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  • Anna Izraylevich

Collaboration Tools: More Is Not Always Better

A plethora of options is fantastic when it comes to deciding on your next workout video, but the same cannot be said for collaboration software. We have entered an era where the familiar Skype icon has been joined by Slack, Teams, Zoom, Google Suite, and many more. Companies continue investing dollars to expand their collaboration portfolio in hopes that it optimizes their employees’ workflows and provides the perfect tool for any use case.

The reality? Productivity is declining and people feel overwhelmed with decision fatigue and an influx of pings, dings, and notifications. In fact, a recent study showed employees waste more than 60 minutes each day navigating between various apps.

Need even more proof? Employees say they would rather do household chores (53%), pay bills (52%), handle junk mail (45%), or clean their spam emails (45%) rather than navigate the myriad of applications. How did we get here?

Consider if your organization has fallen victim to any of the following:

  1. Establishing minimal controls or guidance around new software access and review procedures, resulting in employees freely creating accounts to a variety of platforms

  2. Investing in multiple solutions that focus on a single feature or overlap features (e.g., chat, videoconferencing, co-authoring) instead of a more comprehensive platform that can accomplish all three

  3. Deploying solutions without a change management plan, robust training, a position on preferred tools, or direction on “which tool to use when”

  4. Reacting in response to employee requests without conducting extensive research. For example, did the ask come from a small pool of new hires who just miss the platform they leveraged at their previous job and want something more familiar? Or is it a true need being expressed by a significant portion of a function or across a business?

How do I know if my employees feel overwhelmed, if the current toolset if meeting their needs, and how to provide the right level of guidance? The good news is it’s never too late to take action and boost your employee experience. Start by thinking through the items below:

  1. Survey your employees. A simple, well-structured questionnaire will give you a lot of information to start. Ask questions such as what collaboration capabilities your employees are lacking, what challenges they experience when collaborating with internal teams / external parties, whether they have sufficient guidance, and what you can do to alleviate any pain points.

  2. Conduct a tool inventory. You want a full mapping of collaboration software your employees are using and how they’re using it.

  3. Develop an enterprise standard for your organization. Try to have no more than two (ideally one) recommended solutions for each category, such as file-sharing, chat, videoconferencing, project tracking, etc. This goes a long way in reducing confusion and the myriad of incoming software requests. Even better if one solution addresses multiple categories at once. Almost 70% of employees say one unified platform would increase productivity.

  4. Create a definitive reference for “which tool to use when”. This will take care of decision fatigue and help your employees quickly select the appropriate tool for their specific scenario. Also remember to update your new-hire training.

  5. Don’t underestimate the importance of change management, training and adoption. Employees should not have to navigate through nine pages to find simple setup instructions and access information for the core recommended tools.

  6. Create an internal marketing campaign, leveraging the insights you received from the employee survey (#1) to craft messages that resonate. Speak directly to how you have alleviated specific issues reported by employees and pull out simple, bite sized instructions in a drip campaign, rather than delivering a handbook all at once.

Cited studies were performed by a RingCentral and reported by Forbes.

Anna is a Digital Workplace and product strategist passionate about disrupting and questioning the status quo. As a product and program lead at a $50B revenue professional services firm, she spends her day tackling topics like employee experience, product strategy, and digital transformation. All opinions are her own.


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