Collaboration Insights & Trends Product

8 communication channels for effective workplace collaboration

12 min read

Updated on July 02, 2024

Published on July 02, 2024

a woman wearing headphones is sitting with her laptop on the desk

In today’s digital workplace, clear and efficient communication is more important than ever. Whether it’s brainstorming new ideas for a product feature or campaign, providing quick updates to your team, or delivering complex client presentations, the way we connect with colleagues directly impacts organizational success. But with so many communication channels available — email, instant messaging, and video conferencing, to name a few — choosing the right one can feel overwhelming.

The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all communication solution. Misusing channels can lead to delays, misunderstandings, and frustration. This guide will help you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of workplace communication, equipping you to select the most effective channel for any situation.

Types of communication channels

While face-to-face interactions are undeniably important, there are many other business communication channels to incorporate for an effective communication strategy

Let’s delve into some examples of the most popular communication channels, exploring how they can improve your team’s collaboration and keep everyone connected.

  1. Video conferencing
  2. Phone call
  3. Text message
  4. Email
  5. Instant messaging
  6. Live chat
  7. Webinar
  8. Corporate intranet

1. Video conferencing

screenshot of a Zoom video conference

Video conferencing is a versatile solution that can support various team needs. 

Here’s how video conferencing shines:

  • Better collaboration: Video conferencing makes physical distance a nonissue for geographically dispersed hybrid or remote teams. Real-time interaction fosters a sense of connection and collaboration. In addition to video, features like screen sharing and breakout rooms create a dynamic and engaging virtual experience.
  • Enhanced client relationships: In client-facing scenarios, video conferencing adds a personal touch to interactions, akin to traditional face-to-face meetings. Presenting proposals, conducting product demos, or discussing project milestones become more engaging and effective with the visual and auditory cues afforded by video conferencing.
  • Improved training and onboarding: Video conferencing facilitates interactive training sessions and remote onboarding for new hires. Trainers can share presentations, answer questions in real time, and provide visual demonstrations, leading to a more effective learning experience.

The built-in AI Companion in Zoom video conferencing acts as your intelligent assistant. It can summarize meeting contents, suggest next steps, and even help you compose messages, saving you time and keeping your focus sharp.

The right time to use video conferencing: 

  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Client meetings
  • Training sessions 
  • Real-time collaboration

The wrong time to use video conferencing: 

  • Quick status updates 
  • When participants lack the necessary equipment or stable internet connection

2. Phone call

photo of a Zoom phone call

Phone calls allow for a more personal interaction, which can help build rapport and trust with customers or clients. The back-and-forth conversation and vocal cues can help establish a connection lacking in text or email.

Let’s look at some benefits of using phone calls for client and team communication:

  • Complex issue resolution: Phone calls are better suited for resolving complex issues where back-and-forth conversation and clarification are needed. You can easily ask clarifying questions and get immediate responses, leading to a faster resolution.
  • Immediate response: Phone calls provide a way to get in touch with someone immediately, which can be crucial for urgent matters. This is especially important when a customer needs help right away or you need to make a quick decision.
  • Improved sales opportunities: Phone calls can be a powerful tool for sales outreach. They allow salespeople to have a conversation with potential customers, understand their needs, and tailor their pitch accordingly. This can lead to higher conversion rates compared to impersonal text or email communication.

Zoom Phone seamlessly integrates with your existing carrier or allows you to bring your own carrier (BYOC) for a truly customized solution. With Zoom Phone’s expansive global network, you can connect with anyone, anywhere, and enjoy crystal-clear call quality.

The right time to use phone calls:

  • Immediate clarification or real-time interaction 
  • Lead generation
  • Conveying complex information
  • Nurturing client relationships and building rapport 

The wrong time to use phone calls: 

  • Quick questions or basic requests that can be easily answered in writing, email, or instant messaging
  • Sharing lengthy reports, presentations, or detailed instructions
  • Disseminating information to a large group

3. Text message

photo of a woman texting someone

In today’s fast-paced world, we want communication to be quick and streamlined. This is where text messaging (SMS) can be a valuable business communication tool. Beyond casual conversations, SMS offers a blend of immediacy, accessibility, and concision, making it ideal for specific business situations. 

Here is how text messaging can help your business:

  • High open rates: SMS boasts an impressive open rate of over 98% — significantly higher than email. This makes it more likely for  your message to get seen quickly and efficiently.
  • Real-time communication: Text messages reach recipients almost instantly, making them ideal for urgent updates, appointment reminders, or quick confirmations.
  • Convenience for customers and employees: Most people carry their phones with them, making text messages a convenient way to reach customers and employees on the go. They can respond at their convenience without feeling obligated to be glued to a computer screen.

