You probably can’t imagine your typical working day without using online tools. Let’s admit it, we all depend on apps and technology to some extent. As the last two years have been all about remote, companies rely on different types of applications even more. This article will shed some light on the relationship between productivity, apps, and the impact of effective communication.
1. What is productivity in business? Is it always about hours spent on tasks?
2. What is effective communication?
3. Maintain focus. Not all tools will serve you.
4. How wisely choose online applications for a workplace?
Before we jump to numbers, let's define what productivity is in a work environment. In general, productivity is understood as the total effort versus the total effect. Companies use different metrics to calculate the productivity rate depending on the industry. Still, the general rule is always the same - it's the comparison of the time and materials employees spend on delivering certain products, solutions, or outcomes in a given period.
To fully understand productivity at work, we need to consider factors that affect it. One that has the most noticeable impact on how smooth the workflow goes is communication. Fostering better communication habits in business results in knowledge-sharing, faster problem solving and setting clear goals. It helps to manage day-to-day tasks without friction and keeps employees focused.
Is it enough to be an empathetic listener who asks relevant questions? Offline, that might be a great foundation. But good communication skills are not enough when we entrust sending and receiving verbal and visual signals to the internet and technology. Effective online communication depends not only on our abilities to convey a message but also on the software we use. Imagine a situation when a speaker has it all - from maintaining eye contact to sending nonverbal signals (gestures and body language), but the screen freezes, and interlocutors are nothing but confused. Good communication is clear communication. It's that simple.
When we lead conversation without disruptions, it's easier to avoid misunderstandings, maintain better relationships, get things done effectively and receive immediate feedback. The list of the benefits is definitely longer and all of them contribute to increased productivity in a workplace.
Often underestimated, nonverbal communication significantly impacts how a person you talk to interprets the information. A researcher, Albert Mehrabian, was the first to break down and describe the proportion between the components of a face-to-face conversation. He found out that 55% of the message is conveyed by body language, 38% by a tone of voice. It leaves only 7% for words. Now, "this could have been an email" doesn't make as much sense. In light of the scientific proof, video meetings seem to be the best option to improve communication at the workplace.
But what does effective communication have to do with the tools you use at work? Count how many apps you use each day and keep this number in mind.
Finances, marketing, sales, HR, IT, design, customer service - each department has at least tens of dedicated online tools available. From CRMs, time management apps, to software checking on the mood of employees... The market's diversity encourages looking for new, better, and more user-friendly solutions. Some companies decide to develop their own dedicated solutions.
But what happens when there are too many apps in the organization? Several reports from recent research revealed interesting observations.
According to 2021 research, almost 44,3% of surveyed employees stated that the excessive number of tools makes their work more complicated. It might be counterintuitive as almost every app promises to change the workplace for the better. In the same study, respondents stated that the greatest productivity drops in the workplace are caused by having too many tools (42.7%) and receiving too many notifications (26.7%).
Most people got used to ignoring single notifications, but pop-ups appearing on the screen every minute while trying to focus on your tasks can ruin your workflow for the rest of the day. Before you decide on implementing a new app, check if you can turn off notifications in settings. This often underestimated feature may indirectly increase productivity at your workplace. Even if it saves only a few minutes every day, it will pay off in the long run.
Have you ever wanted to finish your task quickly, but it wasn't possible because your team member, who has unique expertise, didn't reply to your message? You are not alone. Employees surveyed by Panopto reported that they spent 5 hours a week waiting for their colleagues to share their knowledge.
Communicating effectively is also essential in maintaining relationships outside the organization. According to 2022 customer service trends report, clients prefer to have real conversations with customer service over written communication. No wonder! It's great to see that the person on the other side of the screen is paying attention to what you say.
Online tools and applications are often based on the SaaS business model. You can easily subscribe by adding card details, choose a plan that suits you best, resign anytime. They don't cost a fortune, making it easy to pay another 10€ or 15€ for improved workflow. These relatively low costs and ease of purchase sometimes lead to collecting a pile of icons on your desktop and numbers of plug-ins you don't even use.
In fact, 29% of the budget spent on software is wasted. Some tools are not used, or they are not fulfilling expectations. Maybe it's worth checking your account balance at the end of the month? Probably several applications you use can be replaced by new solutions combining all features in one, for a better price.
Let's sum up key takeaways from the research:
To make it clear: we want you to stay positive about online tools! Just be aware that the key to success is to choose them wisely, keeping in mind your professional objectives.
Implementing new solutions in an organization is a process and doesn't happen overnight. Before choosing a new app for the workplace, one of the essential steps is communicating the need for change. Everyone has a different ability to adjust to innovation. Make it easier for your team and communicate your plans!
So what exactly should you consider while choosing an app for you and your coworkers? We'll break that down on the example of customer communication tools.
Most of the tools that help you communicate effectively with your clients have the feature list available on their website. Before you even think of the prices, map your needs. What does it take to serve your clients best?
At this point, you will see differences in providers' approaches: some of them are fully transparent listing all the features, some want you to schedule a demo first.
Tip: always check if the tool allows integrations with other applications! It accelerates the onboarding process, data transmission and makes it possible to automate repetitive tasks.
If buying your new software takes three minutes and implementing it takes three months...reconsider your choice. If fact, tools that require advanced technical knowledge to be implemented often wait for installation for ages.
If you need to hire or engage your IT team to implement an application, the cost will increase immediately.
As we're talking about customer communication applications, we have to consider your audiences' preferences. We already mentioned how important it is to allow them to communicate via video, see your facial expressions, and hear your voice. Among all these important things related to great customer service, there is one more - accessibility.
Some solutions tend to overwhelm customers with complexity. Make sure the app you chose doesn't require installation. Why is that so important? Think of yourself - how often do you buy things online on the go, pay bills while you stack in traffic, make reservations waiting for your coffee? Almost all these actions that may require customer support are done via mobile devices. The installation often disengages clients and makes them resign from contact or even a purchase.
This one is not that easy to answer. Go back to the list of your requirements and compare providers' prices. At first glance, multifunctional platforms seem like the best choice. But if you want to take your customer support to the next level, why pay for the onboarding tours feature when your company doesn't even deliver software...?
On the other hand, the cheapest solutions are not all-in-one. You can subscribe to one app that allows scheduling meetings on your side, a second that covers live chat, a third that helps you manage your customers, fourth for 1:1 video meetings... By the end of the day, you are over the budget, and your team is fed up with switching between several tabs. Now you know how to find a perfect tool for you. By understanding the relationship between keeping your team productive and maintaining effective communication in the context of online tools, you can bring balance into your organization and foster long-lasting customer relationships.