By consolidating communication methods, argues Shalin Jain, organisations will reap rewards in the post-pandemic workplace.
A recent PwC remote work survey confirms what many employees and business leaders already know: there’s no going back to the pre-pandemic status quo. Most executives envision a future where employees spend some time at the office and work remotely other days in a hybrid workforce model. However, there’s little consensus yet on the optimal ratio.
The move toward a hybrid workforce has many logistical and practical implications for businesses, including in the areas of commercial real estate and training and development. But one facet that isn’t getting as much attention is the shift that’s already taken place in internal employee communication, whether for collaboration purposes or support requests.
In their pre-pandemic office routines, employees grew accustomed to conversing with each other using platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams. But when they needed support from HR or IT – to inquire about training opportunities or to ask for help with a technology problem, for example – they channelled their support requests through email. This continued when they moved to remote work.
Minimise interruptions to the conversational flow by offering support where employees are
But a bifurcated approach is inefficient, and organisations that reject it by consolidating communication on a single platform can realise important productivity, automation, and accessibility gains. Here are some of the ways consolidating communication can improve hybrid workforce efficiency.
Minimise interruptions to the conversational flow by offering support where employees are: With an email-based ticketing system, employees must log in to their work email to create an HR or IT ticket, then follow up via email to track progress or receive a resolution. That interrupts the natural flow of communication, which is now taking place on business communication platforms like Slack and Teams.
There’s no advantage to using email rather than a business communication platform for ticket resolution. Technology compatible with popular help desk and knowledge base systems and business communication platforms now make it more efficient to handle ticket resolution on one platform rather than toggling back and forth between email and Slack or Teams.
Automate with AI to deliver conversational support: As HR, IT, and training professionals know, many employee questions are routine. The questions are important to the employee and the company and must be answered promptly, but every minute staff spends responding to mundane queries is time they cannot spend on higher-level work.
AI can automate responses when a ticket is generated on Teams or Slack. It can automatically respond to frequently asked questions via a chatbot that offers answers from the company’s internal knowledge base, responding via Teams or Slack to keep the conversation in context.
So, routine queries such as ‘how do I sign up for a training programme?’ can be deflected in this way, while questions that don’t have a knowledge base answer (or employee requests for more help) are automatically escalated..
Prioritise convenience as much as content: HR and training professionals understandably focus on content quality, which is incredibly important. But it’s also crucial to keep in mind that the best content in the industry won’t help employees drive company success if they don’t access it because doing so is inconvenient. Prioritising convenient access is therefore critical.
Consolidating communication on employees’ preferred channel streamlines their access to the information. Technology that incorporates AI works within the preferred business communication platform and is compatible with the existing help desk system can also bolster compliance by creating audit trails to track responses to employee inquiries.
As HR, training, and IT professionals plan for a hybrid workforce, the evolution in how employees communicate with colleagues and support personnel must be top of mind. Those who find a way to consolidate communication channels, automate routine tasks, and provide easier access to information will be positioning their companies for success in the ‘new normal’.
About the author
Shalin Jain is CEO of HappyFox