While you might view SMS as a more personal means of contacting someone, not everyone is comfortable with that. It’s crucial to respect the privacy and preferences of your co-workers, employees, and clients when it comes to opting into these messages.

The right time to use text messages: 

  • Urgent updates or time-sensitive notifications 
  • Concise and direct communication
  • Appointment reminders, order updates, or promotional offers 
  • Personalized communication 

The wrong time to use text messages: 

  • Delivering complex or detailed information

4. Email

photo of Zoom email

Let’s face it: email is the workhorse of the communication world. We all juggle overflowing inboxes, from messages with colleagues about upcoming projects to important updates from clients and partners. But despite the constant flow of emails, it remains a critical and versatile communication channel for businesses of all sizes.

Here’s why email continues to be a reliable and effective communication channel:

  • Solid history: Email has been around for decades, making it a familiar and dependable method for connecting. From seasoned professionals to new hires, almost everyone is comfortable using email.
  • Clear documentation: Emails establish a clear record of communication. Need to reference a past discussion or confirm crucial details with a client? A quick search of your inbox can retrieve everything. This can be a lifesaver for projects and helps prevent misunderstandings.
  • Flexibility: Emails work on your time. You can send a message with a brilliant idea, and the recipient can review it at their convenience. This asynchronous nature makes email perfect for integrating communication into busy schedules.

Zoom Mail integrates seamlessly with Zoom Meetings, Team Chat, Whiteboard, and Phone. Access everything you need for efficient communication and collaboration within a single, user-friendly platform.

The right time to use email: 

  • Formal communication
  • Conveying detailed information that doesn’t require an immediate response
  • Professional correspondence with clients

The wrong time to use email:

  • Urgent matters
  • Complex problem-solving

5. Instant messaging

photo of Zoom instant messaging

Instant messaging (IM) refers to a real-time chatting platform that allows users to exchange short, text-based messages with one another over a computer network. Think of it as the energetic sidekick to email — perfect for quick updates, real-time discussions, and keeping teams connected on the go.

Let’s look at some benefits of instant messaging:

  • Speed and efficiency: Need a quick answer or want to provide a brief update? IM chat cuts through the email clutter, facilitating real-time dialogue and moving projects forward. 
  • Collaborative: IM fosters a more informal and conversational tone, ideal for brainstorming sessions, asking clarifying questions, or troubleshooting minor issues. It can break down communication barriers and encourage team collaboration. 
  • Availability and convenience: Many of us are constantly connected to our devices, making IM a highly accessible communication channel. This fosters a sense of connection and allows for quick check-ins, even when working remotely. 

With Zoom Team Chat, you can send instant messages to individuals or groups, share files, and even create channels for ongoing discussions with specific teams or projects. It’s handy for quick conversations, organizing teamwork, or staying in touch without needing to start a full video meeting.

Zoom Team Chat’s AI Companion can summarize long chat threads for quick consumption, helping you catch up on conversations efficiently. AI Companion can also help you compose a message or quickly schedule a meeting, saving you even more time.

The right time to use instant messaging: 

  • Quick questions or updates
  • Real-time collaboration for immediate communication and feedback
  • Informal communication 

The wrong time to use instant messaging:

  • Complex problem-solving 
  • Assigning high-importance tasks 

6. Live chat

photo of Zoom live chat

Live chat is a real-time communication channel that allows businesses to connect with website visitors and customers directly through a chat window embedded in their website or mobile app. Think of it like the digital version of a conversation with an employee in a brick-and-mortar store, where customers can ask questions, get clarifications, and receive assistance in real time.

Live chat is a trusted communication channel for:

  • Improved customer satisfaction: Live chat allows for real-time conversations, resolving issues quickly and efficiently. This immediacy translates to happier customers who feel valued and supported.
  • Increased engagement: Live chat keeps visitors engaged. Proactive chat prompts can offer assistance or answer common questions before customers get frustrated and abandon their online journey.
  • Efficiency: One skilled agent can manage multiple chats simultaneously, maximizing productivity and offering timely support to a wider pool of customers. 

Zoom Contact Center is an omnichannel solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing communication tools, allowing customers to reach the right expert, regardless of department or location. This fosters a smooth customer journey and faster resolution times.

