McKinsey found that teams who are better connected can be up to 25% more productive. In addition, 80% of workers in a survey by Lexicon admitted that employee communications are a key factor in them developing trust in their employers. These and many other studies show why knowing how to choose appropriate channels for workplace communication is essential for teams.
However, it is not as easy as simply deciding to improve communication lines in the workplace. There are multiple options to choose from, each of which brings different benefits and drawbacks. This article explains all you need to know about the types of workplace communication channels you could implement and how to decide if they are right for your organisation.
Considering that 60% of companies do not have a long-term strategy for internal communications, creating one can help you gain a competitive edge from the increase in productivity and employee retention rates that come with it. Keep reading to find out about the best communication channels for businesses.
What are communication channels in the workplace?
Communication channels in the workplace are used to pass on important news and information from business leaders to team members. This keeps everyone in the loop with the latest developments, issues, opportunities and more.
These channels form part of your internal communications strategy. Effective internal connectivity has never been more important than now. When you consider the sheer numbers of employees that began remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic and may never return to the office, you can see that there is a risk of silos forming where some departments have no idea what other departments are up to. Internal comms help to prevent that from happening.
The most common internal communication channels
An intranet is like a website that is based on an internal network so that only employees of an organisation can access it. It is used to distribute secure communications within the business and as learning resources.
Emails and company newsletters
Companies can distribute information internally using regular company emails. This might include a round-up of important information, sent in a monthly newsletter, for example.
Project management tools
Apps such as Monday, Asana, Height and Trello are collaborative tools for managing projects but you can also use them for internal communication. You can employ these platforms to distribute tasks to team members, provide essential information and track the progress at the different settings.
Private messaging software
Using software like WhatsApp or Slack enables you to send private messages to individuals or groups of colleagues. Each project or department can have its own channel or group for more specific information, with larger groups for the company as a whole.
Document sharing software
Document sharing is also part of internal communications because it enables you to share important documents such as a company handbook or compliance policy. While it’s easy to share large files and documents between co-workers using apps such as Dropbox or WeTransfer, a cloud-based solution will ensure that everyone has the latest version. For example, if you want to enable directors to share important documents during virtual or hybrid board meetings, you can utilise a board portal such as iBabs.
Video conferencing software
Broadcasting internal video conferences is an effective way to impart information and company updates to staff. You can take traditional company town hall meetings online, for example, allowing remote workers to attend.
Employees can watch video conferencing live, wherever they are. This helps include those who work remotely, those who are travelling for work and those who are uncomfortable with attending large gatherings. In addition, anyone who misses the meeting when it happens can catch up later on-demand. This is also a useful archived resource for reference in the future.
Some companies share internal communication podcasts with team members, using them as a way of updating information and sharing other relevant content.
Internal company blogs
Having employees share their thoughts on various important topics related to the company’s business on an internal blog keeps everyone informed and provides opportunities for collaboration.
Employee feedback software
When employers want to gather information on the thoughts and opinions of their employees, using feedback forms and surveys is a great way of performing the task in a digital manner.
Internal social media
Enterprise social media platforms such as Facebook Workplace and Yammer bring the convenience of public social interaction to businesses.
Workplace communication channels: Comparison table
|Emails & company newsletters||
|Project management tools||
|Private messaging software||
|Document sharing software||
|Video conferencing software||
|Internal company blogs||
|Employee feedback software||
|Internal social media||
How to choose the right communication channel
1. Understand your team
The right communication channel is the one that suits your team, how they work and what you want to communicate with them, so you should first consider your prevailing company culture. Implementing a channel that is far removed from what your employees are used to could lead to friction from those who are change-averse.
2. Consider your message
If you merely want to improve your workflow, a project management tool is right for you, but for instant collaboration, you will need to pair it with a document sharing app. You may want to pick different channels for different purposes. For example, there may be one channel for company updates and another for collaborative purposes.
3. Consider the type of communication
Different types of communication are suitable for different situations. Studies show that we remember 10% of what we hear, 20% of what we read and 80% of what we see. This makes video communication particularly effective. However, audio is preferable for employees who spend their time on the road, so it is worth considering how your team works and lives when deciding how best to communicate with them.
4. Take a look at your budget
Money is always an important factor in any business decision. This will play a part in your decision-making over your internal comms strategy. Using a WhatsApp group, for example, is free for instant messages, whereas putting together your own professional-sounding podcast can come with a bill that you might not be willing to pay.
Tips for effective workplace or team communication
Have more than one channel for communication
It is unlikely that any single workplace communication channel will serve all of your needs, so be prepared to implement two or more into your strategy. You might choose to use video conferencing for major company meetings and a company newsletter for weekly updates.
Assign someone to be in charge of each communication channel
Your communication channels require management to make sure they continue to serve a purpose. You may need a moderator for internal social media or to make sure your business WhatsApp doesn’t descend into a non-business related chat thread, for instance.
Document your communication plan
Whichever types of communications channels you choose, you should create a plan for how they should (and shouldn’t) be used, how they will be maintained and what their purpose is. Otherwise, they will not be as effective and team members could be confused about where they should go to find vital information.
What’s the most effective communication channel?
The most effective communication channel is that which fits your team and style the best. This will be different for every company and depends on what you want to communicate and what you want to achieve with that information. For your business, it could be conference calls or it could be some other form of digital communication.
How do you manage internal communication channels?
The first step in managing your communication channels is to choose those channels that best fit your organisation. If you try to use all channels, you can end up not being able to keep on top of all communications and some will be updated more regularly than others, causing confusion. This can also lead to information overload for employees who don’t know which channels they should monitor most closely.
Once you have selected your channels, you must remain in control over them and not let them become full of unnecessary information that makes it more difficult for users to receive the most important updates. Nearly 35% of employees say the reason their company’s internal comms are ineffective is that important information gets buried.
Remember to check in with colleagues as part of monitoring your policy to understand how effective your channels are and how you can improve your processes.
What are the preferred channels for remote workers?
Remote teams thrive on tools such as Slack and Google Docs. These allow for collaboration and discussion even when teams are based in disparate locations. For boards that work remotely, iBabs is a board portal that allows for a consistent experience when conducting remote or hybrid board meetings. Video conferencing solutions such as Company Webcast help keep your remote team together through online events such as virtual town hall meetings, enabling them to watch a catch-up version of the meeting if they cannot attend live.
Your choice of communication channel will be dictated by the type, size, budget and culture of your organisation. By reading this article, and comparing the pros and cons of each type, we hope it will be easier for you to choose appropriate channels for workplace communication in your business.
Successful businesses formulate communication strategies that take into account what they want from their internal comms. They then choose the best-fit channels for their aspirations. If you decide to employ professional video conferencing, Company Webcast can help. We deliver thousands of high quality, secure and informative webinars every year for some of the biggest companies in the world. Request a demo for your business today.