By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Agile companies are always evolving; they adapt to meet new challenges with flexibility and ingenuity. Quickness is a core trait of every agile business, but quickness only comes from crystal-clear communication. Everyone needs to be on the same page. The problem is, not everyone is in the same place, and agility means employees are always in motion. To stay fast on their feet, agile companies need to invest in online communication tools.
What are online communication tools?
Online communication tools are everyday programs, apps, and technologies most offices already use—only cloud-hosted. There’s significance to the “cloud-hosted” aspect. This is where agile companies truly benefit, since cloud-hosted programs come with certain inherent advantages.
First, online communication tools are platform and device agnostic. It doesn’t matter if you have an office full of identical workstations or a workforce divided between Mac vs. PC, laptop vs. tablet. Second, they’re real-time modes of communication. No more emails in limbo or documents stored on someone’s hard drive. Finally, there’s connectivity in the cloud. Just about any online app your team uses will integrate with every other, using the cloud as a buffer.
Online communication tools match the level of flexibility and dependability agile companies expect from their operations. In the same way we’ve taken workers out of cubicles and data out of silos, online tools put communication on a modern plane.
Decentralized teams need to collaborate
Agile companies leverage close-knit teams to accomplish tasks quickly. But the odds every team member is in proximity to every other are slim. Instead, they rely on online team communication tools to stay connected across different schedules and locations. Steve and Becky can chat via Slack regardless of their different time zones. Tom and Kayla can track changes in a shared document despite working opposite shifts. Even though they’re not in the same place, decentralized teams collaborate flawlessly thanks to cloud-based apps and tools. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute, which fulfills the simplest concept of what makes teams successful.
Dynamic work environments change hourly
Web based communication tools offer real-time benefits. The workplace might not look the same in an hour as it does right now, and it’s different than it was an hour ago. This level of agility means teams need to work together just as quickly, in spite of changing variables. Bailey needs to book a conference room via her wayfinding app and make sure Nick gets a meeting request right away. Online connectivity means this all happens in seconds, rather than the minutes or hours it takes to send emails, get confirmations, and manually book a conference room.
Nontraditional work schedules make sense
Abby works 9-5 every day. Chandler works 7-12, then goes home to work 4-7. Dave works from home and is loosely available from 8-8 every day. They all need to communicate despite their oddball schedules. How do they do it? Online communication apps like Slack and Zoom, which help them share their ideas and collaborate on concepts as if they were all 9-5, sitting right next to each other. Even when they’re on-the-go, these same technologies work on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones. They communicate as a group, without compromising their schedules, and maintain their agility as a result.
Organized communication creates clarity
Online tools bring new benefits to traditional communication. Think about email or phone calls. It’s easy to delete an email or for one to get lost in the ether, stuck in a spam folder. On the phone, you might mishear the speaker or have a poor connection. You’re left in a communication quagmire with missed details, poor information, and uncertain expectations. This is where communication in the cloud triumphs. Messaging apps archive the complete conversation and organize by topic. Video communication apps use low latency technology to deliver crystal-clear video and sound. Online file sharing apps back everything up thrice. It’s all clear, organized, and accessible, so teams can communicate quickly.
Business is in the cloud; communication should be too
Think about how much of business today lives in the cloud. Why not communication, too? As more and more of the workplace becomes digital, the way employees communicate with each other also needs to migrate.
We replaced snail mail with faxes, faxes with email, and now, email with online communication tools. The trend is clear—as the speed of business adapts, so too must our ability to communicate. The ability of agile companies to adapt depends on communication that’s just as quick, organized, and accessible.