When it comes to the digital communications platforms you use to reach your employee audiences, do you have channels or do you have places?
It’s sounds like a pretty subtle distinction, but recent conversation with clients got me thinking about how we use our digital spaces to bring people together. How our employees perceive channels and places is incredibly important. It determines the kinds of communities that grow and gather online, and whether they flourish.
Employees will often see ‘channels’ as spaces which are ultimately owned by the business; by IT, by internal comms, and by extension, somewhere that ‘other people’ get to steer the conversation.
Your employees might think, “my voice doesn’t really belong here”, or “it’s only for ‘official voices.’” Often these spaces become somewhere that your people will read business updates, but won’t volunteer much engagement beyond that. The lack of two-way dialogue is less about community and more about broadcast.
‘Places’, on the other hand, are truly owned by a community. Collective employee groups choose what is presented and published, and people feel safe to contribute to the conversation. Spaces that feel authentic and open, rather than mandated, provide opportunities to share experiences and connect in a more meaningful way. Business news is still shared, but it’s more likely to be discussed in ways that relate to that particular community.
We have seen more change to our ways of working in the past year than I could have ever imagined. Those changes may have been born from challenges, but now, we truly have a golden opportunity to build new ways of working that make use of the best that communications technology has to offer.
Online communities are going to play a vital role in our organisational cultures, collaboration and connection, as we move to more flexible ways of working. Now is the time to double down on our efforts to create safe, online places for employees to come together.
And this doesn’t have to involve big budgets. So much of this can be achieved using the incumbent platforms already ingrained in our workplace infrastructures. It’s less about a tech overhaul, and more about a mindset shift.
If you want to talk about your online communities and how they can support your internal comms goals and ambitions, check out my recent conversation with Bananatag, or get in touch.