4 internal communications tools that replace email

Email has its place, but intranets are gaining favor for fluid yet non-disruptive staff exchanges—especially helpful for telecommuters and staff in different locations. Check out these channels.

In the late 1990s, email changed the face of business and internal communications.

It emerged as a highly efficient form of communicating, and many employees came to favor firing off a quick email over placing a phone call.

Today, with all the internal communication tools available to a workforce, emailing seems almost primitive. Though many organizations still use email, most are trying to reduce the number of emails sent in favor of a simpler, more efficient form of internal communication. Employees are relying more on intranets or enterprise social networks.

Rio Rancho Public Schools has eliminated routine “all staff” emails, such as weekly school bulletin updates, by posting such important news on the intranet. (Here’s the RRPS case study.)

Though you might not be ready to eliminate every “all staff” email and all one-on-one emails, you can improve internal communications with these powerful tools:

1. Live Chat

You don’t always have time to wait for an email response. Live Chat is an essential internal communication tool to get quick answers to questions such as technical support issues, and to keep check-in conversations succinct. Live Chat lets users chat on your intranet in real time.

If your organization has several locations, stopping by a colleague’s desk won’t always work; instant collaboration is still needed, though. Live Chat streamlines such internal exchanges.

2. Project Sites

Collaboration on a project can get derailed by scheduling conflicts or not working out of the same office. Conference calls and group emails can become difficult to manage, and simply communicating via a Department Site might not work, especially for interdepartmental teams.

Many of our customers use Project Sites, which is ideal when it comes to a specific project with selected team members. It provides a dedicated workspace for the team to communicate, collaborate and share resources on, and only those in the group can see the site.

You can virtually eliminate all long meetings, conference calls and endless email chains by moving project management online into one central location. Check out our video on “Creating & Managing Project Sites.”

3. Message Boards

Message Boards is great for employees seeking advice about a certain task or other work-related questions. Message Boards enables users to converse throughout your intranet. In addition, many customers can benefit from Message Boards when top executives share company goals, vision and culture.

Download this free white paper, “Auditing your Internal Communications,” for a step-by-step guide to assess which communications channels work best for your organization.

Fluid internal communication is important, but a common concern is that the intranet will become too social and less of a business tool. With Message Boards, you can use it as an internal communication tool connecting employees or lock it down so that only managers can post messages to staff. Either way, it reduces the volume of “all staff” emails.

4. Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums provide a platform where employees can discuss topics of interest. Rather than sending multiple internal emails or holding numerous meetings, simply create a discussion topic and have employees contribute on the intranet.

This promotes a more conversational exchange, motivating employees to share their thoughts and opinions. In an email format, it’s difficult to get that “conversation” feel, and many employees may read it and not reply, or it might get lost in their inbox.

Long email threads disrupt productivity, notifying employees with every reply. With Discussion Forums you can track the conversation history and keep parties involved as needed. Employees can subscribe and unsubscribe from Discussion Forums as the conversation pertains (or doesn’t) to their work tasks and specialties.

Powerful internal communication tools

Emailing remains an important piece of the pie and is difficult to eliminate completely, but you can use these powerful tools to increase internal communication, collaboration and efficiency.

Which tools are you using? Any of those mentioned above, or others? Please share by commenting below.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Intranet Connections blog.


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