Complicated methods to improve workflow and efficiency may work in a tactical sense. However, if you are looking to make large strides in your office workflow, then you need to fix the big and obvious problems. One problem that is often overlooked is the issue of employees becoming distracted by one or more of the many tools that we place in front of them to improve their efficiency. All too often, these tools contain built-in noise that take away from the practical use of the tool.
Our proclivity to upgrade to the latest technology on the front edge of the curve is a natural intuition. Many companies incorporated IM functionality into their communications infrastructure over SMS simply because it was the latest gadget to have. However, IM apps tend to introduce a great deal more noise than simple SMS apps while the efficiency of the more complex technology has yet to really be proven. With this in mind, we must ask the question: Does using SMS keep employees from getting distracted?
The follow-up question: Does the business lose any efficiency by “downgrading” to SMS versus IM?
Let’s answer the second question first. SMS is far from a downgrade with respect to IM. SMS is a more streamlined technology that has proven itself to be more business oriented. The modern generation of SMS tools loses no business functionality when compared to instant messaging.
Your employees will be able to send simple messages; however, they will also be able to attach complex documents and audiovisual presentations. They can stay in touch remotely and collaborate on projects. SMS has also future proofed itself as a general technology. As long as your infrastructure is properly maintained, you can always upgrade to the next level of communications.
The real issue is whether instant messaging creates many distractions for workplace. Instant messaging was created from a consumer standpoint, and still serves that function today. Many IM apps come with background videos, advertisements and pop-up links that do not stay in the background for long. This is especially true if you do not upgrade your service from behind the paywall.
Your communications infrastructure must take into account the human element of your business as well. It is irresponsible to treat employees like children – giving them a full-featured IM technology, telling them to use it for communications, and then punishing them for interacting with the built-in noise is a fast way to reduce office morale. Trying to cut off the problem by creating harsh rules creates an even worse effect. Your employees will likely find ways to defy you behind your back, increasing the hidden inefficiencies in your office that are much more difficult to weed out.
No, it is much better to incorporate a technology that is already streamlined for business. SMS is just as capable as its cousin IM with less noise to distract your employees. Because there are less temptations to begin with, there are less rules for your management and executive class to impose upon your front-line employees. Everyone stays happier, and everyone works more efficiently. The moral of the story: You do not always have to upgrade with the crowd, especially if the crowd is not performing to the level of your business.