And suddenly everyone has to switch to the home office. All of a sudden, interaction with work colleagues consists only of occasional Microsoft team calls or slack messages. All social interaction is reduced to an absolute minimum. Not for long and despite all the measures taken, the warehouse fever sets in.
There is a tried and tested tool from the online gaming scene that can help companies in this day and age. In online gaming, social structures such as guilds, clans and the like have been confronted with the need for real-time communication for years. How do you organize countless players in order to work together on a (game) goal? How do you ensure communication that is not tied to time and place and at the same time is so intense that friendships can develop in real life?
For more than 15 years, players have been using tools for this purpose as a matter of course. With these tools, 40 or more players are coordinated and communicated. While the normal employee wonders how to install teams, players simply log into a Teamspeak or Discord server.
Thanks to these solutions it is possible to maintain the aspect of community feeling as well as the possibility of casual conversation in between as well as spontaneously asking for a job. The big difference to well-known business solutions is that the employees do not have to call a meeting or make a phone call in order to talk to the “other person”. Instead, it’s instant messaging – simply with audio instead of just text. All communication is much more natural – just like in real life.
How does it all work and what makes the difference?
Servers are created in a similar way as for example Slack ‘Channels’. The main difference to Slack is that they are audio channels. Although chat is possible in parallel, the main purpose is to communicate by voice. Each user is always in only one audio channel and can only speak and listen in this channel.
It makes sense to create a channel in which everyone can speak at any time. This serves as a replacement for the direct Add-Hoc conversation in the office. Just like in the office, every logged in employee can follow the ongoing conversation. You will rather notice the channel for private, funny or experienced things. Just like in real life, not too many people should talk at once. From experience, this will be quickly and automatically regulated just like in a normal conversation.
As a counterpoint to this, you need a ‘Do not disturb’ channel. Whoever switches to this channel wants to work in a concentrated manner and not be disturbed. Nevertheless, the person can be contacted in case of need. Other employees can also switch to the DND channel and address the people there. Of course if it is absolutely necessary.
Additionally, channels for project meetings or specific topics can be created. It is also possible to create channels to which only certain people have access. The possibilities for team organization are extensive.
Communication – Solutions the gaming scene uses
The Teamspeak system has been in development since 2004. The software is installed on a server. A company can set up its own server or rent a cloud based server on the Internet. For access, employees need the server’s data, a login and the Teamspeak App.
Teamspeak requires a license for commercial use. The private use is completely free of charge.
Newer and more modern is Discord. This is a free program for instant messaging, chat, voice and video conferencing. The service can be used as a web application in a browser or with proprietary client software on all common operating systems.
While Teamspeak is the more secure version and allows control over the shared information, Discord is a cloud service from the USA. Sensitive topics should not be discussed in either. In this case, the classic team call or telephone is more suitable.
The perfect working tool for smaller teams and companies
While the Teamspeak App is quite technical and has a limited usability, the Discord App shows the origin of the gamer culture at first sight. The default settings of a new Discord Server are set too freely. Here a short configuration is necessary to avoid that “strangers” suddenly appear in the channel.
If you don’t mind these things, you will get a valuable addition to master the upcoming communication challenges.
Author of this article Dirk Apel