Communication Channels: What Should Hybrid Businesses Look For?

During the pandemic peak, remote work was a necessity. Today, remote work – either fully or within the hybrid model – is a commodity for which most employees would opt.

According to the Accenture findings, reported by Apollo Technical, employees’ and employers’ preferences for the hybrid are at a close tie – making the work model a win-win solution for both sides. Furthermore, 63% of high-revenue growth companies have embraced the hybrid model and, along with it, its many benefits, such as increased productivity, enhanced employee satisfaction, and improved mental health.

However, managing hybrid teams has proved challenging in certain aspects. Namely, between 20% and 30% of remote employees reported feeling less connected to their company’s management and noted the lack of communication, training, and tools required for efficient work.

On the other hand, 54% of organization managers are concerned about remote workers posing a security risk to the company’s confidential data.

Hybrid seems to be the future of work – but only if businesses manage to overcome common communication breakdowns and establish efficient methods for seamless sharing of information, ideas, and sentiments.

In this article, we will discuss different types of communication channels, and their pros and cons in the business setting. Moreover, we will share tips on how to choose the ideal channel for your company and outline some key points to consider when choosing the best communication tools for your hybrid workplace model.

What Are Communication Channels in Business?

As the name suggests, communication channels are ways through which people can transmit their messages to others. In a business setting, communication channels serve to share information, ask questions, or provide answers. They foster efficient and seamless information flow within the organization or between a company and a client.

Face-to-face communication, phone calls, emails, and instant messaging are the types of communication channels prevalent in companies.

A breakdown in any communication channel can be detrimental to work processes, customer service, and employee productivity. Conversely, establishing and maintaining straightforward and effective communication channels can yield benefits across the board – enhancing productivity, facilitating team decision-making, increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty, and fueling innovation.

Common Types of Hybrid Business Communication Channels

In the pre-Covid era, emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings were the common means of conducting internal and external company communication. The transition to fully remote or hybrid workplaces meant a steep rise in companies integrating video conferencing software and instant messaging tools into their day-to-day workflow.

Organizations that adopt the hybrid work model have the freedom to create a unique blend of communication channels that most suit their employees, clients, and managers.

In this section, we will cover some of the most standard communication channels for hybrid workplaces and examine their benefits and drawbacks.

Face-to-Face Communication

The classic – for a reason.

Face-to-face communication is very effective as it allows participants to pick up on nonverbal cues and body language, facilitating a better understanding between interlocutors. Enabling this channel of communication can be a game-changer in the success of team projects, employee onboarding, or landing a new client.

On the flip side, communicating face-to-face is inconvenient for some people, especially those with anxiety or a disability preventing them from delivering their maximum in spoken exchanges.

Besides, large organizations could find it difficult to share important notices or make plans via face-to-face meetings.

There’s also the issue of no accountability, and low legal and reference value – very important in business-client relations where even the slightest inconsistency can cost someone lots of money, time, or reputation.

Lastly, listeners in face-to-face communication generally have poor information retention. You’ve probably been through it at least once – after an hour-long meeting on the next project tasks comes repeating everything said through emails or messages to those who don’t recall the meeting details.

Video Conferencing

The effectiveness and seamlessness of face-to-face conversation in the comfort of your sweatpants. Video conferencing was among the fastest growing industries during the pandemic, with Zoom sawing a 53% YoY revenue increase in 2021. The app was so predominant in everyday life that it even became a verb.

Video conferencing is the ideal communication channel for complex decision-making, performance reviews, or any other meetings dealing with delicate, internal company topics.

Externally, video conferencing is crucial when clients expect to see the people they pay face-to-face, e.g., during agency screenings and assessments, meet-the-team meetings, or when trying to mitigate a strained company-client relationship.

So, video conferencing provides all the pros of face-to-face meetings, within the comfort of remote work, and even turning the video off on a bad hair day. Moreover, this communication channel is less exhausting compared to in-person meetings, yet encourages personalization, productivity, and engagement.

