This article was based on episode 145 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get my guide to team communication tools when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join. Purchase full episode guides at themodernmanager.com/shop.
We often think that there are only two ways to communicate via technology at work. One way, like Slack or email, is asynchronous and text-based. We can read and respond to these messages at any time. The other way is synchronous and live, like in-person meetings or Zoom. We have to be present with each other at the same time.
But what if there was a third way? What if there was a way that we could have the warmth and depth of a conversation without the stress of scheduling that comes from needing all parties to be present at the same time? Josh Little, the founder of three successful tech companies, recently released the Volley app. It aims to restore a sense of the “watercooler” whole-self work culture we are missing and save us time by enabling more effective communication. Josh shares why our current way of working just isn’t meeting our needs, and what Volley brings to the mix.
THE PROBLEM WITH TEXTING AND EMAIL
Relying on written communication wastes a lot of time. The average person types about 19 words per minute but can speak 150 words per minute and understand up to 400! Most people tend to share less in writing than when speaking. Furthermore, some people find expressing themselves through writing more complicated than speaking. Requiring so much written communication puts us all at a disadvantage.
Plus, most of our communications are expressed through tone of voice and body language. When we write, we deliver only seven percent of that communication! Not only do we miss out on that additional “unspoken” information, but we also lose the trust and relationship-building opportunities that voice and video can bring. As Josh puts it, we are elite athletes at communicating verbally.
THE PROBLEM WITH ZOOM
We all understand Zoom fatigue. Zoom meetings require us to “be on,” which can drain the energy of even the biggest extrovert. Plus, meetings can overtake the calendar, disrupting the flow of our work day. We then have trouble finding time to focus on our most important, deep work.
Additionally, some people, particularly introverts, tend to speak up less during meetings because they dislike responding on the spot. They prefer time to process before sharing their thoughts.
THE SOLUTION WITH VOLLEY
To find something in-between texting and Zoom, Josh created Volley. Volley is a video messaging platform that is like texting, but with video. While there are platforms that do this for family and friends, like Marco Polo, nothing has been created for the workforce. Josh believes firmly that this approach will help teams move work forward faster while strengthening relationships.
Current teams that use Volley have shared that they love the informal and personal dimensions that Volley brings to life. You may watch a team member responding in Volley while walking their dog or sitting in their car waiting at the Starbucks drive through. In addition to work topics, teams share on other topics like podcasts they’re enjoying, foods they're cooking, or Netflix shows they’re binging. Those small interactions that allow for personality to come through are the closest we have to replicating conversations that might happen around the water cooler. And they add up to a fuller relationship. When we have a fuller relationship, we have a team with more trust.
HOW TO USE EACH TOOL
Just because you are adding a new technology to the mix doesn’t mean you need to throw away all of the old ones! Josh recommends different apps for different purposes. Slack is good for quick informative updates. Anything sensitive that’s potentially emotionally charged, like accountability, hiring, or firing conversations should be done in person or via Zoom. In addition, weekly team meetings should be done synchronously so that everyone can have a thorough, group discussion. Any type of conversation that is deeper than simple information and not emotionally charged or needing for everyone to be present can be done through Volley.
GET YOUR TEAM EXCITED ABOUT TRYING A NEW APP
Your team might grumble at first about trying out a new technology. It can seem like just one more thing to do. Josh suggests trying out Volley with your team for something small, like daily updates. Once your team starts to see the benefits of the asynchronous video messages, they may want to use it more for brainstorming, sharing and enhancing ideas, staying connected on daily work, and more.
I juggle so many different communication apps for work that I never stopped to think about what I was missing. When Josh suggested that there was a third way to communicate other than synchronous, scheduled meetings or asynchronous written texts, I was shocked. Incorporating asynchronous video messaging in an organized manner does seem like the next logical step. It saves us time by communicating verbally, the way that our brains are more wired to gather information. And it allows us to do it at our own pace, rather than filling our days with scheduled meetings. It’s exciting to see how our world keeps evolving to fulfill the needs of people at work, so that we work better and get closer in the process.
KEEP UP WITH JOSH
Get my guide to team communication tools when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join. Or, purchase an individual episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop to help you implement the learnings and continue to enhance your rockstar manager skills.
This article was based on episode 145 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.