TechLines: How Would You Improve Communications In Your Office?

A key element of our upcoming TechLines event on the future of email is giving Lifehacker readers the chance to participate ahead of the live webcast. Share with us three ways you would improve communications in your workplace and you could win a seat to see the event live, as well as having your issues raised with the distinguished panel of speakers on August 12.

Your improvements might be technical (more storage! better mobile integration!) or cultural ("convince my boss midnight email is a bad idea"). Tell us the three things that would make the most difference in your work environment (and why), and we'll feed all that into the event planning. The comment that impresses us the most will also score its author the right to attend the exclusive TechLines event in person.


    1. LESS communication. Sometimes, I spend too much time in meetings, replying to IMs, or 'urgent' emails - I want to be able to ignore things and not have been jump on my back because I WANT to get work done.

    2. Integration of web tools into a single coherent blob. I have email with GMail, email with work, task tracking via Merlin, bug tracking via Mantis, notes in SimpleNote, and important IM conversations via Bonjour and AIM. If all of these could be condensed into something similar to GMail's thread system all in one place and searchable, I'd be in communication heaven.

    3. Constant passive feedback. This one may seen contradictory to point 1, but let me explain... If I need something done, and am waiting on another person to do it, I need to know what stage they're up to so I can better plan. I say 'passive' because I don't want to interrupt them (see point 1), so something like a task tracking system which they fill out as they progress allows me to view where they're up to in MY time with minimal impact on them. However, this then means one more communication medium I must check (see point 2).

    All-in-all, I find that just being friendly with your coworkers means you get a better understanding of how that person likes to communicate, and allows you to adapt so everyone is on the same page (hopefully the same goes for them adapting to you!).

      Oops, point 1 is meant to say "... have anyone jump..." instead of "... have been jump..." :)

      JessT hit the nail on the head. Though I would change the first point from "less communication" to "more targeted communication". It's become way too easy to cc people on e-mails just so they have a paper trail. Communicate to people who need to know and save the others the 2 minutes needed to read it.

    1. Make a new rule that you can't email someone in your organisation unless you have met on the phone and understand each other's roles. This will help improve relationships in the least, and may even remove the need for an email in the first place. It could also stop people 'hiding behind email' and sending il-targeted requests just to say they have actioned an issue and they are 'waiting to hear back'.

    2. Separating broadcast and news-style email (reports, announcements, FYI's etc) from the rest of the inbox. Intranets or an RSS feed could handle less-urgent general information better, and when an item arrives in your inbox, you can be assured it is meant for you specifically. This removes the need to constantly scan the incoming items for relevance and importance.

    3. Tag all communication with a project or initiative reference to consolidate all conversations - This is already possible with folders and network drives, but could be easier and making content searchable could cut down on repeated messages.

    My number one wish would be to reduce emails. We manage by assumption these days (why didn't you read my email...)

    Emails should be used to communicate essential info not as a safeguard. People seem to want to cover their behinds by emailing 30 people. Insanity.

    Put a quota on how many emails you can send in a day and people might think about it.

    Augmented video conferencing.

    Real-time analysis of a speakers vocal intonation, grammar structure,gestures, facial movements, heartbeat and body-heat distribution to detect sincerity. Could use sensors mounted next to or within the camera to measure heartbeat and IR image. Also could be coupled with a database of previous video of the speaker to help analyze sincerity.

    Would also be awesome if linked to politicians speeches, debates in parliament and on camera

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