Many people feel that the best form of communication is to talk to each other, ideally face to face. That’s why people have meetings after all, sometimes travelling long distances just for that “one meeting”.
I am not advocating that we should have more meetings, but the point is that having conversations to work out the best way forward is why we meet. If people can’t do face a face to face meeting, a phone call often works, either a 1:1 call or a conference call. Getting hold of someone on the phone can often be difficult, because they are in too many meetings, right ?
If you work in an organisation that uses a system like Lync or Skype for business, that system will have a feature called “Presence”, which is why colour dots appear next to people’s names.
At a high level, the colours break down as Red for busy, Yellow for away, and Green for available, the presence light automatically changes when people are on the phone, or in a meeting.
The huge benefit to the presence indicator, is that you know if someone is available for a call before you call them. It’s like have a quick walk near their desk to see if you can catch a quick word.
At the Future Decoded Conference in London in 2014, one of the case studies was from Schroders who had rolled out Lync to their offices in UK and the USA. The project lead explained that having presence is one of the biggest benefits that the partners at Schrdoers found. By knowing in real-time, between continents and time zones, when people were online, logged in and available for a phone call led to the elimination of “voicemail tennis”, and made the communications became much more efficient.
When you start using a system like Lync or Skype for Business, there is a wealth of functionality available, but I would rate presence top of the list.
The other key benefit; Instant messaging
Instead of phoning up your contact everytime you want to speak to them, another method can be to send a short instant message which will appear on their screen, examples of when this can be useful are; or “When can we catch up on Project Titan”, or “Do you know the dress code for next weeks conference”. When the contact receives your message, you can see that they are typing a reply in real time. Because the communication is 2-way we are getting to a resolution quickly, and it’s almost like having a real conversation.
Lots of people don’t use instant messaging and fall back to email because they don’t know any different. By falling back to email we leave the prioritisation of our communications to chance as I have described in my previous post Email is stupid.
By getting your teams to start using the presence indicator and using instant messaging then you are cutting down some of your email usage and taking control of the prioritisation of your messaging. More importantly, you are getting to a resolution of a conversation faster, it’s simply good business.
Lots of businesses collaborate on projects, and the faster that project teams can work together the better, by sharing your presence information to partner organisations, you will up the efficiency of communication between all members of your project teams and you will get more done more quickly.
Your teams might already have the technology in place, but if you don’t ensure that they know how to use it and lead by example, then your not running your teams as well as you could be, and your competitors might be working in this faster way already.