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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Secret to Effective Office Communication

These days, everyone is looking for ways to cut overhead without losing productivity; doing more with less is the name of the game for businesses across the board. With a variety of options to choose from, nontraditional work environments may just be the secret to effective office communication in a shrinking budget cycle. These types of environments are designed to promote substantial reductions in both hard and discretionary costs while at the same time maximizing efficiency.

Advances in communication technology have made a wide array of new work situations possible. When given the option, many employees choose to work from home, which reduces equipment and space needs at the office. For the employees who still come to the office, hot desking lets them share work stations, a system that allows for faster response times and more targeted work functions. Hot desking not only minimizes the number of desks and computers that need to be dedicated to a department, but also encourages employees to adapt more readily to shifting time and space demands.

The use of communication technology can also have a major impact on the reduction of travel expenses. Wireless internet access from laptops and cell phones make it possible to conduct meetings, trainings, and assessments from home base, rather than requiring the entire team to be on location. The best part about using technology to reduce office costs is that many options are inexpensive to purchase and easy to use, making them accessible to businesses of all sizes and budgets.

Email is the most common key to successful communication among employees at all locations, whether remote or on-site. In addition to general messages, email can be used to share documents, photographs, and links to critical websites. With the proper safety measures in place, email is both fast and secure. Messages can automatically be saved for future referral.

Instant messaging (IM) takes email one step further, giving users the ability to share data immediately in an environment that promotes conversation and collaboration. Chats can be limited to just two employees or can include several at once, all able to interact in real time without leaving their stations. Using this type of communication in a virtual private network (VPN) provides an extra layer of security and privacy for delicate information.

While conference calling is a well established method of conducting a meeting with multiple parties at various locations, video conferencing adds a visual component that is essential for meaningful interaction. All types of presentations are possible, including status updates, educational seminars, and third-party marketing. Video conferencing can serve large groups of employees simultaneously, eliminating the both the financial and time burdens that the need for travel creates.

Departments with small staffs and single-office companies with limited budgets can take advantage of the many free email and IM systems available online. They also have the opportunity to establish collaborative relationships with public libraries and local school districts in order to have access to more advanced programs, such as VPNs and video conferencing. Businesses with bigger technology budgets can customize specific communications systems designed exclusively for the maximum efficiency of their own employees.

No matter the size of the office, it pays to take advantage of every type of communication technology available-as well as to think outside the box when it comes to facilitating the kinds of nontraditional work environments that increase efficiency while also cutting expenses. In addition to substantial savings in the bottom line, these methods can yield high dividends in employee morale. Greater flexibility, a better sense of interconnectedness, and a more streamlined focus will be the benefit for all.


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