3 ways chat platforms can modernize business culture

This article is part of DBA, a series on All Is Relative about running a business that features insights from leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and management.

Last year, more than 1.4 billion people used mobile messaging apps, according to eMarketer ?” a number that’s expected to rise to 2 billion by 2018.

While the study found adoption is higher among mobile and Internet users in Asia and Latin America, North America is quickly catching onto this trend and will match those regions in penetration within the next five years. Apps in the U.S. including Snapchat and WhatsApp are gaining traction quickly, and paving the way for broader messaging adoption in North America.

Most of us think of messaging platforms as a trendy way for teens to interact on their iPhones ?” sending each other selfies and emoji. But messaging platforms can be used just as effectively across an array of devices, from mobile to laptop, and they are becoming a surprisingly effective tool for business communication because of the real-time engagement that chat offers.

Due to the globalization of business and the on-demand economy, many business leaders are finding that it makes sense to contract a team of freelance workers both at home and abroad to manage the ebb and flow of business. And, younger professionals joining more traditionally structured businesses are demanding more flexibility than their older associates, either requesting longer workdays in exchange for extended vacations abroad, working from home or nontraditional hours that allow them to avoid rush-hour traffic and transit.

While many business leaders are willing to embrace these changes in business culture for the benefit of greater productivity and a more motivated workforce, it can be a struggle to pull everything together seamlessly to create the sense of a unified team.

Here are three ways a chat platform can act as that connective tissue, helping businesses embrace forward-thinking practices.

1. Disparate and remote teams can easily collaborate

Whether in the office or abroad, shoe-horning communication into dated platforms can create stress and confusion. Messaging platforms make it easy for teams to communicate in real time, no matter where they are. In today’s leading chat applications, there are features for task management, file sharing and video or voice chat, as well as text-based messaging. Benefits related to the adoption of chat technology can include:

  • Staying connected on the go: Project contributors have access to all the materials they need within the chat application, which is available on any device. This makes it easy for remote teams to ensure that everyone is on task and supporting projects appropriately ?” and on deadline ?” any time from anywhere.

  • Accommodating flexible work schedules: Since project materials are centralized and communication is free-flowing, it’s easy for employees to stay involved even if they can’t make it to the office.

  • Integrating remote team members: Today’s on-demand global economy means that many businesses are hiring specialized contractors all over the world. While this used to be a challenge due to the expense of travel and time differences, chat makes it relatively simple to keep these teams involved and highly visible within projects.

2. Teams can focus on a project?’s end-goal, not the inbox

Email can be cumbersome ?” anyone who has opened their morning inbox to a flood of messages can relate. But chat recognizes that not every communication needs to be 500-words long, and it encourages users to be both brief and topical.

Furthermore, messages associated with a particular project can be housed in a “room” related to that project, eliminating the need for users to sort through a crowded inbox for important, relevant communications. This makes it much easier for project participants to focus on the project at hand and not feel the stress related to an overloaded inbox.

3. Chat democratizes communication

In project-focused business chat, everyone talks and everyone listens. Project participants are clear on their roles within specific tasks. Every participant feels encouraged to keep their status up-to-date to ensure that projects are moving forward, which means everyone ?” from interns to executives ?” feels invested and valued within the process. This fosters a supportive environment where, if someone has to take on an additional task within the project, others can offer their help in real time.

And, if someone is acting outside of established process, there’s no need to escalate. A simple reminder early in the game ?” ideally punctuated with a friendly emoji ?” can, for example, remind a teammate that they need to go through purchasing before ordering supplies.

This collaborative environment also encourages participants to cheer each other on by sending a quick “great job!” or a brimming beer mug to a teammate. If this doesn’t seem like a valuable exercise, consider that 78% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized, and 82% say being recognized motivates them in their job. In fact, research has shown that when managers recognize employee performance, 81% feel more satisfied with their work.

Messaging platforms ultimately make communication easier so that employees can focus on moving projects forward and supporting each other. The transparency and ease of real-time communications can create a more pleasant work environment where support and praise are easy to provide. The adoption of a messaging platform can help businesses embrace modern practices and create a more positive, collaborative and productive culture.

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