There are about a dozen ways to walk holding a laptop: closed by your side, open in your palm, closed against your chest, and so on. Everyone has their own way of doing things, which typically isn’t a problem as long as you get to where you need to be.
However, when employees use their preferred communication styles at work, getting to the endpoint can be a challenge. One employee might prefer to meet in person to discuss a project, while another might want to keep the conversation to email. Although it may seem harmless to communicate in the way that feels most comfortable, there are ways it can create risk.
Surprisingly, this is also true in IT departments, where team members oversee and maintain the systems that handle high volumes of data. Ensuring these workers communicate with one another (and to other departments) through the correct channels is essential for companies to maintain two things: security and efficiency.
Communication Habits Create Security Risks
In light of major breaches over the past few years, regulators, consumers and the media have businesses under a microscope, keeping a close eye on how they handle (or mishandle) data. Considering IT workers regularly access and share sensitive data, how they pass information back and forth internally is crucial to preventing private data from being compromised.
Igloo Software’s 2019 State of the Digital Workplace report found alarming statistics about the tools IT workers use to communicate. Email is IT employees’ top method for sharing sensitive or private information (61 percent), while 28 percent use instant messaging. Considering how easy it is to attach a file to the wrong email thread or have others forward your message, data can be easily compromised. For this reason, many companies encourage workers to use communication apps instead and secure file storage and collaboration tools. And just like employees in departments outside of IT, 66 percent of IT workers say they are using non-approved communication apps because they’re less likely to be monitored or tracked.
It’s equal parts ironic and unfortunate, but IT employees who are responsible for the infrastructure to keep company data safe still have the same tendency as every other employee to use the tools and applications they prefer to communicate with, even if it’s putting the company at risk. But these communication challenges go beyond security concerns — they also stunt knowledge-sharing.
Communication Habits Causing Productivity Loss
One of the most common results of ineffective communication is information silos. Igloo found 65 percent of IT workers collaborate with three or more different departments throughout a given project—when that many teams work together, the potential for receiving incorrect information skyrockets. For example, if one person is left off an email chain by accident but is expected to be on the same page with a timeline that was shared, this could delay the entire project.
Information silos become even more common when employees work remotely. A majority of IT professionals report working remotely at least one time per week (72 percent), and whether it’s being left out of in-person meetings or missing out on important information that was communicated in person, 68 percent say remote work presents even more collaboration challenges that lead to productivity loss.
Luckily, identifying these problem areas is the first step to improving how IT teams communicate. Once businesses understand where their workers are creating risks, they can equip them with the tools they need to share information securely and efficiently.
How Employers Can Help IT Workers Communicate
To break down communication barriers, remove information silos and provide secure channels for employees to work together, employers need to create a single digital destination that houses all the resources their workers need to do their jobs.
A digital workplace streamlines communication, integrates with the key systems and tools the business relies on, directs all conversations between employees into the same space and ensures complete transparency. Workers don’t have to worry about missing important pieces of information because they only have one place to go for knowledge about a project. Working across multiple departments or from a remote location no longer presents challenges, because everything is easily accessible in one central spot.
Creating a digital workplace also diminishes the security risks associated with sharing files and granting access to information. Employers can restrict access to project areas, only allowing people on the project team to see the activity and information stored there. IT team members can be certain the sensitive data they’re communicating doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Although the Digital Age has brought unparalleled flexibility for work styles, employees using different communication methods have the potential to create major problems for companies. By providing the right tools that streamline communication, employers can deliver the convenience employees want, while maintaining the security and productivity the business needs.
Julie Forsythe is vice president of technology at Igloo Software. Solving problems makes Julie happy. That, and helping people reach their highest potential at work. With a background in programming and platform/application support, Julie knows that strong leadership in technology organizations is the key to creating an environment where people can be their best.