The workplace has changed significantly in the last couple of decades. Hardly anyone knows what a fax machine is, let alone how to use one. Documents are often sent to the copier via email rather than people standing around waiting in line for a turn to use it. Email is more ingrained, but less meaningful, than it was even in the early 2000s. Oh, and nearly every employee has a mobile phone – company issued or otherwise.
But while the technology has clearly changed, how people function at work has changed too. According to an OFCOM report, 96% of UK SMEs use text messaging for work. This creates the issue of BYOD, or “bring your own device”. It’s something companies of all sizes have had to manage. At one point, the most common approach to BYOD was to simply ban them. Now though, that’s not always practical and potentially counterproductive.
So, what can companies do? Embrace mobile devices and their ability to make the workplace smarter and more efficient. Here are five ways that SMS messaging benefits everyone at the office.
1. Internal Communications
Most companies have different projects, departments, or teams that need to collaborate. Sometimes the team is distributed in different locations, or working under time-sensitive conditions. Chances are, these employees are trying to coordinate themselves over email, or work using a shared resource on the cloud. The truth is though, that sometimes they may need a quick response to a question, or approval for an idea. Email is too slow and online collaboration usually isn’t real-time.
Offering your employees the option to use SMS messaging to communicate with one another can overcome many of the obstacles in the way of good teamwork. Actually, they may be using it already on personal mobiles, but a corporate solution provides more security and record keeping options for you.
Another use is to remind employees of required training. For example, in my previous job I had to take training on how to handle personal information in compliance with data protection regulations. While these sorts of training are obviously important, they are often at the bottom of the list for employees who are focused on other day-to-day tasks. Companies can use SMS reminders to make sure the employees get the training done on time. This can be especially important if the training is legally required to be compliant with regulations or standards.
HR managers and recruiters love to use SMS messaging. It’s quick and discrete for potential hires who may be working at another job. Sending a text message with an interview confirmation allows the candidate to confirm without everyone in the office hearing about it.
It’s also better than email because you know they’re guaranteed to get the message almost immediately. That’s unlike email that may sit in their inbox for hours or days without being seen – or maybe even goes to the spam folder.
Offer “letters” are even being sent via SMS messages when a candidate is successful. Then those new employees can get first-day text messages, letting them know where to check in and any other important information – directions, where to park, etc.
HR can also use it to keep employees informed of payroll deposits, policy changes or notifications, and annual leave approvals.
Who pays attention to email reminders anymore? Most of us have learned to ignore email notifications, while at the same time we’re inflicted with a Pavlovian response to SMS messages arriving. In case you don’t remember, Pavlov was a Russian scientist who conditioned dogs to respond to the sound of a metronome in the same way they responded to food.
After the conditioning, the dogs would salivate when they heard the metronome, even though no food was there. For us, that means every time we hear the sound of an SMS message arriving we look for it – even if the sound was from something else. Ok, so it’s not a perfect analogy, but the end effect is the same.
If you want your employees to make their meetings on time, send them SMS messages rather than email reminders. In addition, you can use it to send updates on meeting time changes which could save your employees hours of otherwise lost productive time.
In my previous corporate life, I worked on a very distributed campus. Sometimes meetings were a 20-minute drive away. So, if a meeting was postponed or cancelled I could lose an hour or more driving there to discover there was no meeting, then driving back to my regular office. Emails might not get people’s attention in time, but a text message would. Over the course of a year, the time saved for employees could seriously add up.
Companies can use SMS messaging to survey their employees about issues at the office. This could be anything from the menu for the annual meeting to preferences for office chairs or logo colours.
Employees that are asked for their opinion feel more valued, and generally perform better at their jobs. Surveys could be done entirely over SMS, or by providing links to mobile-friendly sites to complete the actual survey.
Most companies maintain some kind of disaster, or emergency recall, list to help if the worst happens. Rather than use a complicated call-tree that nobody really understands because it’s never used, a simple SMS broadcast to every employee could provide the same information. Only the SMS option will be much quicker. While this isn’t something most people like to think about, it’s an unfortunate necessity in our world today.
The emergency use could also be used for closures due to non-disaster reasons like a power outage, water main break, or inclement weather. The quick and guaranteed nature of SMS messaging makes it better than voice calling or email for time-sensitive issues like these.
These are just some examples of how companies are using SMS messaging in the workplace. Your business may have other ways to use it to improve communication, productivity and morale too. If you want to know more, our account managers can discuss the options and the benefits with you for your specific situation. Just start a conversation on live chat, email or phone.