Why Peer-to-Peer Chat for Employee Communication is Not the Answer

Why Peer-to-Peer Chat for Employee Communication is Not the Answer

If you work in corporate communications, you are likely aware of the rising trend of peer-to-peer chat for employee communication. I’m not just talking about Slack or Teams for office-based, deskbound workers. I mean, providing P2P chat for frontline workers too. At theEMPLOYEEapp, while we are 100% behind increasing transparency, connection, and collaboration, we also believe in adopting internal communications strategies that make sense for your business. And as it stands today, peer-to-peer messaging has more risks than benefits and doesn’t make sense for a frontline audience.

What is Peer-to-Peer Chat?

The rising trend of providing peer-to-peer messaging solutions within employee apps is troubling. Essentially, this is where companies provide instant messaging for employees.

Peer-to-peer communication is perceived as something you need to provide your workers with because companies strive to provide more transparency and collaboration. Again, this ties back to companies trying to improve employee engagement.

We completely agree that transparency, better collaboration, and engaged employees are good things. And we think there is certainly a business case for computer-based workers having chat solutions so they can better collaborate. But beyond that, we don’t see a great use for it for the frontline. But more on that in a second.

cybersecurity lock icon

Why You Should Crack Down on Shadow IT

The problem is, if you don’t have the right employee communication solutions available for all your employee groups, they will find them elsewhere.

Shadow IT is when technology, applications, and software begin to be used by employees without IT approval. This is a big problem because IT is responsible for ensuring the company is using tech that’s secure, accessible, integrates with the rest of the tech stack, and fully vetted for security vulnerabilities.

But when we fail to come together as a company and provide the tech employees need to do their jobs, they often resort to finding the technology without help or approval. Not to scare you, but you might not even be aware how often this is happening at your company.

The JPMorgan Case

Another thing you should be really careful about is who you choose to work with. At JPMorgan, they recently paid $200 million in fines for allowing their employees to use WhatsApp for direct messaging. In their case, they were actually purposefully trying to evade regulations in an industry where it’s mandated that they have very well-documented records of employee-client conversations.

But it’s a really good reminder that certain third-party applications aren’t secure or aren’t made for business. We also know that WhatsApp, in particular, is often what employees turn to if they don’t have internal communication channels. But this really is not a great channel for employee comms, and it can potentially pose legal and security risks for your company.

Properly vetting your technology partners is critical. It’s in the best interest of IT, HR, operations, and internal comms to get on the same page about who they work with to solve employee communications challenges.

peer to peer chat messages on a phone

Why is P2P Chat Problematic for Frontline Teams?

Once your company decides that you need to invest in a vetted internal communications solution, we urge you to reconsider including peer-to-peer chat as a must-have. We don’t think it’s worth the extra money, and it doesn’t solve the real comms challenges that the deskless workforce faces.

So, what’s so wrong with peer-to-peer messaging for frontline workers?

  • They don’t really need it. Frontline workers, by nature of their jobs, work together. Because they are literally face-to-face when they collaborate, they don’t need a chat solution while they’re working to do their jobs. This is completely different from remote workers, whose only way of working together is via digital comms channels.
  • There are serious legal risks if you open up P2P messaging for your entire deskless workforce. It is much harder, if not impossible, to monitor individual messages between workers. This opens up more chances for harassment and can potentially create psychologically unsafe workplaces.
  • Constant notifications are distracting…and that’s dangerous in industries like manufacturing or logistics. We’d argue this is another reason to consider an employee app for deskless workers rather than relying on email. Apps let you select what content gets a notification, so you can limit workplace distractions.

frontline worker using smartphone at work

What Employee Communication Tools Do Frontline Workers Actually Need?

To choose the right employee comms tool for your deskless workforce, you should start by examining what these employees have access to in the first place. We recommend doing an internal comms audit at least once a year. This will help you see what messages and channels frontline workers have access to today compared to what they should be receiving.

Our clients have all gone the mobile employee app route for employee communication because:

  • Their deskless employees don’t have access to an Intranet.
  • Most deskless workers don’t have a corporate email address
  • They rely heavily on shared workstations, tablets, or old-school bulletin boards for communication. These channels don’t provide great analytics to ensure all frontline workers see critical communications.
  • theEMPLOYEEapp provides user data so you can properly track the effectiveness of messaging and receipt of critical comms.

Ultimately, peer-to-peer chat is less of a priority than other methods of communication for deskless workers. These employees might be relying solely on face-to-face communication from their direct manager. They might only receive direct mail and bulletin board announcements about important topics like employee benefits.

Without a good reason or strategy for enabling P2P messaging for the frontline, it is more likely to cause challenges. Start with a strong strategy for top-down, bottom-up, and middle-out communication that isn’t hidden within a direct messaging system, which might actually worsen overall communication transparency. 

Bring communication out in the open. Target messages to the right groups. Cut down on the noise.

Learn About Better Frontline Employee Comms Strategies Than P2P

If you’re interested in learning more about theEMPLOYEEapp as an internal communications solution for your deskless workforce, schedule a demo today.

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