Teams undeniably spend a chunk of their day collaborating via chat. The amount of time an employee spends in a chat differs with personality and job description, but we all use time at work in a chat app.
This is a relatively new way of communicating. We’ve gone from talking to one another predominantly through e-mail or face to face to instant messaging.
This rise of instant messaging sparks a behavioral shift, which affects both our work and personal lives. And, it is happening so fast that many of us find ourselves struggling with the constant noise of pings, buzzes, rings, and red notification dots.
It leads many people to question whether this is an improvement or if it hinders the art of communication as a whole.
Communicating at work
In businesses, how effectively teams communicate is critical to the bottom line, efficiency, work satisfaction, and more. It’s no wonder why businesses are constantly working to improve their internal communication strategy, evaluating new tools, and investing quite a lot of money in those tools.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been distracted by chat apps. Everyone has had one of those days when all we wanted to do was shut it all off and find a dark room, free from distractions, to get our work done.
Many of us are, however, required to be “signed-in” during work hours or work in open office spaces where voices surround us both physically and through our chat.
Working in distributed teams
As society develops into an always plugged-in one, however, it becomes easier for businesses to hire the best talent they can without the geographical restrictions. It also enables team members to be more flexible from where they work and for whom they work. We are no longer restricted by what jobs are offered in our vicinity and employers are no longer restricted by the talent pool that resides within a 50 mile radius.
But as one door opens, another closes. The rise of remote work has been a big win for freedom of location, but a loss for communication.
[callout class="user"]How do we balance the benefit of being able to choose from an endless pool of talented individuals and also make sure they communicate effectively?[/callout]
Chat apps to the rescue
The obvious solution to dealing with a distributed team is to implement chat apps and video conference tools. Many of these tools even offer both options in one by allowing you to chat with a colleague and then quickly call them via voice or video call, if you need a face-to-face conversation.
Is this really enough, though? Can a video call substitute the relationship built between colleagues who work side by side 40 hours a week?
The jury on that is out, but perhaps we can at least target the problem of working efficiently with your team, while spending so much time communicating with them through the wire.
Merging chat with project management
[callout class="tip"]Instead of adopting practices to tune out this noise, what if we embraced it and merged communication with productivity?[/callout]
People using a chat tool at work most likely have the app running at all times and their chat window just a click away. This means that if we want immediate action to be taken, then that chat tool is the transportation method to communicate that action. It can be something as small as asking a colleague for their input, asking who is available for a certain task, or even assigning an entire project to a team or team member.
Whether a team is using Slack, Microsoft teams, HipChat, Skype for Business, or a myriad of other tools, one thing is certain: that it is the tool where they spend a large percentage of their time and that’s where the opportunities to integrate or build project management features are endless.
One look at the vibrant Slack app directory tells us that many have the same thought and the trend is not going anywhere anytime soon. Integrators are constantly finding ways to make their own tools more relevant by integrating with chat tools and many are building their entire business model around fitting into a conversational UI.
Making communication actionable
Not only are integrators picking up on these opportunities, but chat platforms are making it easier than ever to integrate with them. It’s also clear that they expect many of those integrations to target efficiency.
For example, Slack just announced that you can now build more intricate workflows into your apps. This new feature allows integrators to build forms and dialogues into their apps, which lends itself perfectly to creating actionable items from within the chat platform.
Slack is not alone in realizing there is much to be gained by encouraging project management within their platform. Atlassian recently announced their new chat app, Stride. Stride not only has features for project management built in like being able to take action on tasks from within the chat, but they’re also encouraging developers within the Atlassian ecosystem and beyond to utilize their API to build integrations for this new product, which promises to “put conversations to work”.
Are chat apps the project management tools of the future?
Now that chat apps are such a huge part of our daily work, perhaps the natural progression of those platforms is for them to morph into something more. We’re used to the idea of platforms building chat tools on top of what they already provide and using the chat provided by tools we already used at work was normal.
With the rise of next-level chat tools combined with a workforce brought up on remote communication, the needs of businesses has evolved. We need more than a simple interface in which we can type a message and click send. We want a beautiful UI with seamless integrations with our favorite tools, a myriad of emojis, and bots to fit our every desire.
Team members are seeking out chat platforms that fulfill these needs and their employers adopt them with gusto. Anything to improve communication, right?