Messaging in the workplace: the challenges and opportunities

British startup Guild, in partnership with London Research, has launched a new study 'Mastering Messaging in the Workplace' aimed at helping businesses and professionals understand the opportunities and challenges of using messaging at work.

The guide contains insights from communications experts and explores how organisations can use messaging tools to foster a culture of collaboration, while also navigating security, privacy and compliance pitfalls as more employees use unsanctioned consumer messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram for business purposes.

The research also reveals there is confusion around messaging types in the workplace and explains the differences between business messaging apps, work-based social networks, workflow communications tools and consumer messaging apps.

The report covers use cases for messaging in the workplace, the rapidly evolving market for business messaging, and some of the vendors offering different types of messaging platforms.

Professional messaging: the good, the bad and the ugly

Extracts from the report reveal opportunities that messaging apps provide, but also warn of the potential pitfalls of the medium’s use:

Annabelle Dudman, VP Global Head of Business Planning at PlayStation stated: “I think messaging is completely essential. It’s gaining ground due to the rise of flexible working and greater understanding around the importance of work-life balance. It just makes working so much more flexible if people can get in contact using messaging.”

However, highlighting the drawbacks of messaging app use, Rachel Miller, Director at All Things IC commented: “The potential risk is for companies not to be close enough to the conversations. If they are all happening in locked environments, it makes knowledge management harder as you can’t see what you know as an organisation. Compliance is an area comms and IT practitioners are mindful of, and need guidance on.”

Worrying WhatsApp use

The report reveals specifically how consumer messaging app WhatsApp’s use for business purposes has become a real underlying issue for many organisations.

Recent research commissioned by Guild revealed 41% of WhatsApp users use it for professional purposes, despite WhatsApp prohibiting non-personal use in its legal terms. For businesses, consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp pose even greater challenges as they do not comply with privacy and data legislation like GDPR nor other legal requirements around record keeping.

Jo Vertigan, Managing Director at Obidos Consulting commented: “Most businesses are uncomfortable with the chatter on WhatsApp due to the lack of control around security. Many employees like these sorts of messaging platforms for their utility and their workflow capability. However, in terms of corporate liability, there are a range of corporate governance issues which present something of a challenge. One issue arises from the lack of an effective centralised management system, which is critical for the company’s audit trail.”

Best practices for the use of messaging apps

The report highlights the need for guidelines to be put in place around the use of messaging apps within the workplace – both to protect employees and the business.

It also examines the criteria for successful adoption of messaging in the workplace and proposes a new model, the ‘Hierarchy of Messaging’, for businesses to use and adapt to create their own guidelines and policies.

Ashley Friedlein, Founder and CEO of Guild explained: “At a time when messaging is exploding, there is very little clarity or consensus around what form of messaging to use when, and why, at work. We’ve developed a model to help businesses and professionals think carefully about the role of messaging in their organisation, and come up with ways of working that embrace the power of messaging without the risk of losing control.”

To read the full report, which includes expert insights and guidance on appropriate communication tools for business use, please follow this link.