When you send a message to a colleague, friend, or your significant other, do you believe its contents should stay between the two of you? Surely, this is one of the main points of an electronic exchange between you and a selected recipient – it’s meant to mimic the discretion of a face-to-face, analog conversation. And yet, as recent headlines show, that’s not always the case when it comes to workplace messaging.
Earlier this summer, news lit up when a certain streaming content giant fired three of its top executives. In a comment on a networking platform, their CEO wrote, “These were critical, personal comments made over several months about their peers.” Now, nobody in their right mind would suggest that it’s good to talk smack on your teammates. And yet, there is something Orwellian and Big Brother about these tactics that are worth discussing.
The Limit of Radical Transparency
The CEO went on to explain that the executives’ conduct went against the tenets outlined in the company’s culture code, in that the content of their communication violated their policy of “radical transparency.”
There can be little doubt that being transparent in the workplace has its advantages. These include preventing silos and cliques from forming, keeping everyone on the same page, and sharing information more readily. However, there must be some kind of line in the sand so that employees feel empowered to talk openly among themselves, much as they would if standing around the traditional office water cooler or meeting a colleague for coffee or lunch.
Of course, workers shouldn’t bully one another or constantly be deriding either superiors or subordinates. But don’t they deserve some kind of privacy so that they can air their grievances – which may well be justified and valid – without something physically or digitally looking over their shoulder and policing ever word they utter in person or on their phones, tablets, and computers? Otherwise, a company runs the risk of creating not radical transparency, but a culture of fear and intimidation in which everyone feels watched at all times, as if they were being filmed by a security camera or someone was listening to their phone 24/7/365.
The Promise of Private and Secure Jobsite Messaging
The messaging tool that the three former executives were using supposedly providing a “private” channel for them to communicate openly and candidly with each other, not the entire company. And yet in hindsight this appears to be a misnomer since even those private conversations were owned by the company so there was nothing truly private or confidential about their back and forth. If the thread contained racist, sexist, or genuinely hateful language, then the decision might have been justified. But is it possible that these three people were merely blowing off steam and expressing their constitutional right to free speech? And if the contents of their conversation were deemed to be inappropriate, perhaps a better disciplinary approach would have been to issue a warning or to create an action plan with the help of the HR department.
When we started creating Hivot – an industrial-strength communication platform for construction and industrial trades – one of our core principles was that all messages would be both secure and private. More importantly, giving you a clear understanding of who ultimately owns the conversation data being had. Whether it’s an offsite supervisor checking in to see how a job is progressing onsite, two subcontractors on the same team going back and forth about the details of a certain project, or a worker contacting dispatch to request delivery of new equipment, we believe that communication should remain between the relevant parties. There is a time and place for company owned conversation and data, and we are built for secure and private project data wholly owned by the parties that must secure that information captured during the course of business. Data is power and we respect its value to organizations whole heartedly. But a breakout private conversation between two individuals should stay that way.
In keeping with this aim, we’ve built supporting security and privacy features to give you and your colleagues peace of mind that you can say what you need to in order to complete high quality work, without the fear of an all-seeing eye watching your every word. With heads up tools to see who owns the space you’re talking, and the ability to move to a safer location if needed. All in a single app, so you can quickly get the answers you need without having to bounce around a half dozen apps to do it.
Come join us, we think you’ll like what we’re building.