The right time to use live chat:

  • Providing real-time customer support
  • Assisting visitors with website inquiries
  • Engaging potential customers for sales assistance
  • Offering immediate technical support

The wrong time to use live chat:

  • When support agents are unavailable
  • Resolving complex issues

7. Webinar

a woman is noting something down in her notebook and her laptop is in front of her

Webinars have emerged as a powerful communication channel, blending elements like video conferencing, email marketing, chat functionalities, and even social media promotion. They enable you to host live, interactive presentations that reach a global audience, all from the comfort of your own device.

Here are some of the main benefits of hosting a webinar: 

  • Cost-effective and scalable: Compared to traditional events, webinars eliminate geographical limitations and venue costs. You can broadcast your message to a global audience, fostering brand awareness and lead generation without breaking the bank.
  • Interactive features: Enhance audience participation through live chat, Q&A sessions, and real-time reactions. Gather valuable feedback and gauge audience understanding in real time.
  • Credibility: Webinars allow you to connect with your audience on a deeper level. By giving insightful presentations and fostering interaction, you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This builds trust and credibility with potential customers, making them more likely to consider your brand when making purchasing decisions.

Connect Zoom Webinars with your existing CRM, educational platforms, or gamification tools for a truly immersive experience. With Zoom Webinars, you can get started quickly with a user-friendly interface and the ability to stream to various platforms or embed your webinar directly into your website. 

The right time to use webinars:

  • Educational purposes, offering valuable insights
  • Conducting interactive training sessions
  • Showcasing products or services through demonstrations
  • As a tool for lead generation and engaging prospects

The wrong time to use webinars:

  • When audience engagement is low due to irrelevant topics
  • Complex or time-consuming content
  • For collaborative situations that involve conversing with multiple people

8. Corporate intranet

visual of Workvivo by Zoom

An intranet is a secure internal network that acts as a digital workplace for your employees. It goes beyond a simple file server; it’s a dynamic platform that streamlines group communication, knowledge sharing, and collaboration across departments and locations.

Gone are the days of endless email chains or relying solely on meetings. An intranet provides a central platform for announcements, company updates, and department-specific information, encouraging transparency and keeping everyone informed.

Below are some other benefits of a corporate intranet:

  • Knowledge sharing and collaboration: A modern intranet facilitates knowledge sharing through features like wikis, forums, and discussion boards. This empowers employees to learn from each other, share best practices, and collaborate on projects effectively.
  • Streamlined workflow: Finding information is a breeze with features like a powerful search function, document libraries, and an app launcher — all readily available within a unified platform like Workvivo. This eliminates wasted time and keeps employees focused on their tasks.
  • Boosted productivity: By centralizing information, resources, and communication tools, an intranet saves employees time and reduces wasted effort. They can quickly find what they need and collaborate seamlessly with colleagues, leading to increased productivity and overall efficiency.

Workvivo by Zoom boasts a modern, social media-inspired interface that’s intuitive and actually enjoyable to use. Workvivo integrates seamlessly with your existing tools (with over 100 integrations!) and offers an API framework for further customization. Plus, employees are more likely to stay informed and connected when the platform itself is engaging.

The right time to use a corporate intranet:

  • Internal communication and collaboration
  • Sharing company policies, procedures, and announcements
  • Centralizing resources and documents
  • Supporting employee engagement

The wrong time to use a corporate intranet:

  • Client communication 
  • Non-work-related content, like sharing photos from a trip or posting birthday/anniversary wishes
  • Informal discussions or brainstorming sessions

Find the right mix of communication channels

Now that you know about the wide variety of communication channels at your disposal, here are some considerations to determine which channels you need:

  • Target group: Who are you trying to reach? Does your internal team require a more collaborative platform like a project management tool or team chat? Or are you aiming for external audiences like clients or customers, where email marketing or hosting webinars might be more appropriate?
  • Purpose/context: What is the nature of your message? Are you delivering routine updates, holding a brainstorming session, or conveying sensitive information? The purpose and context of your communication will guide your channel selection. For instance, a quick question for a colleague might be best addressed through chat, while a complex training session might require video conferencing.
  • Urgency: How quickly does your message need to be received and acted upon? Urgent information may require a real-time communication channel like a phone call or instant message, while less pressing matters could be relayed via email or intranet post.
  • Reach: How many people do you need to reach with your message? Email offers a good balance of reach and efficiency, while social media can help you broadcast information to a wider audience.
  • Measurability: Do you need to track how your message is received and engaged with? Certain channels, like email marketing platforms or social media analytics, offer detailed metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your communication.

Leverage Zoom Workplace for an omnichannel approach

Choosing the right mix of communication channels can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Zoom Workplace can help you seamlessly connect your internal teams and external audiences. Explore our comprehensive suite of collaboration tools and discover how to unify your communication strategy.

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