Always-on workplace digital communication presents big challenges for employers and employees. Here we identify the big three . . .
A lot of workers feel overwhelmed by having to operate in today’s digital world and it’s easy to see why. Digital can be relentless but it is an inevitable fact of modern working life. There is no escaping it, not for long anyway. Even employers can feel overwhelmed by the pressure to have a strong online presence that reflects and builds constantly both on the company and your personal brand.
Digital Communication Challenge 1: Always Being “On”
There are so many communications happening all of the time and on so many platforms and devices – email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Messenger, internal workplace networks… The chatter is constant and it is ubiquitous.
People are asked for more than they can give half the time,” says Tom Cassidy, EMEA trainer at Working Voices. “There are so many inputs coming into our lives in terms of social media, work digital communications and personal digital communications. In an era of lots of forms of communications, there’s a tendency for people to think they must be communicating all of the time. However, communications is not actually people’s output, what they are paid to do.”
Digital communications (comms) are supposed to assist people in getting their work done, rather than getting in the way of work, but getting the balance right can be difficult. It’s a 24/7 world that we live and work in and when the workforce is globally distributed and some colleagues or business partners work to different timescales, then it is really hard for people to switch off.
Digital Communication Challenge 2: Managing the online workload
No wonder then that people sometimes take a digital holiday, a bit of time off from the constant interaction. However, it can be easier to take time off the online social scene in your personal life than in a work context. Some emails have to be replied to. Some tweets have to be sent. But, people can choose to tone down the volume of digital communication that they reply to and initiate, focusing on the content that really matters.
Because of all this noise, it can be hard for employers and employees to establish what matters and what doesn’t. What we are all constantly told is that we have to have a digital impact, a strong online personal footprint. How do we achieve it though? A lot of people don’t know and don’t have much time to work it out. Get it wrong and you and your company could be in trouble. Do little or stick with the tried and tested and you could look out of touch.
“Companies are judged by how savvy they are with digital communications,” says Jay Rhoderick, a US trainer at Working Voices. “If they are communicating the same way they always have, then it will look like they have missed the boat. Smart brands bear that in mind.”
Digital Communication Challenge 3: Managing the online company and personal brand
The golden rule is for people to be mindful of what they say and do online so that it doesn’t conflict with their professional brand or the brand of their employer. Communications must be appropriate and consistent with the overall brand, be that brand personal or organisational.
When posting on sites such as LinkedIn, people want to make an impression, but they have to make sure it’s the right impression. And as many people have found to their cost, it’s easy to make a mistake and pay a heavy price.
“Posts are there for ever so people have to make sure they reflect who they are,” says Jennifer Logue, executive vice president and head of the training service at Working Voices.
Public digital communications are of course that – public. When posting messages or podcasts online, tweeting or sending an email, people have to bear in mind cultural and generational considerations. Always ask: “Would I be happy for my boss to see this?”