Are you really getting your collaboration tools right?

Published on the 30/08/2018 | Written by Heather Wright

Collaboration with your peers

Employee engagement: Is there an app for that?…

It’s been hailed as a way to boost employee engagement and with it company profits – just pick the right (or hip/cool/groovy) collaboration tools and watch engagement and productivity improve. 

Back in 2012, McKinsey claimed social technologies, such as enterprise collaboration systems, could raise the productivity of ‘knowledge workers’ (now there’s a term you don’t hear much these days) by 20 to 25 per cent. They found that workers were spending an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing email and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues to help with specific tasks.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to sourcing collaboration technologies won’t adequately address their needs.”

Since then the collaboration market has soared as increasing numbers of people work remotely and Agile teams become de rigueur. Where once options were limited, today there’s a veritable cornucopia to chose from including Slack, Microsoft Teams and Yammer, Cisco Spark and Jabber, RingCentral with Glip and Avaya with Zang, not to mention Google and Facebook Workplace. Even Amazon has gotten into the game with Chime.

In fact, Synergy Research Group notes that the ‘fragmented’ collaboration market has a long list of disruptive and high-growth companies, with more than 160 vendors and service providers tracked in its collaboration research.

The wider market for collaboration tools, which includes enterprise voice, UC applications, telepresence, email software, enterprise content management, enterprise social networks and hosted/cloud communications and applications, reached an all-time high at just shy of US$10 billion in Q4 last year according to Synergy Research Group. More recent figures weren’t available. 

The market tracking company says teamwork applications, which includes Cisco Spark and Slack, is an emerging and ‘super-high growth area’.

But despite the hype and expectations, a new report from LogMeIn has poured cold water on employer enthusiasm for their collaboration technologies, suggesting many aren’t getting it right in their employees eyes.

The report shows 85 percent of A/NZ businesses have invested in collaboration technologies in an effort to foster improved performance and increased engagement, but 49 percent of employees doubt these are the right tools.

In the other bad news, workers who didn’t have access to their preferred tools reported a significant business impact in terms of productivity decline (58 percent), disengaged employees (56 percent) and employee turnover (45 percent).

Lindsay Brown, LogMeIn APAC vice president, notes that employees’ working habits and requirements vary. 

“Organisations have a mix of desk bound employees, highly mobile staff and everything in-between. A one-size-fits-all approach to sourcing collaboration technologies won’t adequately address their needs.”

Finding out what features, such as group chat, file sharing tools, videoconferencing or scheduling, will most benefit your users is key.

The report shows employees are looking for collaboration tool which foster productivity, with convenience. 

“Employees can’t afford to wait around for an issue to be fixed before continuing their work, and look for flexibility and easy, cross-device experiences – yet information workers are not satisfied with the collaboration technologies they have at work,” LogMeIn says. 

Even with collaboration tools in place, it’s no guarantee employees will get maximum benefit from them, with 60 percent of A/NZ technology decision makers saying many employees with access to collaboration tools are unaware of the features and as a result workers are sourcing their own collaboration applications. That’s left companies with collaboration investments that have yet to deliver the expected results for companies, LogMeIn says.

“Organisations shouldn’t start by asking which technology to use. Instead, ask first who needs better collaboration services, what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you plan to help your employees work differently. Then, and only then, can you decide which technologies to use,” Brown says.

The bottom line is that the right collaboration tools and strategy benefit both businesses and employees and deliver the ability to support employees as though it was business as usual, even when it’s not.”

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