowest amount of effort, server load, and time. Utilizing your organization’s investment in mobility and collaboration technology can go a long way to solving this issue.
If I’m not watching my inbox like a hawk, I don’t feel like I’m working. If I leave my inbox unsupervised for even a short amount of time during the day, I feel like I’m neglecting my responsibilities. The other day I heard it referred to as “watching your inbox closer than you watch your kids”, and it hit home. The amount of time that we waste (yes, waste) checking, sending, and receiving email is astronomical. This doesn’t just strain your personal efficiency; it can also have implications on your company’s mail servers, particularly if you’re a heavy user of large attachments such as presentations.
Speaking of using attachments, this is a particular aspect of the issue that I see time and time again – individuals and teams mistakenly using email as a tool for workflow: reviewing, approving, and firing attachments of different document versions all over the place. This is not what it was meant to be! There are a ton of fantastic alternatives for managing communications and workflow. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios and solutions that can help to break apart how we communicate so that we can engage effectively.
Use the phone
Particularly with younger generations (of which I am a part), this is often not the go-to method of communication even concerning quick questions. Sending it in an email gives you the feeling that you can strike it off of your to-do list. But really, you can’t – not until you get an answer. All it does is add to the clutter and open up the potential for it to get lost either on your plate or on the plate of the individual you’re reaching out to. Mind you, hitting someone’s voicemail isn’t always the best thing either – and that’s why I love BlackBerry® Mobile Voice System for allowing me to be reached at a single number whether I’m using my desk phone or BlackBerry smartphone.
Enterprise instant messaging
I’ve come to love this over the past few months. Many organizations have enterprise instant messaging implemented internally, and even better, hooked into an employee directory. Even if I’ve never met or spoken with an individual before, I’ll often shoot over a quick IM if it’s something that can be resolved with a “yes”, “no”, or simple response. This way, even if they’re on a call, they can often multitask to give me what I need quickly, without leaving a trail of messages all over the place. These solutions often include file sharing or again, in the case of BlackBerry Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) solutions, you can one-click to start a call from an instant messaging conversation. Better yet, you can take your internal IM solution mobile on your BlackBerry smartphone by utilizing these solutions. Quick questions and quick answers follow me wherever I go, without causing pile-up in my inbox.
Centralize document storage and management
Instead of emailing documents as attachments, loading down mail servers, and running the risk of confusing versions, it’s important to centralize document storage and management. Does your organization have a solution for this? Is it mobile-friendly, and feature-rich? Microsoft® SharePoint® is an example of one that fits the bill for many companies. With the BlackBerry Client for Microsoft SharePoint, you’re able to download documents, open and edit them with Documents To Go®, and send them back up into SharePoint with full version control. The BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet browser is also a fantastic vehicle for accessing internal web apps, whether connected via Wi-Fi® or through BlackBerry® Bridge™ on your smartphone for true mobility.
BlackBerry Messenger for business
BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) isn’t just for organizing weekend BBQs with friends; it’s also a fantastic tool for mobile communication on work topics. Organizing colleagues and teams into BBM groups can help keep things clean in your contact list, and you can even send files and voice notes up to 6MB. If you don’t have access to mobile enterprise instant messaging, this is a great way to get in touch with your coworkers quickly and efficiently. Knowing when someone has received and read your message allows you to operate and communicate confidently on this platform. We use it constantly here at RIM® (I’d hope so!) and I’ve certainly felt the benefits of having quick and simplified access to everyone on my team.
Third party apps
There are a ton of collaboration and communication apps available in the BlackBerry App World™ storefront, including cross-platform apps. Figure out what works best for your particular style of work, and based on the pain points in your current communication structure, and go wild trying some of these out. Cloud storage solutions are great examples of available apps that can help make your life easier at work, especially for small businesses.
Bonus: Easy scheduling across organizations, and one-click conference calls
Worth mentioning in this type of post are Tungle.me and BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing. Tungle allows you to share your availability, and view the basic availability of others, regardless of what platform you’re using and whether or not you’re in the same organization. This is great for sales teams in particular who are working to set up appointments with external contacts. With BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing, you can save multiple conference profiles on your BlackBerry smartphone and never worry about adding in your conference details to an invite, or having to input them by hand when you’re an attendee. Just hit “Join Now” and you’re off!
The point is that there are so many more modes of communication available outside of email. Email should be used effectively and certainly holds a foundational purpose in our collaboration, but the myriad of available apps, instant messaging solutions, document management, and workflow tools shouldn’t be ignored. I’m willing to bet that you could shave off hours from your workweek by engaging in thoughtful and efficient communication in your workplace.
To find out more about BlackBerry communication and collaboration solutions, head over to www.blackberry.com/collaboration. Specifically, take a peek at the BlackBerry Client for Microsoft SharePoint, BlackBerry Mobile Voice System, and BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing.
How do you manage workflows and collaboration while on the go? What are your favorite tools, apps, or solutions? Share in the comments below.