How to streamline your in-office communication and collaboration system.
Chances are you communicate and collaborate all the time with your staff, partners, and firm colleagues. This means you need to develop efficient modes of in-office communication and collaboration.
Efficient and inefficient in-office communication and collaboration:
1. oral: okay if have tablet pc, type them, or record it and file it as MP3;
2. handwritten instructions: bad because requires scanning;
3. printed memos/instructions: bad because requires scanning;
4. dictated: okay if using digital dictation and can create an MP3 of the recording for storing on the file;
5. e-mail: excellent (my preferred method);
6. instant message: okay if the message can be saved to the file. Good for unimportant communications;
7. intranet wiki/board: an electronic central announcement forum accessible by all or some employees. These are great for firm-wide announcements and information;
8. telephone: okay because can be typed or recorded; and
9. electronic inboxes for depositing documents for review: create for document sharing/revision.
Instructions and notes should be saved to the file. I know my staff likes all my instructions put on the file. Therefore, that is the starting point. Assume your instructions will end up in electronic format saved to the e-file.
This means handwritten instructions and printed instructions are bad because it increases scanning. Oral instructions can be good if your staff has a tablet PC or it’s recorded and put on the file as an MP3. However, if your staff handwrites your instructions, that means more scanning.
99 percent of my instructions are by e-mail. We have separate “file instructions e-mail tabs” for easy locating. This way our e- files don’t get stacked with inter-office e-mails. Our document management software is linked to Outlook for single-click saving. Also in Outlook we set up rules and separate folders automatically organizing and storing inter-office communications and instructions.
For office-wide announcements and my telephone messages, I set up a community Word document that everyone in my office accesses with a desktop shortcut. This is where my staff sets out my telephone messages. It’s a great mode for my messages because it’s one source rather than multiple e-mails and instant messages. All I do is open one Word document accessible by everyone in the office and I can scan all my messages.
It’s most efficient to have people go to a document rather than the document go to all the users, especially when there are more than 2 people involved.