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Hybrid working: digital communication and collaboration
Hybrid working: digital communication and collaboration

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5.3 Collaboration chat channels

We use the term ‘collaboration chat channels’ rather than ‘teams/group/project’ as, depending on the system and the purpose of the channel within your organisation, these mean different things. Here we are focusing only on the use of the ‘chat channel’ that is associated with a collaboration workspace and not the tools and applications you may be able to access within the workspace.

Collaboration chat channels on, for example, Teams, Slack, Cisco Webex, Google Workspace, Stack Overflow, Basecamp and so on tend to operate on a more formal basis. You will often find that there is more than one chat channel, as channels are set up to reflect specific workstreams and needs of your team, working group or project. This may mean monitoring conversations in more than one place and across collaboration workspaces.

I am currently a member of over 15 workspaces with 80 chat channels on my organisation’s collaboration platform, which will continue to increase and doesn’t include those I am a member of on other platforms, of which I have many. So I have to rely on the notifications that are sent to my email inbox or the activity notifications within the system we use. This can be challenging, but using ‘online’ communication in this manner is a skill I have developed, and I have developed an understanding of how the platforms work which enables me to manage the constant stream of information and messaging I receive.

I have been using various ‘online’ communication channels for over 30 years and often learnt how to use them by reviewing official technical support and asking others. I’ve found the most valuable approach is to set up ‘team working agreements’ considering the purpose, how we want to use collaboration chat channels, who requires access and how they will be managed.

It is essential to be clear what you are using the channels for and who has access in order to work effectively and ensure that expectations for behaviour are understood. If a channel is for an immediate team, how you communicate might be less formal, but if you have members who are external to your organisation, you may have a more formal approach, and you need to be mindful of sharing sensitive or confidential information.

Activity 17 Effective channel chats

Timing: 10 minutes

All teams/projects are different: talk to those who need access about how you will set up your collaboration ‘chat’ channels and their purpose. Read the following articles to help decide how you will approach ‘collaboration chat channels’.

What will the key considerations be for your team? Use your ideas to create a set of guidelines for managing your team’s chat channels. You may wish to refer back to the team agreement activity earlier in the course.