Technology to Improve Staff Communications

The article below “Technology to Improve Staff Communications” was written by Rene Zarate, CPA, ABV and published on Firm of the Future. It provides insight into strategies and tools that can help improve your accounting firm’s internal communications.

From sales and marketing to invoicing and customer relationship management, technology is changing the way firms operate. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that isn’t using some form of technology to increase productivity and efficiency.

Company and staff communication is one important area being changed by technology. In an effort to streamline workflows, track employee progress, collect internal feedback and facilitate day-to-day communication, firms are turning to technology.

Below are four technologies that firms are using to improve staff communication and employee engagement. If you’re looking to integrate technology into your company, consider the resources below and the advantages they provide.

Slack Helps Facilitate day-to-day Communication

No one likes their inbox to be inundated with emails. A crowded inbox can make prioritizing responses difficult, and with most client communication happening via email, you may overlook an important message because of the clutter.

Slack is an instant messaging software that can save your inbox and streamline staff communication. The desktop and mobile applications provide a closed platform for text messaging. Firms can create their own Slack domain and invite users into the platform. Members can communicate directly with other members individually, or in group channels for multiple team members. Additionally, Slack supports multimedia file sharing and stores all the files in a searchable repository for easy access.

One of the added benefits to Slack is that it’s easily integrated with other applications via a tool like Zapier. For instance, you can use Zapier to create an automated trigger inside Slack to send a text message anytime a Google Spreadsheet is updated. Creating automated messages inside Slack can be a useful way to track project progression and keep all team members on the same page.

If you’re looking for a way to improve daily communication at your firm, Slack is worth considering.

G Suite Enables Real-Time Collaboration

Collaboration and communication go hand in hand. If you’re looking for a better way for your teams to work together on spreadsheets, documents or presentations, then G Suite by Google might be worth looking into.

G Suite by Google is a cloud-based solution that offers users a variety of workplace apps to collaborate and communicate in real time. Because this service works in the cloud, there is no clunky IT, and software updates happen in real time.

G Suite comes equipped with many popular, free apps, including the following:

  • Google Drive: A cloud storage app that lets users easily upload, rename, organize and download documents.
  • Google Docs: An application that lets users write documents, provide notes on documents and have multiple people collaborating on a document in real-time.
  • Google Sheets: A cloud-based version of Excel that allows up-to-the-second updating and collaborating with multiple users.

G Suite even has a marketplace with hundreds of business apps that are easily integrated. If you want to improve your internal communication and collaboration, G Suite is one of the best ways to do that.

Officevibe Gives a Platform for Feedback

Communication is a two-way road, even though many firms fail to realize it. Too often, managers communicate in a top-down manner that does not allow or encourage employee feedback. The best firms understand that ideas and innovation come from within, and many times they come from front line workers.

Don’t think employee feedback can lead to change? British Airways used an online suggestion form for employees to provide ideas or recommendations. One idea was to minify toilet pipes to reduce airplane weight, an idea that generates over $900,000 in annual savings on fuel costs.

Officevibe is an employee feedback platform that allows for anonymous submissions on a weekly basis. Managers can easily see feedback, and the intuitive platform even provides data and reports so that you can compare and track the pulse of your company.

Officevibe provides a safe and secure tool for employees to provide constructive and honest feedback to management. Accounting firms that are willing to use the information collected in the weekly surveys can increase employee satisfaction, while also developing a company culture that values its members. Constructive and frequent feedback is a critical step towards improving a firm’s internal communication.

Join.Me Makes Video Conferencing a Breeze

Telecommuting, or “working from home,” is a business trend that is catching a lot of steam. Research from PGI found that 80% of remote workers reported a higher morale when working from home. Not only does telecommuting improve employee’s work-life balance, but it also can increase efficiency because of fewer distractions, save money on office expenses and meet the demands of the younger workforce that desire flexibility from their employers.

Forward-thinking firms may want to consider offering teleworking opportunities for many of the reasons mentioned above, but also because it increases the pool of available candidates for you to hire. If you are dealing with employees that are outside the office, to make communication more fluid, you can use a tool like Join.Me to easily facilitate video meetings.

Join.Me is one of the best video conferencing options out there. It’s easy to setup and users don’t have to download any software to participate on a call. Users on the conference call can share screens and switch presenters, and the technology is secure and reliable enough that you don’t have to worry about having a conference call dropped.

Video conferencing is an excellent way to maintain communication with staff members that are working outside the office. If you want to test video conferencing, Join.Me even has a freemium option.

Workplace by Facebook Could be the Future

Facebook launched its own corporate communication platform, cleverly named Workplace. It’s still young, having launched in October 2016. The Workplace interface and layout mimics Facebook so closely that your team should have a pretty low learning curve for working inside the platform.

Workplace’s features are a hybrid of several other communication tools, and its entrance into the corporate communication industry could mean trouble for competitors, such as Slack, Zoho, Hangouts and Wrike. Workplace allows your team to easily communicate and track projects in groups that can be segmented and locked for specific users.

Text messaging for business purposes is growing in popularity, and the Work Chat features allow for that, along with voice calls and video conferencing. You can even use your phone to stream video live with other coworkers. Additionally, Workplace has automated bots that can streamline tasks inside the system, saving time and resources.

If you’re an innovative company that wants to get ahead of the curve with corporate communication, then you should try the new Workplace by Facebook.

Successful accounting firms emphasize internal communication. No longer do firms have to limit their communication to emails or in-person meetings. With the growing advances in technology, firms can streamline their day-to-day communication, focus on feedback and employee satisfaction, collaborate in real time, and offer teleworking options without sacrificing quality.

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