Chats are almost as pervasive as email these days. And sometimes just as annoying. So how do you make sure the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?

You now know what I do to attend fewer meetings and how I use digital tools like our Linchpin intranet and Jira to stay up to date. So what about group chats? Aren’t they also useful for agreeing on things and knowing what’s going on in the company?

Group chats have become a sort of death ray technology in many companies and appear to have taken on a similar character to email. In many areas of use, chats – and above all the market leader Slack – are faster, easier, and much more practical than emails. They can easily and meaningfully overcome geographical distances and even time zones. In combination with video calls, they result in situations in which we can collaborate as a team, even when we’re spread out all over the world.

Slack is a great piece of software, but in my opinion, it’s too expensive and not good enough for the rather high price. Anyone using Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace can easily use the Microsoft Teams or Google Chat group chat functions integrated into them. However, I do admit that I only know about Microsoft Teams secondhand. Tests I performed on a Mac ended up with the computer crashing. 

What is important, however, is not what group chat software you use, but that you know what it’s good for and what situations it’s appropriate for (and not appropriate for). At our company, we use a combination of Google Chat as an official solution and Telegram for mobile uses (for example, when teams are at a trade show or out of the office). We also have Slack accounts for communicating with external partners and customers who already use Slack. As you can see, even in our very manageable organization, employees sometimes have to work with three different group chat solutions. That seems crazy, doesn’t it? I also believe that this situation will soon become the norm. But we’ll talk more about technical diversity and the variety of different tools used later on. 

Let’s take a look now at the good and practical aspects of chats in a company. 

Quick Arrangements

It’s amazing how many things you can arrange in a chat! And you probably already know that most people are members of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger groups. Personally, however, I’m an advocate of Telegram as an alternative, and I never tire of promoting it both internally and externally. Here’s a link to a comparison of both that I’ve drawn up:

“I’m running a little late,” “Sorry, we’re not coming today,” “Can we bring a salad instead of a gratin?” “Can you take over my shift?” “Have you already phoned Smith?” “Can we still save the Alpha project or do you think we should write it off?” “I’m sick today and can’t come in...?” – The list of purposeful chat messages that frequently blossom into larger discussions that advance things is endless. This applies to both private and business use cases – only with the disadvantage that today, a large number of employees in the work environment still (have to) fall back on shadow IT for their work-based communications. 

We define shadow IT as software applications that a company does not control, but that are still used for business coordination purposes. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are by far the most prominent examples of this. It is prohibited, of course, and communicating about patients and shift plans over WhatsApp in a hospital does not comply with data protection laws. But because it is so practical, it still happens everywhere. Not with you, of course. That much is clear.

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The Social Intranet

Foster collaboration and strengthen communication. Be effective with enterprise intranets mobile and in the cloud.

Virtual Collaboration in Companies: Social Intranets as a Digital Home 

Never before has the business world been so overrun by cloud software and specialized vendors as it is now. There is so much software out there that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of things. It is all the more important for the future of work to have a place for digital meeting - a reliable home port meaningfully networked with numerous other systems that makes it quick and easy to navigate. This will increase transparency in the company and make collaboration more effective. Based on many years of experience, this book tells you how it already works in today's digitalized world and which trends you probably should rather than shouldn't follow.

About the author

Martin Seibert was 17 when he founded the software company Seibert Media. Twenty-four years later, it has nearly 200 employees and generates 35 million euros in annual sales. He has been sharing his enthusiasm for technology in YouTube videos for many years - and now also in his new book about social intranets.

Free for interested parties

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This content was last updated on 03/31/2021.

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