Communication in the workplace takes several forms, each impacting employee productivity in a different way. Internal communication between management and employees builds understanding of organizational goals, helping motivate employees. Communication tools help employees complete their tasks more efficiently. Mobile communication ensures that employees can maintain productivity levels when they are working away from the office. Social networking tools can help employees improve performance through increased collaboration.
Effective internal communication provides clear information on an organization’s goals, successes, challenges and operational issues affecting employees. By raising awareness, internal communication helps employees understand how their role in the organization and their performance can influence success.
Communication tools can make an important contribution to productivity. The UK Office for National Statistics found that investment in telecommunications had a positive effect on productivity, explaining up to 7.5 percent of productivity differences in manufacturing firms. They reported that use of computers raised productivity by 2.1 percent for every additional 10 percent of employees who were IT-enabled, while enabling staff with the Internet raised productivity by 2.9 percent for every 10 percent enabled.
Although individual tools, including email, fixed-line phone, voice mail, mobile phone, instant messaging and conferencing offer specific productivity benefits, many organizations recognize the additional benefits of integrating them in a unified communication solution. Research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey reports that failing to integrate communication devices can reduce productivity. In a survey of firms without unified communication, 56 percent of the respondents reported that employees trying to reach a colleague simply guess which device to use and fail at the first attempt. Nearly half of respondents missed a deadline or experienced project delay because of communication problems.
Mobile communication enables employees away from their desks to maintain contact and access the data and applications they need to maintain productivity. A Cisco Systems study of its own teleworkers found that 69 percent cited higher productivity when working remotely, while 83 percent felt that that their ability to communicate and collaborate with colleagues did not change when working away from the office.
Social networking can have a positive or negative effect on productivity, depending on how employees use it. Nucleus Research estimates that some 50 percent of employees visit Facebook at work for personal reasons and that can reduce productivity by 1.5 percent – a phenomenon it calls social notworking. However, many organizations are encouraging employees to use social networking tools to improve collaboration. Updating colleagues on projects via Twitter, or putting skills profiles and support requests on Facebook can simplify communication and improve productivity.