Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A decade ago, email had replaced print in corporate offices worldwide. Today, text messaging has started edging out email, as staffs become increasingly mobile and emails go increasingly unanswered.

Texting, also known as SMS (short message service) messaging, allows professionals to communicate with one another quickly. The use of texting “blasts” allows a company to contact everyone in a department or throughout the organization quickly, a crucial tool in an emergency.

How Texting Became the Talk of the Future

According to a recent article in Business Day, 100 billion emails are sent every day worldwide, but only 14 percent of them are critical to business needs. The other 86 percent clutter workers’ inboxes, making it harder to get essential questions answered or decisions made. Small wonder, then, that so many emails go unanswered, whether or not they are critical.

Text messaging changed matters by cutting through the piles of emails, memos, and endless meetings. The constraints of the medium demand that text messages be kept short, listing only the most essential information. And the mobile nature of texts means that decision-makers can respond to one anywhere: in a meeting, on the go, even while checking email.

Why Text?

Here are just a few of the ways text messaging can help a business thrive:

  1. Focus. Most SMS services limit a single message to 160 characters or fewer. This means that many short, focused matters that demand a “yes/no” or similarly brief answer can be handled more effectively via text messaging.
  2. Better time management. While in the office, most workers check their email about every two hours, according to Business Day. They spend the interval focusing on the project at hand, not allowing email to distract them. Workers who are telecommuting, however, are far more likely to check their email more often and to respond more quickly, in part to dispel the notion that “telecommuting” is an excuse for “slacking.” The result is that workers who aren’t in the office lose the productivity they could gain from regimented email times. Texting cuts through this problem by ensuring that workers’ attention is only distracted from the project at hand when necessary, no matter where they are.
  3. Quick emergency contacts. Whether there is an office-wide crisis or a sudden, crucial change in plans within a single department, a business can send one text message and alert everyone who needs to know. The versatility of this option isn’t just limited to business matters; inclement weather or a burst pipe that requires an office shutdown can be communicated just as quickly, encouraging workers to spend their time telecommuting instead of commuting in dangerous or futile conditions.

Understanding Balance

As with all business communication types, texting works best when the medium is used properly. When incorporating texting into your office communications:

  • Keep it short. If your message takes longer than 160 characters, consider email.
  • Make a list. A departmental list allows you to contact everyone in the department quickly; individual managers may wish to make project or team lists as well. Don’t waste time texting everyone individually when the message needs to go to the whole team.
  • Expect a reply. Texting demands attention, and so it is best used for situations in which every recipient needs to weigh in. If a response is not required, email is a better choice.