Digital Collaboration simple means using digital technologies for collaboration in the workplace. Organisations are now being rushed towards fast tracking digital collaboration due to Covid. Digital collaboration has now suddenly become a necessity rather than a choice. There are now abundance of tools available for effective collaboration. Digital collaboration has enabled organisations towards digital workforce.
There are 3 key benefits with Digital collaboration including Communication, Connectivity and Productivity
Entirely changed the way we communicate and engage with each other. Collaboration tools has rapidly transformed the ways we share information. It has promoted online and active internal communication (i.e… instant messaging). Teams now interact far better. Collaboration tools have become a cohesive medium for communication between employees.
Allowed employees to be connected from their mobile devices promoting flexible working anytime and anywhere. Remote working has become the new norm. Employees are now well informed, information is always available and up-to-date. Promoted flexible working in turn attracts top talent
Improved creative thinking. Access to information from anywhere and anytime has become the standard for organisations to adopt. Collaboration tools has enabled better job satisfaction for the workforce. Also promotes a healthy work-life balance
Implementing digital collaboration tools and having the right approach is really critical for successful employee adoption. Slack has published in one of the article about “Part 4: What makes for good team collaboration?”
As well as having positive impact for the employees these collaboration tools have got insidious side effects if not used properly.
Side effects of Digital Collaboration if not adopted correctly
There are now abundance of tools available for effective collaboration which comes with its own challenges. An example of categorisation of the set of digital collaboration tools can be seen below (Ref : The future of work by @pinverrr)
Digital Collaboration enabled us to move forward, if not ensured right user adoption it could lead to many side effects. Some of these include
All of these collaboration tools comes with the capability of notifying the person. At times employee is crowded with endless notifications from colleagues, managers, company etc.., distracting from being productive.
Notification can be from – whatsapp, slack, teams, outlook, website etc..
Since employees can communicate using collaboration tools sometimes this tends to having a side effect on employees not wanting to talk face-to-face. This then becomes a conversational challenge when met face-to-face.
Awkward moments when you sit face-to-face – do not know how to react, how to keep conversation going, how to focus on one topic, how to respond with out voice trembling sometimes etc..
Too many tools
Allowing employees to utilise too many tools will become daunting to keep up for the overall community. Cross communication becomes very difficult to keep up. Not everyone is using the same platform for the same purpose.
Missed communications – did not know the time change for the meeting, did not receive the notification about the due date for appraisals, did not know the deadline to complete mandatory training, did not know application is ready for testing etc..
Too much information from too many channels (multiple platforms). Not everyone is interested in every type of information or update, certain teams would need certain type of information.
Right information not available at your finger tips – not interested about devops (do not know what that means), not worried about license expired (not part of my role), not excited about marathon etc..
Alongside Communication, Connectivity and Productivity digital collaboration should be accompanied by
Organisation has to clearly define a communication strategy and outline the set the tools that will be used for each type of communications. Communication strategy should encompass both internal and external communication. Internal communication is very crucial for digital collaboration for the workforce. Working with IT a clear set of tools should be identified and agreed. Defining the right tool for the right type of communication is important and should be reviewed year-on-year. All of this should be available for all workforce to see and should be part of the onboard process. If a specific team would like to use a special tool it should be discouraged unless that hinders day-to-day working of that team which is very niche.
Once a set of tools are clearly defined there should be a clear policy of what should and should not be communicated both internally and externally. All of this tools should have some filters and policies applied to govern the misuse of the tool. Any such misuse should be dealt with carefully as this might be due to lack of awareness or training. Just like any other tool this should be adhere to regulatory compliance, such as GDPR. All most all platforms now a days are providing a predefined set of policies and rules which would need configuring and assign the right owner for monitoring purposes.
Software as always comes with a risk. All risks for the platforms should be clearly defined and maintained. Each of this risk may fall into one of the 4 categories including Avoidance (eliminate, withdraw from or not become involved), Reduction (optimize – mitigate), Sharing (transfer – outsource or insure) and Retention (accept and budget). All risk should be recorded in the risk register and should be either accepted or mitigated. Risks should be reviewed regularly and tracked.
Even with the best of tools available training is mandatory. Especially if an organisation is advancing into to digitalisation there always will be a cultural shift and to ease any of the discomfort training compulsory. Sometimes it might be daunting if not everyone is on board with this, hence as many roadshows, show and tell, classroom training, virtual training, training videos etc.. are recommended to be implemented.
As Mark Richards mentions in his book ‘If “Communication Is King,” then clarity and leadership are its humble servants.’
Similar to any transformation, implementing digital collaboration is a bigger change which will follow Kubler-Ross Change Curve as shown below
- Digital collaboration platforms – the benefits and pitfalls for employers
- Understanding the Kubler-Ross Change Curve
Digital collaboration if approached correctly, it will become a key milestone for organisations goal to digital workforce. All of the frustrations mentioned above does not seem much to start with but over the period will become a daunting subject to discuss. Right first time is the best approach you can take in order to achieve success.
ACS has helped organisations in guiding and setting up digital collaboration platforms. Complete the form and you can receive a FREE no obligation consultation. we will offer as much advice as we can.