Two noticeable advancements have changed the way we think of and address internal communication. First, companies place greater value on employee feedback, collaboration and idea-sharing. Second, technology makes working remotely and collaborating across different places and platforms easier. Whether a startup or a larger corporation, internal communication has changed and will likely continue to change as technology and leaders evolve.
1. File sharing and collaboration
Dropbox, the cloud, Google Drive and other applications have made file sharing and online collaboration much easier for teams. What used to take a meeting or five can now be accomplished online. No need to schedule meetings or email drafts back and forth across the server, losing track of versions or who is responsible for what task. Now, teams can send a link to the same document, often working simultaneously, and accomplish more. Employees will often feel more appreciation for their time and pride in their work this way.
"Smartphones and tablets, social media, and rapidly evolving consumer online destinations have raised the bar for how we expect to communicate, consume and share information at work. Some of the most effective organizations have implemented programs that borrow from these consumer web services," says Scott Cotter, CMO of inxpo.com. "Many firms are finding success with video portals that offer channels, playlists, viewer feedback and ratings. Sound familiar? It's because this approach is proven by Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and others. And when coupled with features borrowed from social media, it fosters engagement and community that is the end goal of most internal comms programs."
Feedback is no longer confined to yearly or quarterly reviews anymore. Feedback among employees and with their supervisors happens in real-time. New tools for collecting employee suggestions and complaints, anonymously or otherwise, are popping up every day. Some companies use internal social channels to gauge employee satisfaction. Many supervisors still have an open door policy, whether it's in person or virtual, and sincerely welcome positive comments and critical suggestions. Whether or not an organization is truly flat, hierarchies are less extreme and employees find it easier to address a situation with their supervisor or teammates.
3. Professional development
Constant upgrades and advancements in technology means employees need continuous training on these tools. In addition, education and certifications are highly valued both among employees and employers. Professionals are looking to stay relevant and learn new skills, or they'll find a different job where they are challenged and trained. Companies are placing more value on training and retaining staff by establishing a professional development budget, offering time off for education, or setting up in-house training on new tools and concepts. Otherwise employers will be back at the beginning, searching qualified candidates to fill roles.
4. Remote working and flexible hours
In the same way that companies recognize the need for feedback and professional development, they're noticing the value of flexible hours and remote working. With technology keeping teams together, there are fewer reasons for employees to physically meet in the same place.
"Today technological developments are enabling small businesses and start-ups to work outside the traditional brick or mortar structures," says Timothy Hillert, CEO of Benxchange. "We are seeing that many of these companies are able to attract employees in remote locations and maintain strong connections with all members/employees when communicating or working on projects/tasks for clients." The ability to have staff working all over the country or world creates a larger, highly qualified pool of candidates. A more diverse workforce improves production, innovation and communication.