At the end of 2017, the Gallup State of the Global Workplace report found that 85% of employees are not engaged at the workplace. This is a huge percentage, and in terms of loss of productivity, it comes to a whopping $7 trillion.
Many experts are looking towards technology as a possible solution for improving employee engagement and productivity. In fact, collaboration tools are expressly designed with the purpose of improving teamwork and team productivity.
However, it turns out that 69% of workers end up wasting up to an hour a day just navigating between the different collaboration apps.
So instead of saving time and improving productivity, these tools are having the exact opposite effect.
In this article, we talk about the major problems with enterprise collaboration platforms today and how they can be fixed.
What is an Enterprise Collaboration Platform?
An enterprise collaboration platform is basically software that enables teams to collaborate with one another and become more productive.
Communication is one of the key features of these tools, whether it’s text-based, audio or video conversations. Collaboration tools also enable the integration of various other apps that enhance productivity and improve engagement.
These include file-sharing apps, reward systems, polls, virtual meetings and so on.
Over time, enterprise collaboration software has really made a place for itself in most organizations.
Companies like Slack are valued at $17 billion and other collaboration tools like Trello and Asana are not far behind. In recent times, feature-rich tools like Flock, Podio, and Gridle have also made their mark.
The problems with Enterprise Collaboration Platforms and their possible solutions
While collaboration tools have seen large scale adoption by many companies, they are often not harnessed to their full potential. Sometimes, they are even over-used and become counter-productive.
Here are some of the most important problems with using Enterprise Collaboration Platforms and how they can be overcome.
- No strategy on using collaboration tools
This is a problem that is not specific to collaboration tools alone but in fact, applies to the usage of most SaaS products.
Companies start replacing manual processes with functional software whether it’s in recruiting or learning or billing keeping only the immediate improvements in sight.
There is no vision on how to improve the overall professional life of an employee keeping these various tools in mind.
In fact, simply adopting these tools one after another with such a short-term point of view can end up overwhelming and confusing the employees.
It’s important to have the bigger picture in place when you implement the use of a collaboration tool.
It shouldn’t be just an easier way for employees to communicate within the company; it also should be a pathway for them to collaborate better and be more productive.
2. Not involving employees
This is one of the key challenges to the successful implementation of enterprise collaboration platforms. The most successful initiatives are those that are led by employees, or at least emerge from their major concerns.
Most companies don’t have regular surveys to get feedback about things like culture, collaboration, and team productivity.
As a result, they end up implementing enterprise collaboration software without a thorough understanding of their employees’ pain points.
At the end of the day, employees usually end up with a variety of tools, none of which are addressing their real concerns.
Getting employee involvement from the very outset is a huge part of implementing an enterprise collaboration platform.
If employees’ concerns are heard and incorporated before deciding which tool to use, and which features to implement, the chances of success will go up dramatically.
3. Lack of training
This is one of the most easily solvable yet often overlooked issues when it comes to enterprise collaboration software.
Since most of these tools don’t have a very steep learning curve, managers don’t feel the need to have a user training in place.
Most of the times, the training is a cursory half-an-hour session with a colleague. In many cases, it’s not even that.
As a result, employees have to learn to use the tool on their own. While some employees become accustomed to the tool, others never get as comfortable and there remains an element of hesitation.
Since the purpose of collaboration tools is to improve individual and team productivity, an employee’s comfort level is critical.
Luckily, this is a very easily solvable problem. It’s not difficult to design a short training module based on all the key features of the software and how they’re used through the organization.
This helps new employees get on the same page from day one and it gives everyone a chance to establish the desired level of comfort.
4. Goals are not clearly outlined
This is another problem that happens because of neglect. Since collaboration tools are not traditionally associated with quantitative outcomes, managers ignore KPIs to measure performance.
This makes it easier for the tool to be taken less seriously as there is no measurable impact that can be seen.
While it’s true that many of the outcomes will be largely qualitative, it’s not very difficult to quantify certain goals.
For instance, you can always ask important questions like “Did the integration of our customer support system with our internal collaboration tool result in a shorter time to respond?” or “Did we reduce our time to fix bugs by integrating our monitoring tool with the messaging tool?”
Keeping track of KPIs will help employees see the immediate benefits of using the software which will go a long way towards encouraging adoption.
5. Forcing employees to use the tool
With collaboration tools, there is a very fine line that often gets crossed. Most collaboration tools can enable a flurry of notifications and constant real-time information.
This may work well for some people based on their job role and their own nature. But it can also backfire terribly in other cases.
Many employees feel that they don’t need constant notifications or information overload to be productive. In fact, some employees feel the hyper-connectedness is actually counterproductive and takes a toll on their mental health.
It’s important to customize the tool in a way that works for every employee. Understand their needs and enable them to configure their account in a way that works for them.
Opting for a collaboration tool that allows for that degree of flexibility and customization will also go a long way in winning over skeptical employees.
6. Too many tools
This usually happens when companies have a more short-term and narrow outlook. They replace a task with a particular tool that has limited functionality.
The next time they face a similar problem, they implement the use of another tool. As a result, employees are wasting time every day shuffling between different tools and feeling overwhelmed.
It’s important to have a more comprehensive approach. Figure out not just your immediate needs but also possible future needs so that you select a tool that is more broad-based and is amenable to a variety of integrations.
At the end of the day, enterprise collaboration platforms are no longer a choice. Most companies have to use some kind of collaboration tool to stay on top of things.
However, there’s a fine line where the tool stops building productivity and becomes an inconvenience.
Understanding the reasons behind it and taking proactive measures to correct it is the only way to find the right balance.
Once things are on track, you will be able to leverage collaborative software to the maximum possible extent and derive great value for both your employees and for the team as a whole.
What problems have you faced with enterprise collaboration platforms? Let us know in the comments below and if you liked the blog do subscribe for more such exciting content.