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Circling Back and Reaching Out: The Journey of Workplace Communication

Throughout history, effective communication tools have been integral to the way we live and work. Globally, we send more than 300 billion emails a day. And with access to messages just a click away, it’s easy to forget efficient workplace communication hasn’t always been so digital.

Put it in writing

Before the turn of the 20th century, the typewriter took the American workforce by storm, and in 1870, manufacturer Lebbeus H. Rogers capitalized on its success as one of the only producers of a single typewriting accessory: carbon paper. As carbon paper gained popularity, it became commonplace for employees to create instant copies of receipts, invoices and other important records to be filed and distributed as necessary.

""Nearly 50 years later, paper’s dominant role in the workplace continued with the boom of the memo. Perfect for internal use, the memo allowed colleagues to exchange shorter and more informal messages, answer questions and provide new information, all while creating a record trail for future reference. Memos also offered convenience, as mailroom clerks and postmasters handled the entire exchange — from pickup to delivery.

New tools of the trade

As the 1950s waned, the Federal Communications Commission approved new tech that took important workplace messaging in a new direction. The pager became an essential tool for emergency personnel and medical professionals, allowing them to quickly receive important job-related alerts.

 Shortly after the pager became publicly available, the photocopier made its business debut, ushering in a new era of messaging and record efficiency. The copy machine’s ability to quickly make hundreds of copies — of both outgoing and incoming documents — helped solidify photocopying as a staple in the American workforce, and the invention of carbonless paper created a cleaner copying experience.

But paper’s unopposed reign in the workplace was about to come to an end.


Send and receive

In 1965, Massachusetts Institute of Technology pushed paper aside and embraced the digital with its first iteration of what would eventually become email. The Compatible Time-Sharing System allowed users to share files and messages — all located on a central disk — from one of many remote terminals.

After computer engineer Ray Tomlinson sent the first electronic mail message in 1971, email steadily grew in popularity. Use surged when an online service began offering internet-based email through dial-up phone connections, allowing users to send emails to anyone with an email address, regardless of their provider.

Messaging at your fingertips

For nearly 30 years, email remained the most efficient way to communicate digitally. But in 2015, chat apps, already widely used by millions, gained traction in the business world, as several companies developed their own versions of instant messaging platforms specifically marketed for the workplace.

Today, employees have the ability to engage in job-related communication right from their HR tech. With question-and-answer tools built into the HR software employees use daily, response times decrease and trust blooms.

Do your workplace communication tools empower your employees to be efficient and engaged? Learn how Paycom’s single easy-to-use HR app helps your entire workforce communicate effectively.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.