Communication at work takes place through different channels, from memorandum, postal mail, blackboards and newsletters, through email, intranet and chat, to interactive screens, podcasts and business social networks. If the different capacities of the people who collaborate in the company are taken into account, technological advances can facilitate communication.
In advising our clients at CLC Communication & Public Affairs we have designed communication systems at work for transnational companies with collaborators who have high knowledge and digital culture, but who also interact with others who do not use desks or computers. Therefore, technology presents both a challenge and a huge opportunity. Together with technology, our societies and our way of working are also changing. This is why I share some of the current trends in communication in the workplace.
1. The end of “internal communication”. In times of so-called “hypertransparency”, we must move from storytelling to storydoing. The penetration of the Internet, the popularity of social networks and access to connected mobile phones, results in a new dynamic of companies with their brands, their collaborators and customers, which coexist in the same “virtual” space where any user with a cell phone can generate information and content that can be seen by millions of people in a few minutes. This represents a risk and an opportunity. The public image, work culture and discourse have to be consistent. The typical difference between internal and external communications is disappearing forever. This implies an effort of transparency and coherence that is based on solid values and a communication strategy duly advised and conducted.
2. From mailing lists and the intranet to corporate social networks. The multidirectionality of the communication has been transferred to channels and platforms where the collaborators have conversations in “real time”, feeding back the processes and services in a comfortable way and how they do it in their daily life. To take advantage of these platforms, the organization must generate response and data collection capabilities and implement the use of applications that allow the interaction of people who collaborate “without desktops”.
3. Engagement: from the job search to the search for meaning. People want to work in a place where they feel identified, proud to “belong” not only for sales leadership or business solidity, but for the social contributions of the organization, the mitigation of the damages produced by their activity and even for the support of certain “causes”. The coherent, consistent and transparent discourse must be aligned through a clear communication strategy that facilitates the employees’ engagment.
4. From engagement to advocacy. We all want the benefits of development, but we do not want to pay the price; the populations want the jobs that the industry provides, but few want the industrial plants near their houses. This is the phenomenon called Nimby (“not in my backyard”). Organized populations can suspend the operation of a company. For this reason, it is no longer enough to have legal and formal permits, as it is necessary to manage a social license to operate and grow. To achieve this goal, the quality of the dialogue with the communities must be improved, as well as consideration of the fact that the employees of the company or organization can speak with conviction of their positive experience in the company, becoming defenders in front of their peers, colleagues and clients. In this subject it is crucial to have a permanent dialogue with them, with active listening and a feedback process.
5. Video instead of a memo. The people who collaborate in the company are permanently exposed to videos on networks, be they opinion leaders, celebrities or even governors. The management of the company cannot remain on the sidelines. It is necessary that they communicate through video, because this tool can significantly increase the effectiveness of a company’s communications, since it allows transmitting emotions more effectively and generating greater conviction. Despite these advantages, the use of video brings risks. To identify them, it is pertinent to implement a multidirectional communication strategy with simple videos. To enhance its use, it is recommended to improve managerial leadership training, since the time spent preparing communication around vision, feedback and motivation is a profitable investment for the company.
6. The smartphone: if you can’t beat them, join them! Make no mistake; the collaborators will check their smartphones. Communication experts recommend minimizing your risks and try to avoid unwanted collateral results. The mobile phone is an easy-to-access, friendly tool that allows conversations to be built, motivates collaboration and increase information, since it can facilitate a more horizontal dynamic and incorporates those people who do not work at desks or who do it remotely in other spaces.
7. Gamification. Game-based learning processes help companies to ensure that their collaborators retain better valuable information such as strategic goals and objectives. Gamification is a wonderful training tool and therefore helps to improve productivity and align the objectives of organizations.
Without pretending that it is an exhaustive list, we have mentioned and commented on some of the most important communication trends in the workplace. Organizations and companies should be advised to develop sufficient capacities to meet these new challenges.
Lampe, C.; Ellison, N. (June, 2016). Social Media and the Workplace. Pew Research Center. Recovered from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/06/22/social-media-and-the-workplace/.
Magid, L. (April, 2009). Study: ‘Leisure browsing’ increases productivity. Recovered from https://www.cnet.com/news/study-leisure-browsing-increases-productivity/.
Sylveira, V. (September, 2018). Comunicación reflejo de una gestión consciente. Revista UNO: Hiperconectados e hipervulnerables de Llorente y Cuenca, №31. Recuperado de https://www.revista-uno.com/31-revista-uno-hiperconectados-hipervulnerables/comunicacion-reflejo-de-una-gestion-consciente/.
Zarzalejos, J. (February, 2015). Por qué una empresa no es un negocio. Revista UNO: Inteligencia estratégica y empresas: conocer, comprender, actuar, influir de Llorente y Cuenca, №19. Recuperado de https://www.revista-uno.com/numero-19/por-que-una-empresa-no-es-un-negocio/.
 In this regard Sylveira (2018), proposes in order to give a better service to the user, to foster an organizational culture based on collaboration between areas and teams, based on the identification of the nodal points in which collaboration is activated and that it flows naturally, without resistances, without personalities, without reserves of power.
 As Sylveira (2018) points out, “workspaces are places in which values are recreated and, therefore, pay or not the culture of legality, civility, productivity, development and healthy coexistence. The responsibility of the company then is enormous, transcendental to sculpt the country and the international business community that we want to generate”.
 The phenomenon Nimby (not in my backyard) is used to refer to infrastructure investments as factories, transport of resources or power plants that face a problem of opposition from the inhabitants of the place where it is built, although the subsequent economic activity can benefit them directly (Pérez, 2008).
 At this point, the position and social function of the company cannot be forgotten. There must be an ethic of responsibility towards society in the area where the company operates, which in turn strengthens the link between its employees and civil society itself. In this regard Zarzalejos proposes to reinforce the integration of teams, the coordination and the vital experiences of the collaborators, which contribute to the design of business strategies that lead to a shared value — company and society — and that establish between one and the other a reciprocally beneficial and fruitful symbiosis (2015).
 Regarding the impact of the use of social networks in the workplace, the study by Pew Research Center (2016) finds that 56% of employees who use social networks for work purposes say that it distracts them, while 42% do not consider it a distraction. In addition, 54% consider that a “break” to use social networks recharges them. A 51% consider that they can see information about their co-workers.
 A study by the University of Melbourne led by Coker has shown that under certain conditions, employees can increase their productivity by 9% if they browse the internet in the workplace, with a limit of no more than 20% of their time in the workplace office (Magid, 2009).
 In a study by Pew Research Center (2016) it is found that employees spend little time on social networks in their workday. For example, it is stated that only 19% of workers use Facebook for work activities, 14% use Linkedln, 3% Twitter and 9% use another social network tool provided by the employer. Of these people consulted, 78% consider that the use of social networks is useful to improve networking and find new job opportunities; 71% consider it useful to maintain contact with other professionals; 56% consider it useful to maintain contact with experts; and 46% said it is useful to find information needed to do their job.