- Collaboration applications in the workplace bring the promise of improved communications, yet some employees have a love-hate relationship with them, according to a report released March 24. Unify Square, a management software and services provider for Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack collaboration platforms, examined factors including the most used features, how the applications impact productivity, employee behavior and security.
- Email continues to maintain a key role in day-to-day business communications, according to Digital Workplace Collaboration Apps Report: Benchmarking Usage and Productivity, which is based on a survey of more than 500 respondents working at organizations with at least 1,000 employees. Although about 40% of workers agreed that receiving fewer emails is a benefit of collaboration apps, 74% said they have not seen a significant decrease in the quantity of emails.
- About 80% of respondents said collaboration apps boost productivity for remote work. However, more than half of C-level and Gen Z workers said one con is the expectation to respond immediately to requests. Respondents named personal conversations (41%) and incoming requests (39%) that take away from current projects as major distractions. More than half of respondents (almost 60%) said that stricter rules for using the apps would help improve work-life balance, and 42% said enforcing a set of rules would help establish expectations on employee usage.
Businesses are moving away from formal hierarchies and using more collaborative workplace models, which includes how the office is designed and communication tools, according to experts.
Millennial and Gen Z employees desire a collaborative work model that gives room for all members of a team to contribute their ideas and participate in important projects, Jim Link, CHRO of Randstad North America, told HR Dive in an interview in October. "The whole idea of collaboration seems to occur more naturally in less formal environments," Link said.
Informal workplaces and better technology allow for employees to work remotely. But whether collaboration tools help an employer communicate or hinder productivity depends on the application type and how a team interacts with it. "When these tools are used as a one-size-fits-all approach, it doesn't always end well, with employees feeling disconnected and information silos scattered across the organization," Julie Forsythe, former vice president of technology at Igloo Software, currently vice president of engineering at Auvik Networks, Inc., told HR Dive in June. "Just remember, your ultimate goal will be getting people, processes and information connected as this is essential for an engaged and productive workforce," she added.
For example, Unify Square's report found that 43% of employees surveyed said preventing distraction caused by collaboration apps is a shared responsibility between themselves and management. Alan Shen, vice president of consulting services at Unify Square, said IT departments need to be communicative regarding use of the apps. “Employees' ever-changing preferences coupled with the introduction of new collaboration technology rolling out regularly, creates a constant need for IT to be in check with employees' usage of collaboration tools,” Shen said in a statement.
It's critical for IT departments to actively engage business units to understand the risks and the role users play in managing collaboration risk, he said. According to the report, more than 60% of workers surveyed said they believe the responsibility of securing collaboration apps should lie solely on their organization's IT department.