Let’s be honest, there’s a right and wrong way to use social media in the workplace – you just might have to coach your employees to understand the difference. No, you shouldn’t be sitting on Facebook chat while your inbox overflows, but certain social media tools to connect and collaborate have a powerful impact on any organization. Organizations often use these tools to improve communication with employees, informing them of policy updates, training and other “need to know” issues. Of course employees will have to be fully equipped to use these technologies properly and securely, but it’s worth the time when you see the benefits it can offer.
Collaboration without borders
It’s not just the world that seems to be getting smaller, your office is too. Social collaboration can be used across departments and office locations to make it easier to communicate at all levels. For example, investigators can use collaboration tools and case management software to work on cases. HR professionals can use collaboration tools to communicate news, updates, policies and other corporate information to all employees. What it boils down to is how effectively you and your employees use these tools. The eWeek article “Tapping the Positive from Social Networks for Enterprise Collaboration,” states:
“There’s a revolution going on in enterprise collaboration software to sift out the good parts—for example, subject tagging and user profiles—of social networking and leave the threats and time wasters behind.”
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This shift recognizes the elements of social media that are useful for business, while keeping in mind that social media sites themselves are no place for business to be done (due to privacy and security concerns and legislation). The eWeek article I referenced above discusses some of the social features that are popular in social collaboration:
“Self-service and user-contributed content are key components of social collaboration software. IT doesn’t have to get involved when I create a group, community or project site and invite my newly uncovered experts to join me. This community provides the dispersed team with a virtual space to privately share content, engage in discussion, and manage the project and deliverables.”
Successful social collaboration
Here are some tips for successful social collaboration in the workplace:
- Outline and define your objectives- This helps you stay on task and develop a collaboration platform that allows you and your team to achieve your goals. Projects with unclear goals can become scattered and get out of hand, taking longer to complete.
- Include employees in the process- Give employees the opportunity to take ownership and set goals for the project, voice ideas, concerns and other issues. Airing out problems and getting these types of discussions out of the way before a project begins will limit the number of issues raised during the rollout phase.
- Address the gap- Employees vary in age, experience and familiarity with social media. Take this into consideration and address usability issues before the project begins so that it will run smoothly.
- Be creative- Social collaboration comes in different shapes and sizes. Think of the different ways content can be used, different subgroups that can be formed and different ways the project can be broken down for optimal efficiency. For example, these tools can be used by HR to create employee support networks, offering advice and information related to different needs in the workplace.
- Address privacy and security- Make sure the appropriate security features are enabled in order to protect information. Revisit any privacy laws that will need to be addressed depending on the types of information being shared and the location of the users.