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Are Your Employees Using Unsanctioned Communication Platforms?

By Jessica Hall

Thanks to the unprecedented rise of communications platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat, many modern workers are starting to use them for business purposes. However, such unsanctioned tools are not built for business use and could pose a number of issues surrounding security, costings and productivity.

According to a new report from managed services organisation Maintel, organisations must become more receptive to employee concerns about business-approved communication tools; failure to do so will only encourage the use of non-business-grade platforms.

What makes certain platforms better for business?

Communications tools designed for business use are usually adopted to maximise user productivity, improve situational awareness, boost system reliability, reduce costs, ensure compliance with certain legislation, and optimise security measures. When employees defect to other more casual platforms it is often because their business-sanctioned alternatives offer poor user experience.

To combat this, businesses must listen to employees and focus their efforts on making mandated platforms easy and more attractive to use. What’s more, these platforms must be integrated with network management software; such as helpdesks that offer speedy response times.

Why unsanctioned tools are so popular

Maintel states in its report that ‘popular consumer platforms are often preferred over business-grade alternatives because, they have been specially developed to be speedy and easy to use.’

However, they also come with security risks. Many businesses choose to block platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger to avoid the possibility of corporate oversight.

How to communicate effectively with employees

To ensure that employees understand why there are rules around communications platforms and to ensure compliance, it is important to enter into healthy dialogue with them. When reviewing your communications strategy, therefore, you may do well to consider the following approaches:

1. Gather feedback

Try to gather honest feedback about your current business communications platform. This will guide you when it comes to improving the user experience and will ensure that employees feel heard, thereby encouraging them to use sanctioned tools.

Reasons for choosing a communication tool for your business need to be as strong as the reasons not to switch platforms. Whichever platform you end up using, it is important to make sure that best practices are communicated clearly.

2. Set out clear policies for every platform

It is important to remember that sanctioned communications systems can still be misused with intently or accidentally. In this way, you must draw up clear policies about the types of acceptable use.

Explain the reasons for your policies. If colleagues understand that breaching them could have serious security implications, they more likely to adhere to the rules. Business owners should also ensure that their policies are communicated others using your corporate system such as a company partner.

3. Try to gently persuade employees

Blocking certain platforms is sometimes counterintuitive as it can instil feelings of resentment in your workers. Indeed, they may feel infantilised or that they are being made to use unproductive systems. In this way, you need to ensure that your communications are respectful and carefully lay out why the use of certain platforms is prohibited.

The key to a healthy and collaborative workforce is offering modern tools and a network management system that facilitates communication. Whilst it is reasonable to draw rules around social media platforms, you must offer excellent alternatives.

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