As digital transformation rocks organizations across all industries, business leaders are constantly looking at ways to improve their business and bottom line.
For many, this means looking inward at internal processes and policies to discover how to operate more efficiently and improve productivity. The effective adoption of workplace collaboration applications allows businesses to do just that.
According to Smartsheet's 2017 Enterprises Collaboration Report, over 80% of IT decision-makers say that collaboration apps are used across their company, with seven out of 10 indicating that they have a top-down strategy in place for those tools.
Additionally, more than 50% of these respondents said that their company used at least six different collaborative apps for business, with 16% indicating that they actually used more than 10 different tools.
In this article, we explore some reasons behind this surge in collaboration and why entrepreneurs and business leaders will be better off adapting to it.
It's perhaps fair to say that most modern workplaces endeavor to be social and collaborative affairs, and with good reason. A Stanford study from a few years ago found that even the mere perception of working collectively on a task can supercharge our performance.
"The results showed that simply feeling like you're part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges," the researchers say.
A similar finding emerged from a recent joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College. It found that companies that promoted collaborative working were 5 times as likely to be high performing.
Collaboration applications emphasize transparency in all aspects of the business. This isn't limited to employee functions, but also a client and end-user-facing functions. With collaborative apps, the details of a project are available so that no employee is working in the dark, unaware of how their hard work is impacting the business. The same goes for organizations showcasing work to clients - client relations can be improved with increased transparency.
Communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Bottle can boost employee morale and collaboration by simply connecting different people with one another.
"New collaborative technologies do more than just digitize old ways of doing things; they make new ways of doing things possible." - Accenture
Workflows are just beginning to be disrupted and by adopting collaborating software now, you are preparing your team and hence your business for future disruption. The key here is to adopt workplace collaboration software that can be used by multiple groups of people; otherwise, you are just further siloing each department by equipping them with different tools.
Over the last five years, remote teams have grown by 44% and the pandemic has only accelerated this growth. Even traditional companies are now reducing the required in-office workdays for their employees. With more and more days out of the office, workplace collaboration applications are absolutely necessary to not only keep employees connected but also allow them to experience company culture.
As mentioned, communication platforms such as Slack or Bottle immediately equip team members with efficient ways of communication regardless of where they are in the world.
"We need to connect everyone in order to innovate. We want to be very diverse. There is an unwritten rule that the more diverse we are, the more chances we have to innovate." - Deloitte
In fact, the same Deloitte report suggests that workers, in general, were 17% more satisfied with their workplace culture as a whole when they had access to effective collaboration tools.
Ultimately, by adopting collaboration software that improves productivity, decision leaders aim to improve overall ROI. After all, adopting technology for the sake of it only to remain stagnant or even take a step back, is the antithesis to digital transformation.
Consider this statistic: Deloitte indicates that improved employee engagement can be worth about 20% of the operating income of large enterprises. That means that adopting software that improves employee engagement can be a relatively easy win for your bottom line. On top of that, consider another piece of research out of Australia. Deloitte discovered that the Australian economy will lose about $9.3 billion in value if it doesn't begin adopting collaborative-type technologies in the workplace.
Even more, only one out of five businesses without collaborative strategies outgrew the market, compared to 30% with a middling strategy and 52% with an important strategy.
Once purpose has been established, it's important to ensure that your work environment all works towards supporting and promoting collaborative working. There are a number of systemic factors that influence how we behave at work, whether it's how information flows through your organization, how decisions are made, the physical design of your workplace, or how you measure and reward employee behaviors.
Even though collaborations can increase workplace productivity, incite creativity, build a sense of community, fill employees with a strong sense of purpose, improve problem-solving, give them a goal to strive for, and can lead to groundbreaking innovations and ideas, it remains one of those commonly underutilized instruments in the workplace.