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Why isn’t working together working? A look at work-place collaboration tools

By January 10, 2017blog

The stats are in and corporate collaborative platforms simply aren’t as popular as one might think. There are dozens of collaborative tools available for organizations to utilize but employees aren’t taking the bait and tend to – dare I say it? – slack off from using platforms.

The benefits of collaborative platforms to organizations

There are some clear benefits to using the collaborative platforms available today. Real-time feedback from employees, regardless of where they are is important for many organizations. This is particularly true for organizations that employ people who work from home, those with employees out in the field, or organizations with multiple office locations.

While email could also provide immediate feedback, the ease of using a system built to track and update project information, for example, allows for much more complex tasks to be discussed in real time. Changes in the project can be seen right away and are easily kept track of for later use. All the documents pertaining to a particular project can easily be kept in one place, with all relevant employees having access to the most updated versions at all times.

This is also a clear benefit over email when it comes to new employees. Joining a project can be daunting, but with a clear history of what has been done, what changes have been made, and how the decision to make those changes were made, joining the team becomes easier and faster.

It’s not only about keeping track of projects in a more centralized and easy-to-access way, these platforms also perform as internal social networks. It’s am easy way to keep the various internal levels within an organization in touch with each other. Whether it’s a quick happy birthday message to a colleague or a request from senior employees for feedback on an idea floating around the top floor, the platforms can help create a sense of social cohesion, camaraderie, and accountability within an organization.

The benefits of collaborative platforms to employees

Employees should also recognize the unique opportunity for professional recognition and advancement provided by use of these platforms. Using collaborative tools allows employees at all levels to better understand how the company as a whole works and where his or her place is within that organization, which can increase productivity and focus their work.

It also allows for a concrete way to prove their productivity in the company, since every comment, idea, or other contribution of any kind is seen by everyone at the organization and archived.

Moreover, there are more opportunities for recognition within the organization, which in turn can lead to professional advancement. An employee may bring a good idea to his or her superior only to have their name be omitted once the idea is presented, whereas collaborative tools ensure recognition.

So why don’t employees use these tools?

There are many reasons why employees are reluctant to use the collaborative platforms available to them. A key issue is that they simply don’t have to use them to get their work done. While the platforms may benefit the organization as a whole, individual employees can fulfill their specific duties without using them, and so it seems to many to be a waste of time and energy.

Moreover, we are all spoiled by the simple yet sleek and easy-to-use consumer apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. If we are to add yet another social network to the ones we already use for pleasure, we expect the same standards. Many of the collaborative platforms available today have poor user interfaces and fancy, yet unnecessary, functionality.

Finally, if employees don’t see senior staff in their organization using the collaboration tools, their incentive to use them drops drastically. The personal gain that provides one of the main impetuses to start using the platforms is far lower if those senior to my position aren’t going to log on and see my contributions to the team.

Is there a future for collaborative tools?

There are certainly many reasons why organizations would want to use collaborative tools, from archival purposes to encouraging teamwork and accountability among employees.

Some changes need to come from the product itself. Familiar, intuitive interfaces and simple functionality will make using the platform more appealing.

Other changes need to come from within the organization. Senior employees need to make a point of using the platform to show its usefulness. More than that, engaging in dialogue, listening to ideas and utilizing them, and giving credit when due will incentivize employees to get on board as they realize that they have personal recognition to gain.