1st March 2022
by Charlotte Wilson
In today’s always switched-on world there are now many different ways to communicate with co-workers throughout the day.
But, which channel is best for which type of message?
Should direct requests always be sent via email and ideas shared in a group chat? Is feedback something that should always be done face to face? With so many options, and with so many of us taking on a hybrid way of working between home and the office, it’s hard to know which channel to choose, and when.
Let’s face it, the last thing you want is to be the topic of a Slack private group message because you contacted a client on WhatsApp, or you emailed the X-Rated office party photos to your entire address book.
To save you some confusion (and potential embarrassment) here’s our go-to guide…
When to use: for gathering feedback, sharing work schedules, sharing initial ideas and addressing non-urgent issues
When not use: if you’re feeling too sad, too happy, or too angry. Why? Because emails last forever and moods don’t. Plus, the tone is always hard to read in an email. So, if you’re feeling any type of emotion that’s at risk of rearing its head in your inbox, opt for another channel instead. Trust us, your future self will thank you for it.
Email is a type of communication that sets the expectation that a response isn’t needed immediately. It gives the recipient time to process, think and plan a measured or appropriate response and it gives the sender space to lay out their thoughts in a coherent and comprehensive way. Emails are a reference, and essentially, a briefing document, and should be treated with care and due diligence. If you do receive an ‘urgent’ email with those angry-looking red flags in the subject box, approach with caution and pop a kalms tablet (or two) before you open it.
When to use: for generating company culture, utilising creative collaboration and sharing in-context updates
When not to use: if you have anything official, sensitive, or serious to share, don’t write it in an instant message chat. Instead, use the chat to set up a call or face to face meeting to avoid seeming disingenuous.
Messaging platforms like Slack are very popular amongst teams, especially those working remotely. The instant nature of the chat helps workers to feel less isolated and encourages a digital office banter that keeps colleagues connected. Additionally, instant chats are great for discussing ongoing projects and generating inspiration for creative projects as comments, files and images are easily, and quickly, shared between teammates.
Phone or Video call
When to use: for urgent and emergency problem solving, sharing important or sensitive information and last-minute changes
When not use: when it quite clearly COULD HAVE BEEN AN EMAIL.
It’s true, we have become a generation who really don’t like picking up the phone to actually speak to each other. However, there are valid reasons for this. People are busy and phone or video calls include pleasantries and chit chat that’s not always conducive to getting stuff done. On the flip side, it’s these elements that are sometimes necessary when conveying complex ideas or having difficult conversations. This is because voice or visual communications offer the benefit of tonal cues between callers, removing any unnecessary miscommunication. It’s a fine line, but as a general rule, if it’s too complicated to write in an email, then you probably do need to pick up the phone or schedule a Teams call.
Face to Face
When to use: to kick-off a professional relationship, when discussing highly sensitive information, when communicating difficult feedback or when working on a highly demanding or creative concept
When not to use: if a face-to-face meeting is going to cost more in time, travel, and stress than it is in delivering real value for all participants, then simply don’t do it. You literally have a myriad of different channels at your disposal to communicate with, so when it comes to demanding someone’s physical presence, make sure you really do need them in the room first place.
Productive meetings can help iron out complex problems and encourage on-the-spot inspiration, innovation, and collaboration. Meetings are also great for developing rapport and communicating important performance feedback. Not all meetings are effective, however – and knowing the difference is the key to leading a successful meeting rather than being resented for organising an unnecessary one.
Whichever type of communication channel you choose to communicate with will always depend on a number of factors. Many of which may be out of your control. However, by understanding the true benefits of each one we can all help to make the working week just a little more communication friendly, amiright?
If you’d like to communicate your latest project to us, feel free to use your favourite channel to get in touch we’d love to hear from you!