With workforces becoming more mobile and dispersed, companies around the world are investing heavily in team collaboration software to improve efficiency, enhance communication and increase productivity. The market for these solutions nearly tripled in 2017, according to analysts with MZA, a U.K.-based firm specializing in global communications markets.
However, increased investments don’t tell the whole story. Very often, organizations that deploy team collaboration tools find it difficult to get employees to actively use them. Results from a May 2018 No Jitter survey indicate that team collaboration is in use at 92 percent of companies with 1,000 or more employees — but only 5 percent report that it is being used by their full user base.
That’s a significant problem. For all the demonstrated benefits of these tools, they’re only really useful if the workforce embraces them. Team collaboration has limited value if half the team isn’t on board.
Workforce resistance to collaboration tools often results from deficiencies in three broad areas — strategy, design and awareness.
One of the chief issues is that few organizations have a coherent collaboration strategy. A recent survey of 2,000 knowledge workers found that workers are using an average of four separate team collaboration applications. Seventy percent say these apps generate so much real-time communication they make it challenging to get work done. More than two-thirds of workers said they waste up to 60 minutes a day navigating between apps, and 68 percent said they toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour.
Poor design can also undermine collaboration initiatives. A satisfying user experience is essential for achieving high adoption levels, and users want business tools that are simple, intuitive and effective. Too often, however, overdesigned interfaces are cluttered with too many options and design elements that simply create confusion and frustration.
Finally, few organizations do enough to get their workforce excited about the benefits of collaboration apps. No matter how good the software is, workers won’t use it if they don’t see the value. They need to understand what’s in it for them. A formal internal marketing program can help raise user awareness and drive improved adoption. Industry analysts say such programs should focus on the following tasks:
- Establish a baseline. Before choosing a solution, conduct workplace surveys and interview key employees to establish what features are needed, how the solution will be utilized and what process improvements are expected.
- Set goals. The baseline information will be used to set goals for adoption and to create a marketing and awareness program to achieve them.
- Recruit senior management. Don’t leave awareness and education up to the IT department. These projects will require people to change the way they work. Strong, vocal leadership from the top of the organization will improve workforce buy-in.
- Continually evaluate. Measure the success of a collaboration rollout by conducting follow-up surveys and interviews with employees. That information can help you analyze the progress of the project and determine where adjustments should be made.
Team collaboration apps can foster teamwork, improve workflows and drive measurable increases in productivity — but only if they are used. Lackluster adoption rates can sink collaboration initiatives in any organization. To boost adoption of collaboration apps, organizations must develop a cohesive strategy, choose tools that are simple to use and make an organization-wide effort to promote the benefits of the technology.
September 6, 2018