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The risks and rewards of Workplace Messaging

April 3, 2020 No Comments

Featured article by Ashley Friedein, CEO and Founder, Guild

Messaging as a medium is exploding.

By 2020, the four largest mobile messaging apps  – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber – had more than 6 billion users in total, surpassing the 4.5 billion users on the four largest social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn).

We are active messaging app users every day, in both our professional and personal lives.

According to research firm IDC, the ‘team collaborative applications’ market is forecast to grow by 70% in the next three years.

But many employees in organizations are using consumer messaging apps such as WhatsApp in an unmanaged and legally non-compliant in many workplaces across the world.

With GDPR and CCPA compliance a necessity, not a nice-to-have, it’s time to audit how messaging is currently being used in your organization, develop a strategy, guidance and get the right tools in place for effective workplace messaging.

Guild has developed a free 50-page research report and guide called ‘Mastering Messaging in the Workplace – How to Communicate with Messaging at Work’to help strategists and professional users of messaging apps to understand the opportunities and risks of messaging and to get the very best from this exciting growth medium.

Benefits of Workplace Messaging

There are many benefits of messaging in the workplace.  To summarise, they can include:

- Efficient customer service via messaging APIs, e.g. Messenger Chatbots, WhatsApp for Business

- Efficient and quick internal communications

- Connecting remote workforces

- Accelerating remote working

- Connecting global teams

- Making previously invisible contact and collaboration visible and shared in the organization e.g. meetings and phone calls

- Increased employee engagement

- Cost savings – e.g. international travel and phone calls

- Presence awareness – the ability to see when colleagues are available or unavailable

- Productivity

Risks of Workplace Messaging

Many businesses are knowingly or unwittingly taking big risks when employees are using consumer messaging apps for professional communications

In a recent survey, 41% of workers in the UK were using the consumer messaging app WhatsApp at work, in spite of this usage breaching WhatsApp’s own legal terms of use.

Many features of WhatsApp and other consumer messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram do not comply with privacy regulation like the CCPA [source link: https://guild.co/blog/is-whatsapp-compliant-with-the-ccpa/ ]General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other legal duties like proper record keeping where their employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders are concerned.

There’s a human and material cost of ignoring workplace messaging.

Multinational investment bank JPMorgan suspended one of its senior traders in January 2020, who allegedly was communicating with colleagues in a WhatsApp group.

Messages on the app are encrypted from start to finish and can’t easily be monitored by the compliance department, which is a problem for highly regulated firms that need to ensure employees aren’t engaging in illegal activity like fraud or insider trading.

Categories of Workplace Messaging.

Getting messaging definitions right can help define the different technology required, but also different policies and approaches to messaging.

Currently, ‘professional messaging’ seems to be interchangeable and indistinct from ‘workflow communications’.

Some journalists and experts are even highlighting consumer messaging apps as potential choices for the workplace.

Given that many still categorise workflow collaboration tools as ‘messaging apps,’ it’s important to clarify what constitutes a messaging app, and to understand the differences between business messaging apps, work-based social networks, workflow communications and consumer messaging apps.

Messaging apps can be broadly categorised as the following:

Consumer Messaging or Chat Apps – e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram

- Main purpose: fast, easy communication and connections between personal contacts and connections

- Primary usage is on a mobile device via a native messaging app or the direct messaging features of social media, e.g. Instagram or Snapchat Direct Messaging

- Form of messaging: in-app messages and mobile push notifications

- Used interpersonally for direct messages as well as for groups

- Individuals control their own login and profile but the platform providers, e.g. Facebook Inc, access their data and contacts  – for example, when you are asked whether you wish to ‘find your phone contacts on Messenger’

- Used frequently in a non-compliant way internally and externally across organizations, both for personal professional interests

- Extensively used for social, networking, community purposes

- Control and settings via app/web admin interface managed by individual

- Consumer messaging apps, when used by individuals in the workplace, do not provide business control or governance

Professional Messaging Apps, e.g. Guild, Hospify, Symphony

Professional messaging, for use by businesses and individual professionals, is distinct from consumer messaging largely because of the required admin features, additional controls and legal compliance.

- Main purpose: fast, easy professional communication and connections

- Primary usage is on a mobile device via a native messaging app

- Form of messaging: in-app messages and mobile push notifications

- Used interpersonally for direct messages as well as for groups

- Used internally and externally across organizations for groups and individual messaging

- Extensively used for social, networking, community purposes

Control, configuration, governance and compliance via app/web admin interface managed by business units

Work-based Social Networks, e.g. Yammer

- Main purpose: building connections and relationships with colleagues

- Form of messaging: in-browser messages and email notifications

- Web and mobile usage, although mostly web-based via desktop/laptop

- Mostly used in groups

- Employer/host organization owns the data and manages the users’ profile and system access (except with LinkedIn)

- Used almost entirely internally and for the purposes of the host employer
Control, governance and compliance provided by chosen software platform usually managed by IT and HR functions

Workflow Communications Tools, e.g. Slack, MS Teams

- Main purpose: team collaboration around ongoing projects and tasks

- Web and mobile usage, although mostly web-based via desktop/laptop

- Form of messaging: in-browser messages and email notifications

- Used in teams with some direct messaging between team members

- Used largely internally

- Some social, networking, community use

- Control, configuration, governance and compliance via web admin interface often managed by IT function

Messaging in the workplace today is like social media 10 years ago

In spite of its unstoppable growth messaging is still a relatively new workplace communications channel. In fact, messaging in the workplace today feels very similar to the early days of social media.

As more digital tools are added to the internal and external communications mix, such as project management, workflow communications, messaging and video conferencing, we need to clarify what kind of messaging is best suited to particular purposes or needs.

The free 50-page research report and guide, ‘Mastering Messaging in the Workplace – How to Communicate with Messaging at Work’ was designed to help IT, Operations, HR, Digital and Communications professionals.

Whether you are considering customer support in consumer messaging apps, responsible for recommending workflow collaboration, remote working or professional messaging platforms – or if you need to develop employee guidance around messaging at work – the report can help you and your businesses fully realise the potential of messaging and navigate the risks.

Ashley Friedlein 200x300 The risks and rewards of Workplace Messaging

Ashley Friedein, CEO and Founder, Guild

Ashley is the CEO & Founder of Guild, a private professional messaging app – as easy to use as a consumer messaging app but with the privacy, control, sophistication and service you’d expect for business.

Download the free ‘Mastering Messaging in the Workplace Report’ here: https://guild.co/blog/messaging-in-the-workplace-report/

APPLICATION INTEGRATION, DATA and ANALYTICS , SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS

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