Plus, video meetings save time and money, as they require no commuting – and they are good for the environment thanks to the cut on carbon emissions.

On the other hand, video conferencing sometimes lacks personal interactions, especially in meetings with multiple participants. There are also possible network connectivity issues that can halt the meeting’s progress. In addition, video conferencing tools provide debatable security of information, and create an issue regarding the organization of newly agreed details.

Email Correspondence

Even though one in three workers report feeling ’email fatigue’, email still remains the most popular communication channel in the business setting.

Perhaps the reason behind email’s unwaning popularity is the ability to trace and refer to a correspondence later on, as organizations usually back up all the emails that go through their company. Yet, backing everything up can cause quite a clutter – either on the server or your local device – which is why it is important to know the main types of backups and choose the best one for your business needs.

In addition, emails are simple and quick to use, and even those less tech-savvy can learn the basics of sending an email. Emails require writing succinctly and clearly – and thus are one of the greatest tests of communication skills.

Emails can seem a bit too much in day-to-day communication. However, when you are sending sensitive documents such as business plans or contracts, require a permanent record of communication, sharing status updates with team members, or communicating company-level updates – email should be your choice.

As for the downsides, we have already mentioned oversaturation with emails. However, we send and receive emails daily, even outside the business setting, and we all simply default to it. This email overload can also lead to another problem, which is missing important emails that get overlooked by the multitude of spam, promotion, and back-to-back emails.

Last but certainly not least – and we cannot specify whether it is a pro or a con, but – emails can be legally binding. It is not always the case, however, emails can become legally binding when parties limit their communication to emails alone to discuss contract details, offers, and cooperation terms.

Instant Messaging

Tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams have existed in the pre-hybrid workplace era – but remote work skyrocketed their popularity as a business communication channel.

Instant messaging (IM) is great for simple and direct contact among team members, between employees and managers, and for company-client communication.

IM tools have instant notifications of a received message, and users can type out a reply in seconds, establishing real-time communication essential for solving vital tasks.

The channel is great for quick project collaboration, confirming an info ad hoc, or when asking a colleague for their informal opinion. Such prompt communication encourages teammates to intercommunicate, thus increasing their levels of familiarity and teamwork. And all these benefits without having to double-check your grammar or mollify the message you wrote in irritation.

In addition, some IM platforms even allow file sharing and task creating within the messaging threads.

Still, instant messaging is far from the perfect hybrid communication channel. IM tools can get a little “noisy”, as instant groups appear, teammates, leave their comments, and discussions on various topics ensue. Of course, there’s always the option of turning the notifications off, but this brings about another problem of missing a vital or a time-sensitive message.

On a similar note, facilitating this informal communication between employees can blur the work-life boundary, as employees stray away from tasks into a conversation with a teammate, or continue to use the IM tools even after work to chat.

Phone Calls

Phone calls are like the gold standard when it comes to communicating urgent issues, getting quick answers, and adding a personal touch to both internal and external organization communication – with teammates, clients, or prospects.

There’s also the option of leaving a voice message when the person called is unavailable. The feature is great when the called person’s working hours are over or they are on vacation, so there’s no disruption to the work-life balance.

However, phone calls can incur massive costs, especially if the calls are made across states or continents. So, companies that predict making lots of international calls could benefit from integrating a cloud phone system that enables making calls over the Internet.

How to Choose the Ideal Communication Channel for Your Hybrid Workplace?

First things first – there isn’t a single perfect communication channel for any business environment. As we have discussed above, even the most standard, universally-accepted channels of communication are flawed.

And, most likely, your organization’s internal and external communication will have its weaknesses – but it does not mean you should not persist in perfecting it.

Rare are businesses that rely solely on one channel. For the new blend of remote and in-house work, communicational channels employed will additionally emulate the hybrid nature of the unique office circumstances.

Thus, when determining communicational channel(s) for your hybrid working model, keep several things in mind.

