Effective Collaboration: Consolidated Tools & Flexible Working Key
New research reveals essential elements to effective collaboration
Whether we work in a co-located or distributed team, more and more of our work today is carried out online – the digital workspace exists for all of us, regardless of our physical one. However that very digital workspace lives within a unprecedentedly noisy and distracting online environment.
Despite the plethora of tools designed to help us collaborate and connect, today’s knowledge workers face new challenges when it comes to being focused and productive. New research from GoTo by LogMeIn published recently revealed that the 2,000 employees they surveyed face continual distraction and competing demands on their attention, leading to a tendency to multitask at all times – blending personal and work activities on multiple apps and devices.
A lack of consolidation in the workspace?
Even within the workspace, a lack of consolidation of apps and agreement about how they should be used to communicate effectively leads to fragmentation and confusion. People work out their own preferences and systems but they don’t necessarily inter-operate well with colleagues, and even when there is a plan it might involve the use of multiple tools and platforms throughout the day to get the work done.
The consequences aren’t hard to predict, and when we caught up with Mark Strassman, SVP and GM, Unified Communications & Collaboration at LogMeIn, he pointed out that mistakes aren’t only embarrassing and inefficient:
“Distracted employees can also pose a real security risk. When staff are dealing with sensitive information, even small lapses in attention can lead to that information being sent to the wrong person or an external party, potentially costing the entire business significant time and resources to prevent the leaked information from doing real harm”.
The research concluded that two factors are critical for the 21st century workplace to overcome these risks, the first of which is consolidating the tools used for collaboration. Getting as much as possible happening within one platform ensures minimal switching time and associated cognitive overhead, as well as avoiding confusion and risk of mistakes. With the explosive proliferation of collaboration tools on the market in recent years it’s not uncommon for app stacks to have evolved in an opportunistic and spontaneous way – so the scheduling of regular reviews should be on the agenda, to prevent duplication, fragmentation and overspending.
The second factor relates to empowering employees to get the work done in the way that suits them best, within this defined collaboration matrix. Location-independent working should be coupled as far as possible with flexibility in how the work is carried out, taking a results-oriented perspective which enables colleagues to get things done according to their own motivations and rhythms.
Flexibility in working practices
As Strassman indicated:
“As long as employees are getting work done and aren’t becoming a bottleneck, the time they choose to work should remain part of their own decision”
“And, as long as their devices remain compliant with company security standards, staff should also be able to access their work from personal devices, so that if they need to leave work a bit early, they can pick a task up again later from another location. This is especially true now that many of us are collaborating with dispersed, global workforces. You’re very likely are working with people in different time zones, and flexibility in working schedules is important for coordinating with everyone involved.”
So the future is flexible, autonomous, non-confusing, and of course digital. This sounds like a work environment we can all embrace.
Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comments below.