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Streamlining Collaboration

In today’s world, the old saying “work smarter, not harder” can seem impossible. Growing work demands combined with increased competition and the ability to work anywhere at any time have left workers with no excuses to be offline. The irony is that the very same tools that have created this environment are supposed to be making our jobs easier.

However, several recent studies suggest that the technologies we employ to make us better at our jobs are actually making us less productive. A 2014 Harris poll of employees and hiring managers identified mobile device usage, Internet surfing, email, and social media as the top productivity killers. Another recent survey found that workers are interrupted by themselves or others every three minutes – particularly by email - and that once distracted, it can take up to 23 minutes to get back on track.

More people are working remotely, leading to more emails and less face-to-face conversations. A recent Gallup poll revealed that the average worker telecommutes two days per month. And this doesn’t include business travelers working on the road, workers in satellite offices, or consultants in their own offices -- all common scenarios in today’s enterprise. These people all need to collaborate with each other to get their jobs done.

Enterprises have been working tirelessly to keep up with evolving technology and ensure that their employees have the tools they need to collaborate in this increasingly extended enterprise. However, according to a survey from Alfresco, 98% of connected workers rely on collaboration to get their work done, and 83% of those workers rely on technology to collaborate, but 59% find these tools challenging. What’s an organization to do? Here are three steps.

  1. Cut the clutter. Reverse productivity is likely due -- at least in part -- to the number of different tools on the market and in use in organizations today. Just the sheer volume of applications can be overwhelming and create organizational siloes that lead to errors, miscommunication, and wasted time trying to piece everything together. As a first step, enterprises should take stock of their digital environment -- all of the apps, devices, and IT systems. Get rid of the ones that aren’t being used and evaluate all of the others.
  2. Invest in tools that are simple & flexible. Choose tools that offer best ease-of-management along with deployment flexibility. Remember that the easier a solution is to use, the faster it will be adopted. Cloud-based tools are a great option for enterprises, but should allow secure mobile access and collaboration, providing the option to be installed on premises or in a private cloud. Enterprises also should avoid becoming locked in with one vendor by choosing a platform that offers freedom of choice and the opportunity to leverage existing and new technologies. Finally, enterprises should choose a platform that doesn’t require an upfront license fee, opting for a subscription-based model.
  3. Integrate everything. New technology isn’t a save-all. Even in the best scenarios, different people and teams will need different solutions. All of these solutions need to be integrated. However, integrated technology isn’t a save-all either; tools need to be integrated with business processes. Otherwise, organizations could end up back at square one; people tend to create workarounds to achieve their objectives. Integration gives organizations the ability to maintain control of enterprise assets, leading to less risk and better collaboration.

Productivity in the workplace drives business growth and success. However, it seems that, as a society, we are getting less productive. This shouldn’t be the case given the number of technological tools at our disposal. Now is the time to evaluate our collaboration tools to ensure that all of them are really helping. Ultimately, by addressing productivity downfalls, organizations will revolutionize the way they do business.