When was the last time you said, “I just don’t get enough emails?” If you’re like most working people, you probably get far too many emails each day, which in turn prevents you from getting work done. As email has become the default way of communicating it’s shifted the way we perceive it as a tool. While it used to be viewed as a time saver, it’s now often seen as an unpleasant burden. According to a study by McKinsey the average employee spends 28% of the workweek reading and answering emails. Email is supposed to save time and help us work together, but too often it simply takes time away.

The email dilemma represents one of the main digital challenges plaguing organizations today: we want people to collaborate, but we aren’t actually giving them the tools to make it happen. Instead we’re telling people to simply send more emails and keep everyone in the CC. The end result is overflowing inboxes, slower decision making, and frustrated employees.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a vast range of new digital tools on the market that reduce our reliance on emails and make collaboration easy. By shifting our company mindsets we can ensure our employees have the tools they need to work well together.

Get Your Culture Right First

Before you start talking about tools you’ll need to take a look at your company culture. If the culture is discouraging collaboration through poor leadership examples, misaligned incentives, or anything else, you’ll need to address that prior to working on a technology shift. The best tool in the world won’t work if your people don’t have the mindset required to use it.

This is not to say your culture has to be perfect – no company culture is – it simply means you can’t afford to have major obstacles to technological adoption.

To assess the collaborative nature of your culture we recommend starting with three areas:

  • Leadership

Are your leaders and managers accessible? Do they quickly share information and invite feedback? If they do, collaboration is probably being encouraged. If they don’t, you’ll need to encourage them to become more collaborative before taking any other steps.

  • Transparency

Does your company internally address how things are going with the business and employee morale? If your organization has a habit of burying things that could be improved, collaboration will be impossible. Employees can only work together when they are in an environment where they feel safe talking about successes, failures, and how to make things better.

  • Incentives

Are team efforts and results recognized and rewarded? Or do only individual results count? Collaboration is more likely to happen if teamwork is not just encouraged, but rewarded.

By ensuring your culture is one that truly fosters collaboration you’ll create an environment where digital adoption moves quickly because employees are open to anything that makes it easier to work together.

Address Security Concerns

When it comes to software, IT managers have the misfortune of constantly saying, “No,” to technology requests. If you’re going to adopt policies that introduce more tools to the company’s ecosystem you’ll need their support. Take the time to work with them to create policies that make it easier for people to try new tools while still respecting security needs.

Favor Simplicity and User Experience (Most of the Time)

When it comes to selecting software, it can be easy to fall into what we call the Feature Checklist Trap (FCT). Under FCT you end up excluding some very good, user friendly tools because they fail to check every single box on your list of requirements. The end result is that you buy a tool that can do 10,000 things, but is so complex that the user experience is poor, bugs are rampant, and no one wants to use it. The FCT can cause you to buy a collaborative tool that only hinders collaboration.

When looking for new tools we recommend using the MoSCoW method. MoSCoW stands for Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have and helps to determine priorities. By identifying the features that are legitimate must-haves you can then shift some of your focus to favoring simplicity and the user experience. With MoSCoW you won’t get a tool that can do everything, but you’ll get something better: a tool your employees actually use.

Allow Teams to Experiment

One of the best ways to facilitate the adoption of collaborative tools is to allow teams to test things out and report on the results. Tools that work well can be expanded, and those that don’t can be discarded without much time being lost. When teams feel safe testing new software they’ll take chances and discover new ways of working that can benefit your entire organization. Organizations that are innovative in the products they produce are usually supportive of innovations in terms of processes as well. By supporting the testing of new tools you’ll facilitate better collaboration and increase your chances of developing better products and services.

Some Tools to Look At

There are countless tools to consider. Here are some we recommend looking into:

  • Microsoft Teams: It’s email meets chat meets social timelines, and more – all in one tool! Plus, its fully integrated with Microsoft Office.
  • Slack: The tool favored by nearly every startup, Slack makes it easy for your team to keep all conversations, updates, and work in one simple, intuitive place.
  • Facebook Workplace: It’s Facebook, but for work. Very useful to helping different teams in larger organizations stay integrated and up to date.
  • Trello: Create lists, set up to-do’s, and move from one status to another. Trello is a remarkably simple way to get everyone involved in your projects.

Want to Learn More about Digital Collaboration?

Join the Digital HR Summit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 27-28 March to learn about “driving people and workplace innovation in the digital era.” The entire event is dedicated to looking at ways digital technology is impacting HR and the workplace and is a must-attend for anyone looking to improve collaboration within their organization. Learn more and register here, and use the promocode TALENTSOFT for a 15% discount on your ticket.


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