From Lennon and McCartney to Dolce & Gabbana, it’s clear that when collaboration works it can produce magical results. Every organisation wants to know that all of their workforce can share ideas and work together in focused and productive ways. Unfortunately, poor communication can all too often ruin this dream: in a 2012 Econsultancy report 96% of executives cited ineffective communications as the main cause of workplace failures. How can we avoid this?
What are the benefits of Unified Communication?
Poor management of communication channels can do a lot to hold up great collaboration. Even simple tasks like searching inefficiently through various e-mails for relevant files and information can cause a worker to waste hours of their time every week. A report from McKinsey suggests that on average every worker could save about 5 hours of their time a week if all collaborative communications were unified.
Without a unified communications system, it’s all too common for information to be lost in the continuous drips of communication across various isolated channels. Calls are answered, e-mails come in, comments are given on paper, notes are made in a diary: it can be hard to work out what came from where when the time comes. Collaboration becomes sluggish when people aren’t sure where things are, and who knows what. A unified communications solution puts everyone on the same page.
How does UC help collaborative working?
Incorporating a system that allows for multi-author documents is a good way to make unified collaboration feel like second nature to employees. All necessary workers can edit copy within the same shared file. All their changes are saved, as well as a record of who has done what, so no mistake can derail the file. ‘Comment’ features allow for instantaneous feedback without editing the actual file.
From there, the file can go to an easily navigated online file sharing system that all employees use. Online file sharing systems mean all workers know where to go to access their files wherever they are, encouraging collaboration across any distance. In retail environments, this has eased collaboration between stockrooms and front-of-house, while vital workers in government offices can keep attending appointments in the community without missing out on developments and documents in the office.
What are the business benefits of collaborative working?
Dell is just one company that have incorporated unified collaborative systems to increase the productivity of their business. Their ‘Connected Workplace’ programme was set up in 2012—within 4 years it saved the company over $45 million and 19,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
At its core, the ‘Connected Workplace’ programme uses collaborative working solutions to increase the flexibility of workers and the number of opportunities for them to collaborate:
- Virtual workplaces let employees access the company office from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Presence systems ensure all employees know who they can contact, wherever they are.
- Online file sharing ensures all employees can collaboratively work and receive feedback on reports and documents.
- Telepresence through real-time, face-to-face video communications allows for workers anywhere in the world to attend meetings anywhere else.
The ‘Connected Workplace’ motivated and mobilized Dell’s workforce by increasing their opportunities to collaborate productively from where they needed to be. Work was free to take place in the best way for each task. Initially, Dell had 20% of its workforce participating in the collaborative working program—based on its huge success their goal now is to increase staff participation to 50% by 2020.
Can your business reap the benefits of collaborative working?
Any business can learn from Dell’s example, whatever their size. Allowing employees increased working flexibility by encouraging collaboration has been shown to raise productivity by 20%. Even incorporating simple collaboration tools within an IT network can radically improve employees’ attitude towards workplace collaboration.