First, think about the nature of your employees and their preferred communication channels. For example, managers generally do good in meetings and prefer quick phone calls to resolve burning issues. On the other hand, programmers and developers are less keen on face-to-face communication and commonly work best in quick, instant chat.

Besides the strong suits, think of the employees’ characteristics that could be negatively fostered by a particular communication channel.

Perhaps your organization employs foreigners who do not speak English or the local language fluently. Pushing them into an important internal or customer meeting could dishearten them and affect their reputation among colleagues or future clients.

Secondly, consider the types of information and materials your employees share among each other and with clients. If these are confidential, email is a sounder option. Conversely, for less strict data safety, your business could use instant messaging channels.

Moreover, look at the size and the organizational structure of your company. Are there strictly divided teams and sectors with assigned team leaders, or do you run more of a flat hierarchical structure with no middle management?

In the former business model, team leaders act as a bridge between clients, managers, and employees, assigning tasks, sharing project status, and communicating essential company information. In this case, your organization does not require bulk CC emails or Slack channels with dozens of participants. For the latter arrangement, a circular email, an IM group, or a video call can do the trick for solving any issue.

Wrapping up on the Hybrid Work Model Communication Channels

Choosing the channel of communication for your hybrid workplace is not an easy decision – but, nor is it final. Thus, whichever channel(s) you go for, allocate some time for testing their efficiency, productivity, and seamlessness.

See how well both employees and clients respond to a particular communication channel, and continually tweak your organization’s methodology to ensure maximum satisfaction across the board.

Sure, there will be some loopholes, misunderstandings, and time wasted along the way, but the bottom point is to notice the growth of your employees’ teamwork and performance, and for your clients to enjoy excellent customer service.

Finally, remember never to rely on only one communication channel as possible breakdowns could wreak havoc on your business processes.

What Are The Main Advantages Of Consumer Panels?

Consumer panels offer businesses the opportunity to receive input that is detailed, relevant, and continuing regarding goods, brands, and business practices. Your organization has the capability of doing its own market research and seeking the feedback of consumers via the use of surveys.

Not only is it possible to modify consumer panels in order to obtain feedback from a specific group of people or in order to accomplish a specific objective, but doing so also confers advantages such as enhanced customer loyalty, info pertaining current trends, as well as the generation of novel product ideas. These benefits can be obtained by modifying consumer panels.

If you are aware of the many advantages that consumer panels provide, it will be much simpler for you to determine when and how your business might profit from utilizing these panels.

Customizing the panels

One of the benefits of utilizing consumer panels is that you have the ability to create them for a certain client base or intended purpose. You may utilize this to your benefit whether your goal is to understand more about the latest product trends, examine customer behavior, or gain thorough impressions of your brand. All of these things can be accomplished by using this. Follow the link to discover more relevant information.

Panels are essential for product development

A consumer panel may offer you with a way of tracking the evolution of the process of developing your product while also supporting you in deciding the sort of items that would be most appealing to the audience that you are aiming to attract.

When your company is still in the beginning phases of the process of developing a new product, a consumer panel is an excellent method to collect input from customers regarding the product’s features, appearance, size, names, and even packaging. This feedback may be gathered in a variety of different ways.

You may then provide the chance for your panel to test out your prototype, and you can use the particular input that they provide to make changes to the product so that it is ready for sale. When you are still in the conceptualization stage of the process, you may even decide to collect fresh product and service ideas from a focus group that has been trained specifically for that purpose. Read more here.

Panels help you spot trends

A consumer panel may give information that, in addition to supporting you in the creation of products and services, can provide you with an up-close and personal look at how people think and act over the course of a particular length of time.

This data may be of assistance to you in staying abreast of trends, which will allow you to make adjustments to your brand, customer service operations, distribution methods, as well as marketing approaches that will allow you to better compete in the market and keep more of your existing consumers. The trend data that you gather from panels is often recent, accurate, and not unduly expensive to acquire, which is one more thing that works in your favor and makes the situation even more beneficial.

