The Digital Work Environment
Good digital communication habits are essential in the workplace. Any company employee should have the ability to maintain multiple platforms of communication, such as email, instant messaging, and web applications. “Communication in the Digital Work Environment: Implications for Wellbeing at Work” (Bordi, Okkonen, Mäkiniemi, & Heikkilä-Tammi, 2018) discusses how digital communication affects information ergonomics, can serve as a job resource or job demand, and causes technostress, as well as the pros and cons of digital communication in the work environment. The main factors addressed are volume of digital communication, expectations of constant connectivity, quality of the messages, adaptation of new communication tools, technical problems and negative user experience, and flexibility in communication. The more various communication channels are implemented in a business, the greater the chance for workflow and concentration issues, loss of important emails, and overlap in use of communication channels (Bordi et al., 2018). Technostress can appear when employees are forced to use digital communication channels, there is an expectation of constant availability, technology is difficult to use, or if there are constant updates to methods of technology. Inadequate information can also be a hindrance when using various communication platforms, resulting in long communication chains, which can be annoying and stressful to read through (Bordi et al., 2018). The study also found a lack of training for new communication tools contributing to increased time and effort to learn web applications, as well as technical problems and applications not being user-friendly. Asynchronous communication was found to be a big improvement for communication in the workplace because it allows users to respond on their own time (i.e. email, text message) as opposed to chat rooms and teleconferencing (Groupme, Skype) which promote instantaneous responses (Bordi et al., 2018).
The Beauty of Basecamp
In my time as a Pearce Center for Professional Communication Intern, I have learned how to manage multiple communication platforms, such as Groupme (a group messaging application), email, and a web application called Basecamp. Basecamp is a project management service that allows project team members to make to-do lists of upcoming assignments, set due dates, post messages to the team on a message board, converse with team members informally in a chat room, view schedules of upcoming tasks, maintain weekly check-ins to monitor progress on group projects, and share important documents with the group. When my project team leader posts tasks to the calendar in Basecamp, I get pop-up notifications in the mailbox, saying “Completed” or “Due soon,” to let me know the status of current assignments. The mailbox also shows us when we’ve been mentioned by other team members, new answers to check-in questions, and when a new task is assigned to us. Basecamp has opened my eyes to how web applications can be used to streamline project management and facilitate goal accomplishment.
While Basecamp is a project management service, Groupme is a group messaging application that allows synchronous communication between group members. One can easily ask someone to meet them at a specific location, figure out a convenient meeting time for the group, and delegate important tasks. It is best to converse informally through Groupme and save formal and serious messages for a different platform. The last and most important form of communication that I use for my internship is email. As a Pearce Center intern, we are always corresponding with clients through email to gain an understanding of their availability so we can set meeting dates to give interviews and discuss relevant project information. Email requires a level of decorum that is not needed with Groupme and Basecamp because we are talking to outside clients and superiors, not other interns. Groupme and Basecamp are forms of intranet communication which allow for internal communication to take place between interns, therefore the level of decorum required for email is not necessary. While Basecamp caused an initial amount of technostress to occur due to the newness and many capabilities the application has, I now view it as a useful tool that has simplified the project management process for me. It is important to know how to manage multiple platforms of digital communication in the professional world today. Knowing how to manage multiple methods of digital communication and not being afraid to tackle new web communication services will benefit me greatly in the future, no matter what job or career field I go into.
Written By: Thomas Gilbert