Good communication tools help employees and managers to get their work done according to time and budget, as they are able to soundly relay their objectives, through written and verbal means, and impart their task objectives in concise manners.
To aid business communication between employees, managers and customers, an array of tools such as intranets, apps, emails and video calls, are now at the disposal of businesses.
As technology builds further, new forms of communication develop, essential for the success of an online business.
What is business communication?
Under effective business communication, the intended message by managers or employees is clear and well-understood by the intended audience.
Business communication that takes place today, is instantaneous, thanks to laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Effective communication involves feedback and a constant flow of information, for the attainment of goals and objectives.
There are various types of business communication that takes place in an organisation.
Upward communication is the flow of information from the subordinates to superiors, which makes sure that organisational grievances, productivity suggestions, feedback, and many more topics are heard by the management.
How else would employees be able to communicate and address concerns to the management?
Downward communication is exchange of information from top to bottom, ie., from superiors to subordinates. This includes transmitting of instructions, decisions, obtaining feedback, providing motivation, among other things.
Horizontal communication is the flow of information from and to people of similar ranking in an organisation.
External communication is when employees communicate with customers, shareholders, competitors and other external entities.
Now that we know what business communication is, let’s focus our energies into online communication of ideas, feedback and decisions.
Online Communication Tools
In today’s world, your staff might be scattered all over the globe, with various departments operating from different countries, catering to customers far and beyond.
Time is of the essence to any business, and meetings need to be coordinated in a way, such that the information is economically imparted to the necessary parties.
Communication between employees, in some organisations, needs to be direct, as a strict hierarchy of management is not necessarily followed by some organisations.
In such a scenario, we look towards online communication tools and services.
Some organisations forego the ‘brick and mortar’ way of conducting business, doing majority or even all their business online.
This is so because setting up business online has become relatively convenient and inexpensive, with fairly efficient way of marketing products found on the interwebs.
Here are some online communication tools that you, as a business owner, can use to improve your online business communication.
Slack is an online communication tool that aims to cover all aspect of a workplace, such as kicking off a project, over-viewing hiring process, reviewing business performance, and so on.
It’s a shared workplace, where employees can directly messages each other, or can be included in a channel, with each conversation and project work archived and organized neatly.
You can also integrate productivity tools and applications (Trello, Google Drive, Dropbox etc.) with Slack, such that conversations in linked apps can be viewed at one place.
All information about a particular topic is presented in a timely manner within a channel, which is viewable by teams. These teams can be divided on the basis of their departments, clients, skills etc.
When a new employee is added into a particular channel, he/she can view the past activities on the channels, to stay upto date with all previous happenings.
Team members can also engage in video calls, which is a substitute for in-office meetings, especially when the team members are scattered all around the globe.
As a business owner, you can conduct calls with one or all of your team members, to stay updated on their work progress and to answer their queries.
2. Cisco WebEx
Superior quality video/audio conferencing, wide array of file-sharing abilities, and an omnipresent mobile presence.
This tool makes sure that work happens anywhere, anytime.
You can set up personal meeting rooms within Cisco WebEx, wherein you can send your web address to people you want to connect with.
It is also possible to set up events using WebEx, where groups of 100 to 3000 can connect simultaneously, with multiple presenters broadcasting information.
Cisco WebEx also has the ability to arrange for online training centres, where you can participate in lectures and also interact with others using response tools.
A cloud-based service, that allows you to store your documents, sync up your data with all your devices, and share your documents with your co-workers. Dropbox lets members make changes to shared documents on-the-go.
You can save files to the Dropbox website, and also through its desktop application.
This feature greatly distinguishes Dropbox from Google Drive, as Google Drive users can only share files through the web application.
Dropbox supports operating systems such as Mac OS, Windows and Linux.
Launched in 2016, users can also take advantage of Dropbox Paper to create documents, indulge in real-time conversations and to share and edit images, videos, sounds and codes.
With Dropbox, you are able to view the latest version of all your documents, as the files are synced up across all your devices regularly.
In the event that your device is lost or your computer stops working, since your files are backed up in the Dropbox website, all your data remains to be protected.
A basic Dropbox account is free and gives 2 GB of space to its users.
Dropbox Plus, Professional and Business are paid subscriptions that provide more space and added features.
Imagine having all your to-do tasks written in the form of cards, which are movable in an interactive manner on an online board. Trello, a free online communication app, allows you to do this and much more.
After the setting up of a Trello board, you can add members from your team to cards, to assign them with work. After the members are added to a card, they will receive notifications and would start work on their assigned tasks.
Added members can also write status updates on cards, to share their progress with their managers. Members of the team of the Trello board can also subscribe to lists or to the Trello board itself.
Managers can be informed via notifications, when the due dates are marked as done/completed by the members.
You can pinpoint a member using @mention in a comment, and/or you can mention an entire board or card using @board and @card.
Trello offers packages such as the Business Class costing $9.99 per user/per month and the Enterprise costing $20.83 or less per user/per month, when paid annually.
With Evernote, teams can make notes in the form of links, checklists, tables, attachments, and audio clippings.
These notes can then be formed into notebooks with all information viewed and edited by team members. Use Evernote from the beginning of each project, to jot down important details of meetings and to note progress in assigned tasks.
You can pen your ideas from your connected devices and keep related data together with the help of stacks.
With Evernote, you can share notebooks and notes with your peers for work collaboration. You can also view your notes offline, when you have low or no internet connection.
Link internet articles with your notes and notebooks, which sync across all your devices for offline viewing.
It is a tool for arranging your daily work, and to keep track of your projects since their conception.
6. Skype for Business
With Skype for Business, you can conduct meetings for up to 250 people.
Facilitating real-time collaboration between participants, your team members will be able to record meetings, share their screens, partake in Q&A sessions, polls and also directly message one or more participants.
Skype for Business is one of the paid online communication tools that make sure that the quality of the video calls are High Definition.
This tool ensures that you look at your sharpest during meeting calls, by including features such as head tracking and auto-cropping.
You can also mute one or more participants, and give control of conducting presentation to one participant, to make sure that the meeting is driven into the correct direction.
Skype for Business allows you to integrate your work with Office apps, and also permits the use of a shareable whiteboard during meeting calls.
Are there new tools we don’t know of? We’d love to hear. Share them with us in the comments section below.
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