For years, workers across all industries have used plain-text email as their main source of workplace communication. Email will continue to be the lifeblood of how we share information at work, but can we improve such text-heavy modes of communication — and our productivity? The latest U.K. productivity data shows a continued stagnation: In the first three months of 2019, output per hour was down 0.2% compared to the same period of 2018.

There is no single solution to the productivity puzzle, but it’s apparent that businesses must find better ways of training and upskilling employees. Common barriers to effective knowledge-sharing include an over-reliance on email, unengaging training formats, lengthy process documents that nobody reads and — perhaps most importantly — resistance to change. But a changing workforce and a constant fight for attention means we must find new, more modern ways to share information.

In our personal lives, we increasingly turn to more visual methods for sharing with friends, family and co-workers alike. As of June 2018, Instagram had one billion monthly active users, up from 90 million in January 2013. And multimedia messaging app Snapchat has seen an increase of 157 million users in just the past five years.

Applying this visual communications approach to the workplace can bring impressive rewards. TechSmith’s research on “the value of visuals” found that by enriching workplace communications with images and video, employees can gain more than 30 minutes per week in productivity, amounting to approximately $167 billion in reclaimed productivity each year. Using a combination of economic calculations and scientific research into how the brain processes information, the research also found that over two-thirds (67%) of employees are better at completing tasks if instructions include visual content than when they are given in plain text alone.

Using visuals can help your business overcome many of the common knowledge-sharing pitfalls and increase your organizational productivity. Many people assume that visual and video content are too time-consuming and too expensive to fit into their current workflows, but that belief is not necessarily true! With the right tools and the right focus, anyone can create high-quality visuals and video — without the need for formal training. Here are some tips.

Be Fleet of Foot

Using video and other visuals doesn’t need to be a laborious, time-consuming process, and you shouldn’t need a lot of specialist equipment or expertise. Think about how you can use basic technology like your smartphone and readily available video-editing software to create short, effective videos. Even the simplest videos and visuals can have a huge impact on your ability to effectively and efficiently communicate complex concepts. After all, content relevance is more important than top-quality production.

Take Inspiration From Social Media

The success of Facebook and Instagram Stories can provide inspiration for workplace communication. Consider using concise, visual packages to convey short snippets of information. Annotations and text overlays can help to clarify your message.

Stay Focused

When you’re making a video, hone in on the key message, and start with simple production values. When you’re using images, make use of text labels and other visual elements to really focus your viewer on your main message.

Don’t Be Afraid to Dive in

Don’t be afraid to experiment with new mediums and see what works. If you currently produce a lot of documentation that nobody is reading, you might find a video explainer to be a much more effective way of engaging your audience.

Use Winning Visuals

There is a clear business case for making your corporate communications more visual. As the online consumption of images and video continues to rocket, and research shows that visuals can make a significant difference to worker productivity, it’s imperative that training teams harness that power. Breaking away from the same old communication methods of plain-text emails and wordy PowerPoint presentations is a must for companies that want to get ahead.

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