Dissolving workplace silos in the post-pandemic world with channel-based messaging

A hybrid approach to office life where many of us work remotely is looking more likely. CIOs must prioritise cohesion, not just for staff well-being, but to remain competitive

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Even before the pandemic, the workplace was in a state of transition. Businesses were slowly becoming less hierarchical day-to-day; staff were looking for ways to forge better connections with their colleagues, and companies were starting to experiment with flexible working models.

2020 has accelerated these trends and changed businesses’ traditionally held notions of what a workplace looks like, scattering staff far and wide, and forcing many to quickly stitch together a remote work policy in order to stay operational at all.

Despite being physically distant since March, businesses have kept individuals connected and productive, thanks to technology. During the process, the limitations of traditional workplace communication methods, like email, have become more evident – from creating information vacuums to excluding stakeholders from important conversations.

This is why many businesses shifted towards channel-based messaging, which by comparison, allows for today’s faster, cross-functional collaboration so that teams can operate with more flexibility and achieve greater productivity.

Such platforms can also enable individuals to efficiently find and search for information. This is crucial to time save, especially as employees spend nearly 20% of their workweek looking for internal information according to McKinsey.

Overall, channel-based models bring in greater structure, transparency, and therefore alignment - where the right information is at the right peoples' fingertips.

“You have 100,000 private email boxes and what’s in that inbox is completely at the behest of the sender, rather than the receiver,” says Head of UK at Slack, Stuart Templeton. “If you are on one project and then the next day you move to another one, suddenly you're in the wrong inbox. Or if you join the company, you don't have access to any of the decision making or the project updates.”

Leading robotics and AI company Ocado Technology’s team turned to Slack to solve this exact problem. Following rapid growth in its development team, the company is using Slack to achieve better visibility. Rather than juggling endless emails, the central operations team now monitors a central Slack channel, where they will be automatically notified if changes are made to hundreds of systems across the company.

Another way channel-based messaging is paying dividends is in bringing applications together. As, while the software application boom has made some aspects of work easier, 64% of workers report spending 30 minutes or more each day simply switching between apps. That half an hour of lost productivity adds up to more than 130 hours annually.

To avoid this, it’s critical for businesses to bring their tools directly to their teams — this is all about using apps and integrations. Templeton describes Slack as a “platform that connects people to applications” and with it currently having in excess of 2400 apps in its App Directory, it can reduce the time employees waste switching between them.

“I’ve seen the benefits myself having approved holiday requests from Workday in Slack. We’re ultimately breaking down the silos associated with email as well as business applications,” he says.

As a result of these integrations, businesses moving towards channel-based messaging can also increase the return they get on those applications. When APIs are mixed into the equation, channel-based messaging platforms such as Slack act as a central hub for operations and management.

Incident management is one such case where customers can get creative with the platform. For example, Slack offers an out of the box integration tool from ServiceNow, but Templeton has seen customers take it a step further.

“When there's an incident, ServiceNow holds all the metadata around that business service,” he explains. “The ServiceNow API reaches out to Slack, creates a Slack channel, knows who the key stakeholders are, names it and generates a summary of the ticket.”

All of the collaboration required to resolve the incident takes place within the platform, allowing the API to extract all the necessary information and store it against the incident number in ServiceNow.

The British telecoms company Vodafone is one company that has improved its incident management strategy with Slack’s PagerDuty integration, specifically for monitoring and escalating customer-facing events.

Every time an incident is reported, the right team is notified almost instantaneously - removing the need for someone to search for the right expert to solve the issue. In fact, Vodafone has been able to reduce incident resolution times from around 20 minutes to under five, freeing up valuable time for staff.

“It’s been phenomenally successful in a very short period of time,” says Paul Whyte, Head of Systems Engineering at Vodafone UK.

As organisations across the globe start to figure out what a post-pandemic workplace will look like, one thing is clear: the return to the traditional 9-5 is off the table. What is more likely is a hybrid model where individuals can be office or remote-based.

Consequently, CIOs need to keep those cross-functional teams together and help to create a place where they can deliver their work with empowerment, while also cultivating their sense as stakeholders within teams.

“That's really where we come in as a channel-based messaging platform to increase transparency and alignment in order to drive organisational agility,” says Templeton.

When everything changes, the ability to adapt becomes the competitive advantage. Find out more about how to navigate the disruption of work in this exclusive guide.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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