Panels can boost the client loyalty

Customers of a company who are provided the chance to take part in the decision-making processes of that company are likely to have a stronger feeling of loyalty toward that company. Not only are these customers likely to spend more money with your company, which will contribute to the expansion of your bottom line, but they may also recommend your services to their family members and close friends. This will help you acquire new customers and build your business.

When the general public recognizes that you make decisions on how you conduct business by taking into account the input of your customers, this can have a positive influence on the reputation of your company.

Panels are easy to use

Panels ensure that tasks will be completed in a short amount of time. Because they are already organized and stocked with participants who are prepared to take part in research, there is no need to conduct further recruitment for each new piece of research that you carry out. This indicates that your organization will be able to respond more quickly in terms of producing research and utilizing the outcomes of that study.

You get rapid access to consumer feedback when you use a peer-to-peer customer panel, which is great for situations in which you want to discover how people are reacting initially to a change that has been made to your marketing plan or brand. 

For instance, if you just released a new advertisement and want to know what your consumers think of it, you may use a panel since it is a quick and easy way to send out a questionnaire, target demographic, and get information immediately. Because of the shortened timeframes, you will be able to do further research in the long term, which will result in a deeper and more comprehensive comprehension of your target audience.

How Rising Interest Rates Affect Your Ability to Purchase a Car

Rising interest rates are a hot topic right now. Many people are wondering how they will be affected by the increase, especially when it comes to buying a car. Car prices have been on the rise for some time now, and many experts believe that this trend will continue through 2022. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it’s important to understand how rising interest rates could impact your purchase. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how interest rates affect car buying and what you can do to prepare yourself.

What are interest rates and how do they work?

Interest rates are the percentage of a loan that a lender charges for borrowing money. They can also beEarned on savings accounts and other investments. The interest rate you’re charged depends on several factors, including the type of loan, the prime interest rate, and your credit score. When you take out a loan, the interest rate is used to calculate the amount of interest you’ll owe each month.

This interest is added to your monthly payments, and over time it can add up to a significant amount of money. That’s why it’s important to shop around for the best interest rates before you take out a loan. You can use an online calculator to compare rates from different lenders and find the one that offers the lowest cost of borrowing. If you’re stuck in a high interest rate loan, it’s always an option to consider refinancing your auto loan to lower your interest rate, which will also lower your car payment.

How do rising interest rates affect car buying decisions for consumers nationally and in your state specifically?

Rising interest rates can have a big impact on car buying decisions for consumers, both nationally and in specific states. When interest rates go up, it usually means that loans for big purchases like cars will also have higher interest rates. This can make it more expensive to finance a car, and can lead people to either put off buying a new car or choose a less expensive model. In some cases, people may decide to lease a car instead of buying one outright, in order to keep their monthly payments lower.

Rising interest rates can also affect the resale value of cars, as people who are looking to trade in their old car for a new one may be willing to pay less if they know they’ll be facing higher interest rates on their loan. Ultimately, rising interest rates can have a big impact on the entire automotive market, both nationally and at the state level.

How can you prepare for rising interest rates when purchasing a car?

The interest rate on your car loan can have a big impact on your monthly payments – and the total amount you end up paying for your vehicle. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the current interest rates when you’re shopping for a new car. However, interest rates are constantly changing, and it can be difficult to predict where they will be in the future. If you’re worried about rising interest rates, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

First, try to get pre-approved for your loan before you start shopping for cars. This way, you’ll know what interest rate you qualify for and can lock in that rate for a certain period of time. You can also try to find a dealer that offers interest rate protection. This means that if rates go up during the life of your loan, you’ll still get the lower rate. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that you get the best possible deal on your car loan – no matter what happens with interest rates.

Are there any benefits to buying a car during a time of rising interest rates?

There are a few benefits to buying a car during a time of rising interest rates. One benefit is that you may be able to negotiate a lower price for the car. Since car dealerships are interested in selling as many cars as possible, they may be more willing to negotiate on price during a time of increased interest rates. Another benefit is that you may be able to get a better financing deal. With interest rates rising, lenders may be more willing to offer competitive financing deals in order to attract borrowers. Finally, rising interest rates may cause the value of used cars to decrease, so if you’re thinking of buying a used car, now may be a good time to do so.

