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How to fix your internal comms chaos

Collaboration

In years gone by, email was the primary method of communication. Today, however, most teams use a whole variety of tools to communicate and collaborate, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, Notion, and ClickUp. Even Google Docs can turn into a communication tool, when we add comments and ask questions. But research shows that this approach is inadvertently hurting productivity and communication

The sheer volume of collaboration tools that people are using has left 49% of employees concerned that the information they post on communication channels will be lost in a sea of updates. And 56% of people end up asking more than one person for help when they need information from one of these tools.

Does this mean collaboration and communication software is inherently bad? Not quite. Software is still necessary for your team members to work together effectively. But businesses also need to rethink how they’re using software, because clearly, using it poorly can have some unintended consequences. 

The downsides of having multiple communication channels

Let’s explore the downsides in a bit more detail.

Too many tools equals too much noise

We all know about Teams and Slack, but lots of SaaS tools, like project management software, knowledge bases, or document editors, allow for communication. You can drop comments, assign tasks, create threads, message people one-on-one, share updates, and more. Then you add on top the 125 Slack messages received every day, on average, and the noise quickly becomes overwhelming. 

Teams lose transparency and suffer communication overload, leading to some 49% of employees feeling worried that the updates they post in their company’s apps aren’t reaching their intended audience. 

Productivity drops and irritation rises

This noisy virtual environment hinders productivity because people are constantly context-switching. Context-switching is when you switch from one unrelated task to another (often in response to a notification). 45% of knowledge workers say context-switching makes them less productive and typically sees them spending more than half an hour a day simply navigating back and forth between apps.

This not only affects their own productivity, but since they report interrupting at least two people up to five times a day to find what they need, they’re disturbing fellow team members, too. These tools are meant to make information sharing quicker and more seamless — but when they don’t operate well, they do exactly the opposite.

Visibility takes a hit, and communication blind spots emerge

If your employees are working and collaborating across different platforms, they might miss important updates, or they might be unaware of information that lies in a particular channel. Our research with Cornell University revealed that, because of the sheer number of apps organizations use, 54% of workers find it difficult to access the information they’re after.

For example, if your marketing team is sharing regular updates on Slack and updating their projects on Asana, while your product team is collaborating on JIRA, members of one team may miss something that’s relevant to the other. 

This becomes an even bigger problem when you have dependencies between different teams or departments. If one team misses important updates because they’re shared across separate, siloed messaging threads, or because they’re simply drowned out in a sea of messages, team leads might miss important context and struggle to pass vital information along. 

The result? Your cross-functional collaboration breaks down. 

Poor decisions get made

This is about more than just productivity. The lack of clarity means that teams make decisions without the full context, which could have dire consequences.

For example:

  • What if the marketing team is preparing a product-led campaign, and the product just received some updates that they’re unaware of? 
  • There might be new financial regulations that the compliance team is concerned about, but another team doesn't find out until it’s too late, putting the company at risk. 
  • Or perhaps a car manufacturer has changed the design for one of its parts, but the factories aren’t informed, leading to production delays and costly rework. 

Ultimately, chaotic communication leads to poor decision-making that will eventually affect the success of your business. 

The road to fixing your internal comms chaos

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some steps you can take to improve communication in your organization:

Streamline

Try to reduce the number of tools you are using and get more teams onto a single system. If some specialist tools are still needed, try to integrate them as much as possible to reduce context-switching and notification overload. This process involves making your SaaS investments a deliberate, conscious choice, rather than adding one on top of the other in flippant (and accidentally damaging) ways. 

Connect

Ideally, your system for sharing information will be seamlessly connected to other aspects of your work and company. So when you share information with someone, they should be able to easily access what they need and obtain context without having to switch between tools.

For example, if you tag someone in a project because you need their input, they should have the option to click through and view the project’s details and history. The idea is to provide them with the information and context they need to make a decision or give their input, without the need for another meeting.

Visibility 

Some conversations need to be private, and there will always be emails, phone calls, and the good old fashioned in-person chat for that. But unless they have to be confidential, prioritize making sure your conversations are as visible to others as possible

Particularly when you share important information or updates, be sure to loop in all the stakeholders (at least over email and on Slack) and provide them with the necessary context. Connect your messages, requests, or decisions to the work they relate to and the people, teams, and projects they’re associated with.

This is one of your best ways of limiting siloed knowledge and increasing transparency and trust. 

Searchable

Ideally, all forms of communications will be easily searchable so that anyone working on a related project can quickly find past discussions and decisions made. If you’ve got a system that allows you to search across all of your tools, including email and Slack, for example, that’s even better.

Intuitive

Ultimately, you need your team to use the tools, otherwise it’s all somewhat irrelevant. Try to use a system and structure that people find easy to use and matches the way your business works, as this will drastically improve your chances. 

From chaos to calm

Qatalog’s Work Hub has been intentionally designed with these principles in mind, giving you a structured and streamlined communication system.

Instead of switching between multiple tools and sharing information across different channels, Qatalog helps you radically simplify your tool stack by creating an integrated workspace that adapts to the needs of your business. 

With Qatalog, you can:

  • Ensure everyone has the right context by sharing important information in Threads, helping you keep the team updated, have open discussions, and make informed decisions.
  • Connect your work and give your messages context. Communication is always attached to the relevant piece of work, whether it’s a Task, Thread, or a Page, so they’re easy to find. You can also tag anything from across Qatalog, so when you refer to something else, your colleague can simply click through to get more information.
  • Get notifications of important updates across your workspace with a personalized smart feed so that you don’t miss what’s important, and filter out the noise. 
  • Share company-wide information with a customizable Company Information page. When you need to share an update or resources with your whole organization, use this section of Qatalog to reach the whole company instantly.

Qatalog helps you cut down the noise and gives your team a structured system to manage all your collaboration and communication. 

To learn how Qatalog can provide a structure for your internal comms and bring order to the chaos, book a call with our team today.

sam-ferris
WRITTEN BY
Sam
Ferris
Communications Manager @ Qatalog
Sam Ferris leads on all things communications and helps to tell the story of Qatalog and its customers.
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