Have you ever looked at a string of emails and said to yourself, “This should’ve been a phone call?”
Of course, you have. We all have.
Over-reliance on email has become a real problem in the workplace. We’ve somehow decided it’s socially acceptable to have real-time conversations there, and the result is not good. We get a bloated inbox where important information is hard to find, and we spend hours every week trying to manage it all.
And if you are hunting for a document someone sent you – a time sheet or a sales report, for instance – you might go through several threads before finding the right version. It’s enough to drive anyone nuts.
A search-driven SharePoint intranet, along with other Office 365 applications, can help you reduce email chatter by moving conversations to more appropriate places. It can also help you centralize communication with the entire staff, creating one source for accessing documents and information. For a checklist of how to effectively plan and prepare for the design or improvement of your existing company intranet, download the Intranet Planning Checklist.
Chatting With Yammer and Microsoft Teams
For years, Yammer has been a primary social networking app within Office 365, allowing easy peer-to-peer chat within SharePoint.
You can create channels to organize conversations around teams or topics, which makes it easy to search for information even months later. You can also see a list of documents you’ve shared with person or team. Whenever you start a new conversation, a SharePoint site collection is created where all the shared documents will be stored. You can comment on individual Yammer posts, as well, enabling you to chat about multiple topics at the same time.
Microsoft Teams is taking on greater importance as a primary communication tool in Office 365, and some people speculate it will replace Yammer in the future. Teams is especially useful for collaborating with team members using real-time, fast-paced communications, and shared access to files and tools. Using Yammer and Microsoft Teams, you can also control who sees your conversations and set permissions for certain actions, like inviting new people into the discussion.
Video Conferencing with Skype For Business
When working with a virtual team, video conferencing creates a more intimate environment. It delivers essential face-to-face communication that’s missing in so many office interactions.
Using Skype for Business you can have a visual conversation with a click of a button, and bring many people into the discussion. This makes group conversations easier, not only compared to email but also real-time chat. When someone misses a call and wants to revisit the discussion later – they can access a recording of the stream or a transcript of conversation.
Document Management and Company News
When digging for a file in your inbox, you need to search through different emails and find the version you need, which is a pain.
Using SharePoint, you can enable version control on a document library and see all versions of a file in one place. You can also create shortcuts by adding the most popular documents directly to the dashboard, eliminating the need to navigate to find them.
Another important way to reduce social chatter is by publishing company news on the intranet. When people are emailing back and forth a lot, it’s often to get to the bottom of a topic that could easily be addressed with a company-wide message on the homepage. Likewise, when you need to share reports, apps like Power BI make it easy to present data using compelling visuals.
Automating Processes and Workflows
How often do you send emails asking if a certain process has been completed? This is a big culprit behind the bloated inbox.
In cases like these you can automate the process in SharePoint, receiving just one or two notification emails when items need your attention. Instead of constantly checking your inbox, you receive a link to a dashboard with all the details you need.
For example, when people send emails asking for approval on certain data within a document, it can take a lot of back-and-forth to make the needed changes. Instead, people can upload documents in SharePoint, and the background process will email you for approval. After each change, a new version of the file is uploaded. You can stay up to date by using a dashboard to see what changes are needed, rather than relying on email.
Email is not going away anytime soon. It’s a vital tool for communication, but somehow we’ve let it evolve into something that takes too much time to manage. It’s too easy to miss something important because it got buried under 50 emails about the company holiday party. With SharePoint and Office 365, you can reduce a lot of needless chatter and focus on getting some work done. Read about the party later on the company news section of the homepage.