Are collaboration tools making businesses more or less productive? As remote working becomes more vital, Matt Saunders, Head of DevOps at Adaptavist, looks at the rise of Slack, Trello and Office 365, and how these news tools can help or hinder productivity.
Today’s workplace is a far cry from what it was like even a decade ago. Remote workers are exploding in numbers, whether based in satellite offices, working from home or outside the traditional hours of nine to five. The ability to communicate with team members, regardless of physical location, is driving adoption of a wide array of workplace collaboration tools.
Do collaboration tools help or hinder productivity?
It’s true, tools such as Slack, Trello, Zoom and Office 365 make it easier for teams to get work done fast and ultimately be more productive. But there’s a caveat. The always-on nature and availability of these tools can contribute to information overload and in some cases, burnout.
It’s easy to see why workplace collaboration tools can quickly become indispensable for modern teams. From file sharing to audio and video conversations, they can break down barriers and open up lines of communication across teams and departments never possible before. Teams can swarm around one channel, irrespective of their physical location, to get up to date fast. By using channels for a dedicated purpose such as discussing project issues, service outages, new product features and more, conversations can zoom in on the topic at hand for faster resolution. In essence, tailoring collaboration tools using integrations and automation capabilities can help keep teams on track and help them to action insights in near real-time.
Slack’s instant messaging capabilities help teams focus their discussions around resolving issues or progressing to the next stage of a project. For example, if your business uses a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Salesforce, you can automatically spin up a discussion channel when you onboard new customers.
What does the future of collaboration hold for teams?
In the future, we can expect to see technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality increase the effectiveness of collaboration tools – making them faster to adopt and more intuitive to use. AI and machine learning will continue to evolve the capabilities of workplace collaboration tools, leveraging team insights and bringing people together for more focused, productive, and powerful interactions.
Collaboration tools could start to become more personalised in the future. Adjusting the look and feel of these tools to suit personal preferences and needs, such as adding widgets and apps to automate required fields or having a specific colour scheme or design, you can invite a higher level of engagement on these platforms. Visual collaboration tools will also evolve to streamline workflows and make meetings more immersive and productive. As remote workers continue to gain traction, visual collaboration tools will be essential to keep remote workforces engaged.
How can you measure collaboration success?
Investing in practical training and onboarding practices is crucial to ensure teams get the most value from collaboration tools. Implementing these tools in a thoughtful and customised way will enable employees to focus on the job in hand.
To measure the success of your collaboration tools, you’ll need to establish a mix of quantifiable and qualitative objectives. For example, are your teams accomplishing work more efficiently? Take, for instance, teams that are using Jira Service Desk and Slack – has there been a noticeable decrease in the time to resolve a customer complaint? Are teams consistently meeting service level agreements? Is the tool enhancing team activities, or is it getting in the way and hindering productivity?
In addition to productivity measures, measuring employee satisfaction is also crucial. Do your employees believe the tools are helping them, or are they contributing to information overload? Do your remote workers feel like they are fully part of your team? Are the tools helping them reach their development or professional goals? Can teams access everything they need from within the tool, or are there extra steps slowing things down?
With the nature of work continually changing and becoming more flexible than at any other point in our history, we will continue to see collaboration tools playing a critical role in helping remote teams connect with others, access information in real time and communicate with ease, regardless of time zone or physical location.
By Matt Saunders
Head of DevOps