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Vanessa O’Mahony

Head of Slack for Small and Growth Businesses in EMEA

Small businesses no longer have to settle for second-best when it comes to finding great technology. As an SME, you don’t need deep pockets or specialist IT teams to boost productivity or engage employees.

Small and growing businesses (99% of all UK companies) can outmanoeuvre bigger competitors, adapt quickly to change and offer a personal touch that customers love. However, the range of software tools today means team communication and staying organised can be a challenge — especially if your agility is reliant on outdated tech.

Growth by breaking free from email

Email remains the default for many, but it isn’t giving companies the agility they need. Our recent study of small business employees found that half (51%) say filtering irrelevant emails was bogging them down. More painfully, the average employee estimates they lose over a full day each week to writing emails — many of which are ignored.

Meanwhile, inboxes are hard to organise; spam mixes with important updates, and priorities get lost. This is without considering the security issues; email accounts for 91% of cyber-attacks, according to Deloitte. In 2023 and beyond, small businesses can do better than this half-century-old technology.

Communication fit for the 21st century

It’s time for small businesses to banish the email curse, starting by setting communication goals. For example, do you want to boost productivity in a specific team, improve communication between departments and remote workers or even automate tasks? It may be all of the above.

Next, look for a solution that can elegantly solve as many of these problems as possible. You don’t want to replace email with two dozen new tools. Instead, find one that does it all.

For instance, a productivity platform like Slack can cover multiple communication bases. It organises communication around ‘channels’ — spaces for conversations to happen on different topics or projects. In a channel, it’s easy to share updates, attach files and scale communication to everyone who needs to be in the know.

The average employee estimates they lose
over a full day each week to writing emails.

Benefits of channels for small businesses

Channels do away with the formality and sluggishness of email, boosting visibility and reactivity — but they also go further. In a channel, you can share updates via short video clips, jump on a live audio-only or video huddle with your colleagues to discuss and resolve an item quickly and more. This allows you to choose the most inclusive and engaging way to communicate, depending on the task at hand.

Ultimately, better communication results in a stronger bottom line — 86% of businesses that use Slack see an improvement in their ability to work and gain a 338% return on investment.

Property technology company, Homemove, is one growing business that’s seeing success. The team moved away from email and WhatsApp, making it easier for everyone within the company to be kept up to speed across multiple offices. Moving communication out of siloed inboxes and groups — and into channels — drove more transparent communication than email.

It also offered purpose-built business features; from collaborating live on shared files to integrating their own AI-powered productivity tools. “Slack enables us to work as if we’re side by side, wherever we are; and the productivity gains from that have been instrumental to our business,” explains Louis O’Connell-Bristow, CEO and Co-Founder of Homemove.

Evolving small business communication

The world of small businesses is changing fast, and so should communication. By breaking free of decades-old technology like email, small businesses can empower their employees with greater productivity. Getting there requires not only an honest assessment of where communication is failing but a mindset shift.

Small businesses know that size doesn’t matter when it comes to delivering incredible customer service or fantastic products. The same goes for great communication; it’s in reach for businesses of every size — you just need to choose the technology that enables it.

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