Are Work WhatsApp Groups Really Ever A Good Idea?

In this article, we’d like to pick your brains about a pretty controversial topic – work WhatsApp groups and whether or not they’re more trouble than they’re worth?

We aren’t just pointing the finger of accusation at WhatsApp here either. We’re basically referring to any instant messaging software or app which enables you to create groups or conversations which involve multiple participants.

Let’s take a closer look at why work WhatsApp groups have gained such ‘Marmite’ status…

The pros of having a work WhatsApp group

We’ll start with the good news first because there are plenty of benefits attached to creating professional instant messaging groups, such as:

  • Quick and easy file sharing when email or servers are inaccessible or inconvenient.
  • Round-the-clock communication for businesses or employees who require it.
  • More rapid responses for when you need a quick-fire answer or immediate information.
  • Relationship building and the fostering of social bonds which then benefit communication lines ‘back at the office’.
  • Group communication inspires more creative thought and more seamless idea-sharing.
  • More efficient communication between staff who job share or work shift patterns.
The problems that professional WhatsApp groups can create

The bad news? Group communication apps can open doors to…

  • Behaviour which might be construed as exclusion or bullying if somebody is left out.
  • Difficulty drawing the line between what counts as work time and what counts as personal. time, which can then pose problems when it comes to dealing with any issues that might arise.
  • Poor mental wellbeing for those who aren’t completely comfortable with modern technology.
  • Poor mental wellbeing for those who find constant communication stressful or overwhelming and prefer to draw clear division between their personal and professional worlds.
  • Distraction from the tasks at hand as the boundaries between social and professional use blur.
Our tips on managing work WhatsApp groups well

As problematic as they can undoubtedly be, instant messaging groups can be extremely useful for modern, mobile teams who demand constant communication. Let’s face it, they can be a whole heap of fun too and where else would you share the embarrassing photos of your workmate face-planting a kebab after Friday night drinks?

So, here are some pieces of advice to help you make WhatsApp (and similar) work:

  • Make sure nobody is excluded that shouldn’t be as like we said up there, this skirts dangerously close to the legal territory of bullying if taken too far.
  • Set clear boundaries between work and play – set up a separate group purely for social interaction and sharing memes if needs be.
  • Avoid any taboo topics or questionable content – this includes anything offensive or aggressive but also anything a bit risky regarding other members of staff. You never quite know when it might come back to bite you.
  • Consider staying out of it if you’re a senior member of staff or in a managerial position as you might end up in a sticky situation that is a challenge to get out of.
  • If you’re a business owner, consider including some best practice guidelines around instant messaging groups in your company policy. It is the 21st century after all.

Are you and your colleagues part of a WhatsApp group? Do you find it to be friend or foe of professional relationships? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or speak your mind over on Twitter or Facebook.