The practice of using professional microblogging tools like Yammer and Present.ly is becoming an increasingly popular way for small businesses or remote teams to connect around projects and facilitate better communication.
Workplace microblogs offer private Twitter-style channels that are perfect for relieving inbox bloat and giving users total control over how they want to be notified of new updates. On the flip side, they're not quite sophisticated enough to replace meaty project management tools, and they can create more work for all involved.
- More functional than e-mail: Every small business needs to communicate with in-house and remote employees on a daily basis, and the default mode of communication is e-mail. Unfortunately, this creates long e-mail chains that tend to be unruly after a few replies trickle in. If used wisely, your workplace microblog could relieve this inbox bloating.
- Most of these services support intelligent hashtags and replies, as well as threaded conversations and file exchange/storage. Use hashtags to theme conversations, replies to associate messages with specific users, and file-sharing for a more efficient exchange of documents. These additives make conversations and files much easier to track, but also help to preserve both entities in one single place for future reference.
- User-defined notifications: With most of these tools, users can customize their preferences and choose how, when and where they want to receive notifications of new updates, responses or replies.
This means that they can work via e-mail, SMS, IM, iPhone app or desktop app depending on their personal preferences. These user-defined notifications help staffers remain engaged in team pow-wows on their own terms.
- It's not a replacement for a project management tool: Yammer and its kin are extremely lightweight in function and will not replace your existing project management tool. If you're looking to bundle real-time communication with robust project management tools then keep looking.
- It's another system to maintain: No company enjoys managing multiple systems for project management, and no employee derives pleasure from being tasked to update multiple systems with their agenda and deliverables.
- If your sole purpose for a workplace microblog is to micromanage employee time, then dump it altogether. Finding the right balance between monitoring and productivity is key, so be sure you understand the time implications of a system before implementing it.
Are you using a workplace microblog? Tell us more about your experience in the comments.
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