Of course, there are also some risks associated with buying a car during a time of rising interest rates. For one, you may end up paying more for the car overall if you take out a loan with an adjustable interest rate. Additionally, if you’re planning on trading in your old car, it may be worth less due to the decrease in value of used cars. So, there are both risks and benefits to consider before buying a car during a time of rising interest rates.

The next time you’re in the market for a new set of wheels, keep interest rates in mind. Even a small increase can have a significant impact on your purchasing power. If you have any questions about how rising interest rates might affect your car purchase, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help!

All You Need To Know About Sports Betting Taxes

When it comes to sports betting, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of states’ rights in the U.S. in 2018. Since then, the legalization of gambling has risen in popularity across the country.

Some states even fast-tracked gambling legislation in 2021 for the upcoming NFL season. An estimated 45 million Americans claimed they’d be betting on NFL games last year.

Do you have to pay taxes on online sports betting? The quick answer is Yes.

Taxes on gambling winnings pertain to federal and state tax laws. Online betting sites that don’t require an SSN may differ.

Let’s take a closer look at sports betting taxes.

Federal Tax Laws on Sports Betting

The overturning of the federal ban on sports betting led to each state developing its system. The federal income tax laws remain.

According to the IRS, the federal tax on gambling winnings mandates proper documentation. A form W-2 G, Certain Gambling Winnings, must get issued by the payer (sportsbook or casino).

You’ll report any other winnings as “Other Income” on a Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Federal Tax Rate

Many sources suggest the estimated federal tax you’ll need to pay on gambling winnings is a flat rate of 24%. You may also deduct your losses.

Gambling losses may get reported when you itemize your deductions on a Schedule A (Form 1040). You may claim losses under “Other Itemized Deductions.”

The federal tax laws on sports betting apply to winnings of $600 or more. While you’ll still need to report any winnings under that amount, you won’t get taxed.

Also, you can only itemize your gambling losses if you maintain proper documentation.

How To Deduct Your Gambling Losses

For example, if you won $1,000 but lost $400, you can deduct your losses from your total winnings. Thus, your taxable income gets reduced.

If you won $10,000 in sports betting but lost $6,000, your taxable income will be $4,000.

In contrast, say you won $5,000 but lost $10,000. You’ll only be able to deduct losses from your total winnings of $5,000.

In other words, the government won’t penalize you for losing more than you won. It won’t allow any taxable credits, either.

You’ll need to keep track of your wins and losses if you plan to itemize your deductions at the end of the year. (The IRS recommends “receipts, tickets, statements, or other records.”)

Federal Penalties for Not Reporting Gambling Winnings

Federal penalties for not reporting gambling winnings carry fines up to $100,000. You may also face jail time for up to five years.

Online sportsbooks maintain logs that should be available via your dashboard. It might be a good idea to keep track of that each month. Print it out for your records.

What about state taxes on sports betting?

State Taxes on Sports Betting

You might also need to pay state taxes if you won money on sports betting within a year. You’ll need to refer to your state’s laws on taxable income.

You’ll report your winnings on your state tax returns.

These states with legal sports betting have no income tax:

  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Florida and Texas are also two major states without an income tax. Sports betting legislation is still working its way through the legal systems there.

Final Thoughts

Sports betting is a form of entertainment that has become popular worldwide. Gambling has hardly been easier with smartphones and an internet connection.

The legalization of gambling derives from the tax potential. Gambling is a massive industry. So taxes help to regulate it.

That means a better environment for players.

With state regulations in place, reputable companies may compete for new customers. Many online sportsbooks offer promotions and bonuses to attract gamblers.

Contact your sportsbook or local tax professionals to learn more about their policies. You’ll want to follow any corresponding tax laws at the state and federal levels.

Many states use taxes on gambling to fund public programs, education, and economic development.

In that regard, everybody wins.