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Some Workplace Collaboration Trends You Can't Afford to Ignore

November 10, 2017

Although many companies—small and large—have invested in collaboration tools, they often find that their investments do not necessarily meet all of their needs. New information shows that companies are not taking all factors into account when considering how their employees collaborate. Distributed collaboration, distributed teamwork, and meeting and behavioral metrics are all important when choosing collaboration tools. Value-added resellers (VARs) should follow these trends in order to identify areas of improvement for their clients:

Collaboration is becoming more distributed – When two or more people need to transfer complex information for a common purpose or to meet a common goal, they are collaborating. Distributed collaboration allows people to work as an integrated team across time and distance for a specific purpose. According to a recent survey, 87 percent of employees work, at least occasionally, on distributed or hybrid teams, and 38.7 percent spend over 65 percent of their work time on distributed or hybrid teams.

Distributed teamwork is common for many projects – Most employees are part of three to five teams on average, regardless of the size of the business. This statistic shows growth in distributed collaboration. According to the survey, almost 78 percent of workers claim that they participate in two to seven projects simultaneously, with an average of five per person. While company size and role in the business can affect the number of simultaneous projects an employee is involved in, the average across all roles and company sizes is three to four projects that employees work on at the same time.

Meeting metrics are needed – Meeting time can be extensive and often unproductive. According to the survey, 40 percent of employees spend half of their time in meetings. About 30 percent of employees spend most of their time in problem-solving and project status meetings. Around 40 percent of workers spend little or no time in decision-making, brainstorming, and strategic planning meetings, but instead spend time in problem-solving and project status meetings. According to the survey, 37.8 percent of companies used no meeting metrics, and the current metrics being used, including number of people and frequency of meetings, do not provide much information about the meeting content and interpersonal interactions. Considering this is where all the meeting value comes from, meeting metrics should be modified to include these topics.

Behavior modification for meetings – In order to improve meeting behavior, employees should stick to an agenda and avoid discussing old topics. The top meeting issues are:

  • No clear, pre-set agenda communicated in advance of the meeting
  • Stakeholders not prepared or not in attendance
  • Personal agendas
  • Rehashing of old topics and decisions
  • Late arrivals
  • Not communicating effectively

In addition, behavioral metrics can improve meeting value. These could include:

  • Value of interpersonal interactions in the meeting
  • The number of decisions to come out of the meeting
  • The percentage of time spent engaged (paying attention) in the meeting

Add these behavioral modifications to technology and companies will find that collaboration, even distributed collaboration, becomes more effective. Teams that use collaboration tools like video or Web conferencing can use built-in tools in order to evaluate meeting effectiveness. Technology can help by providing feedback in real time to the meeting members through various types of real-time graphic displays, surveys, comment sections, and more. VARs that can explain the value of both behavior and technology in meetings and how to measure effectiveness will be successful selling unified communications tools to their customers, who in turn will be able to conduct successful meetings with distributed teams.

Does your company follow trends in workplace collaboration whether they include technology solutions or not? Please comment below.