Collaboration is critical to both productivity and employee retention. Gallup estimates that disengaged employees cost the US $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity per year, and employee turnover adds an additional $11 billion to that tally. Employers aren’t the only ones feeling the squeeze, though; 39% of employees say that their organization suffers from a lack of collaboration and that it contributes to their decision to leave. Clearly, efforts should be made to retain employees and collaboration is a very important part of that, but how can employers actually improve collaboration in the workplace?
Visual and Virtual Workspaces
Visually appealing and inspiring workspaces make employees want to go to the office, and beige cubicle farms are quickly becoming a thing of the past. As office design continues to evolve, trends are shifting toward better lighting, brighter colors, and more collaborative spaces. Importantly, the use of huddle spaces, smaller conference rooms and even smaller quiet rooms have become the norm and have proven to be effective when deployed with the right technology.
However, often the best person for the job isn’t within commuting distance to the office. As skills and employees become more geographically dispersed, employers are faced with the difficulty of making remote workers feel as engaged and effective as commuting employees. Companies with multiple locations and/or a consistent need for intercompany collaboration face a similar challenge. Effective collaboration between offices, workspaces and companies is crucial to everyone’s productivity and success.
Effective Collaboration Tools
According to a 2017 Forbes survey, 84% of employees said that video conferencing is the norm in their workplace—a number which will only continue to increase—and 93% of executives believe that video conferencing improves the effectiveness of teams. The visual engagement of video meetings improves concentration and therefore productivity of meeting attendees.
However, battling with a tool that is supposed to remove roadblocks can be doubling frustrating for employees, as is using different tools to engage different business units within the same company. To maximize effectiveness, collaboration systems or tools must be standardized, easy to use, and secure. Unfortunately, the increased connectivity brought about by collaboration tools also increases security risks, which is why collaboration tools must be secured to prevent data leakage. Enterprise collaboration tools where proper controls can be implemented to ensure security, archiving and compliance to policies are important to data security.
If videoconferencing is now the norm, what’s next for collaboration technology? Customers are demanding interoperability between video systems, and vendors are listening. A perfect example of this would be the newly announced drive between Cisco and Microsoft to enable users to join meetings between the Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams systems.
Looking further into the future, AI assistance technologies will transform how colleagues collaborate by introducing meeting management that’s interactive to the needs of the workgroup. AI can automate information gathering, meaning team members wouldn’t have to disengage with the meeting to track down data. Likewise, AI technologies can keep a digital record of the meeting and summarize key points, meaning there would no longer be a need to scrawl handwritten notes and no one’s contributions would be lost. “AI coworkers” may just be the next big thing in collaboration.