WhatsApp is the most renowned instant messaging app for smartphones in the entire world. It has over one billion users. Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp was a shrewd business decision. Even though it started as a personal tool, it can also be used for enterprise. Here are five ways that WhatsApp is superior to email for virtual teams.
WhatsApp Enhances Team Collaboration
One of the biggest disadvantages of virtual teams is that there’s a lack of camaraderie and team collaboration. Virtual teams can be very isolated by nature, and there’s a tendency for everyone to retreat to their own silo. The Couch Manager points out that, “subtle cues such as facial expressions” are not possible in a virtual environment.
WhatsApp allows users to be more expressive than email does. For example, WhatsApp allows a cornucopia of emojis to be easily inserted. There are a ton of interesting choices: a giraffe, a zebra, a T-rex, and many more. Sending emojis in a business environment may seem silly or inappropriate. However, one of the weaknesses of virtual teams is that they don’t communicate often enough. The lack of communication is insidious; it affects the quality of work. WhatsApp is more fun than email, and it encourages virtual teams to talk. The importance of this benefit cannot be overstated. For instance, there is often information asymmetry on virtual teams. In layman’s terms, this is the gap between what people know and what they should know, a gap that often causes suboptimal decision making.
One example of information asymmetry at work is when teams misunderstand the meaning of silence. Workers often say that silence causes trust issues. Using WhatsApp, the most popular instant messaging application in the world, over email is a surefire way to promote communication, which will help virtual teams develop trust.
Loneliness is also an issue on virtual teams. A 2011 study from Wharton in Pennsylvania shows companies shouldn’t treat loneliness as an isolated, non-work related issue. Loneliness leads to a variety of workplace problems, including mistrust among employees. Many virtual employees feel intimidated and feel they can’t approach their colleagues. As a result, isolation can kick in. Using a platform like WhatsApp breaks down those barriers.
Group Chat is easier with WhatsApp
Virtual teams often consist of multiple people working on one project. For instance, imagine that an ebook is being created for your company’s lead magnet. There are many cooks in the kitchen: you have the writer, the designer, the editor, the manager, and perhaps many more people besides that. Naturally, you could construct an email and send everyone a carbon copy, but using WhatsApp is an easier and more natural solution.
WhatsApp’s group chat feature allows you to talk with 256 people at one time (although it’s unlikely you’ll need that many for one project). All you have to do is go to the “Chats” screen and tap the New Group button to get started. If you need more detailed notes, they can be found on the official website.
WhatsApp Doesn’t Have Ads
Facebook owns WhatsApp and they haven’t monetized it with ads yet. As a matter of fact, WhatsApp is quite passionate about not showing advertisements.
On their official website, WhatsApp says that advertising is the “disruption of thought.” As you know, disruption causes billions of dollars of loss in the workforce each year. Actually, time-wasting websites cause 650 billion dollars of loss in the workforce each year. On the other hand, the largest email provider, Gmail, shows users advertisements. Their ads look just like emails, and Google’s goal is to make them as riveting, alluring, and appealing for the email user as possible. One way they do is by harnessing custom data so they can show the most attractive ad. In all fairness, if a virtual employee is going to be distracted, then they are going to be distracted.
If a custom Google ad is enough to dislodge, disrupt, and dismember their focus, then they probably wouldn’t be able to avoid the other temptations out there. That being said, sometimes ads are just annoying, and there’s virtue in using a platform that doesn’t have them.
WhatsApp is Popular With Customers
Virtual teams have to communicate with each other, but they also have to communicate with customers. And what do customers like to use? Do they prefer email or WhatsApp? British firm Yoox Net-a-Porter says that many of its customers prefer to use WhatsApp. To date they have numerous sales across WhatsApp, even selling a single item for $80,000.
Their success inspired them to make a poll, to create a questionnaire to see what customers thought of the platform in comparison to email. The feedback was very positive. Customers said things like, “Really forward thinking,” or “I really like receiving email from you this way.” The icing on the cake was that only 3% of customers asked to opt-out of WhatsApp communications. Some groups really love WhatsApp. For instance, the adaption of WhatsApp has been salient among Millenials. Some businesses rely on Millenials, and using WhatsApp over email to target them is a good idea.
WhatsApp Counterbalances the Lack of Impromptu Catch-ups
Yahoo made a big splash in the Corporate world when they asked their workers to come back to the office. The demands at Yahoo are rather intense, even for the ever-competitive corporate world. They needed a team of workers that was constantly online, constantly ready to respond, constantly in communication with each other. Their CEO Marissa Mayer believed that even WhatsApp couldn’t replace the value of face-to-face office communication.
However, moving away from virtual work wasn’t necessarily a win. Forbes called the move an “epic fail,” and there was quite a bit of backlash and backchat after the move was announced. Regardless, even though impromptu catch-ups are tricky to simulate out of the office, their closest substitute occurs when employees are using apps like WhatsApp, not email.
Do you use WhatsApp? Do you use WhatsApp at work? If not, what does your team use? Share your thoughts in the comments.