Workplace collaboration success is being driven by new technology and changing attitudes about human interaction. CIOs and IT managers are increasingly looking to technology to increase efficiency and reduce the costs of exchanging information and ideas. The success of new workplace collaboration solutions are measured by their ROI; how much they can reduce travel costs, facilitate data sharing, shorten time-to-delivery for new products, etc. At the same time, the new generation of workers who grew up in the era of the World Wide Web take it for granted that technology will drive interpersonal communications. Texting, chat, and social media that Millennials use every day will be an integral part of their workplace. Bringing together ROI and user expectations is the key to workplace collaboration success.
According to Booz & Company, Millennials, the “digital natives” born after 1990, are entering the workforce in droves. These are workers who have never known a world without the Web, mobile phones, instant messaging, and always-on connectivity. There are 41 million Millennial workers entering the workforce, and they are used to a digital lifestyle with no line of demarcation between their personal and professional lives. Increasingly, workplace collaboration success is being driven by the technology that enables this always-on, always-connected attitude; the more interactive and collaborative the better.
Millennials are shaping how we work, and what media channels will be adopted to drive workplace collaboration success. Let’s focus on three of the most common channels:
Social Media – Social media in the workplace is creating a new social business model. Millennials have indicated they want to use social tools for collaboration. According MarketingProfs, employees are often ahead of management in adopting social tools. In a recent survey, 37 percent said they could do their job more effectively if management adopted more social tools:
- 68 percent said they use social tools for communicating with colleagues.
- 50 percent said they use social tools for sharing and reviewing documents.
- 47 percent said they use social tools for communicating with customers.
- 36 percent said they use social tools to build their professional network.
- 31 percent said they use social tools for communicating with vendors.
- 31 percent said they use social tools to promote a work-related project
- 29 percent said social tools are useful for finding experts or information within the company.
Corporations are adapting the social media model within the organization, creating private social business infrastructures built on Yammer, IBM Notes, Microsoft SharePoint, and similar platforms to promote collaboration. These tools have the same feel of the familiar public social networks, they promote a sense of corporate community, and they make it easier for employees to share information, collaborate, exchange documents, chat, and generally conduct business as they are used to conducting their personal lives.
Mobile Collaboration– Increasingly, workers are using their handheld devices at work. The proliferation of smartphones and the BYOD explosion are making portable devices more popular than desktop devices for business applications. According to ReachLocal, users spend an average of two hours each day on their smartphones, and three out of five users prefer their smartphones to surf the Web.
Embracing mobile has to be part of your strategy for workplace collaboration success. Gartner analysts report that the adoption of smartphones and mobile devices in the workplace has raised new collaboration expectations among workers. They expect ready access to mobile collaborative tools for business to access email, instant messaging, and web conferencing, with or without the help of IT. The new generation of workers are looking to mobile to keep them productive 24/7.
And mobile technology is enabling new ways to collaborate. For example, tablet computers have drawing tools that make it easy to share sketches and ideas. Dashboards and new analytical tools make it easier to analyze information. Mobile devices also open up new possibilities to create a new generation of collaboration tools. A new generation of apps and mobilized enterprise applications will enable more real-time interaction and streamline business processes as never before.
The challenge is ensuring that mobile access is democratic, and everyone can access the data they need to do their job without creating separate siloes of collaboration.
Video Collaboration – Video is playing an increasingly important role in workplace collaboration success. More than ever, unified communications and public video tools such as Skype and Google+ Hangouts are making video part of everyday collaborative conversations.
Where social and mobile collaborative tools promote one-to-one interaction, for true brainstorming sharing data and ideas with a group, there is no substitute for meeting via video conference.
Video conferencing is basically a virtual meeting, although rather than demanding participants to gather in the same location, they assemble on the same collaborative video link. By using a large video screen, you can provide enough visual detail and nuance that most participants actually forget the remote attendees aren’t in the room. You can see individual expressions, body language, and share information in a manner that promotes better collaboration. Much more can be accomplished in a short time with video conferencing than with other collaborative tools. And video conferencing offers the added benefit of savings in time and travel. Participants are more productive because they don’t have to leave the office or waste time in transit. And the savings in travel costs more than pays for a video conferencing system.
So when drafting your battle plan for workplace collaboration success, consider how your employees like to collaborate. What tools are they used to using? What do they expect these same tools to be used in the workplace? If you can use collaborative tools that are familiar, and create an experience that feels intimate and comfortable, you will have greater acceptance and better results. Don’t force you users to adapt to unfamiliar collaboration tools. Rather build on the familiar and you will be sure to achieve workplace collaboration success.