Collaboration overload might seem like a ridiculous notion, but it’s safe to say that you can have too much of a bad thing. Too many IMs, meetings, and emails can quickly pile up for the average worker, leading to issues that reduce productivity, rather than enhancing it.
The important thing to remember in this world of UC overload, however, is that most of the time, problems can link back to a deeper organisational problem in the workplace. Simply employing new tools like workflow applications and video conferencing devices might not be enough if you haven’t put steps in place to reduce existing problems, to begin with.
More Than Just Collaboration for the Sake of It
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more collaboration in the workforce. Employees working together will always accomplish more than teams in separate silos. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the right organisation in place, you could end up investing in collaboration for the sake of it, rather than finding solutions to your business problems.
All you need to do to find an example of this issue is look at meetings. With a meeting, it’s possible to get everyone within your workforce operating on the same page. Unfortunately, meetings can also have dangerous aspects to them too. Inviting someone to a meeting means that they either attend or risk alienating their boss. What’s more, some people believe that the lack of follow-up after company meetings means you either attend or miss out on vital information.
Addressing the Causes Behind Collaboration Overload
According to one study by Bain research, the most efficient and productive companies, spend less than 50% of their time on ineffective collaboration and UC solutions. They focus on reducing “organisational drag” – otherwise known as the issues with productivity that are slowing the workforce down. This is the right approach to productivity, rather than simply implementing new technology because it’s there. The right approach to collaboration requires:
- A simplified operating model: Minimise the number of interactions required to get work done, and make collaboration simpler between those who need it.
- Align the organisation: Make sure everyone in your company knows how to use UC tools and when to maximise efficiency.
- Set a budget for time: Just as you would set budgets for financial expenses, think about how time is spent on meetings and conferences, and how that time cost can be reduced.
- Use business cases for new initiatives: Rather than implementing UC for the sake of it, produce business cases that show the need for those new UC technologies.
- Invest in real-time feedback: Over time, adapt and evolve accordingly by gathering important data about how your team is using UC to maximise their productivity. If efficiency is suffering rather than getting better, you’ll need to make a change.
Embracing the UC World
The world of UC brings with it a lot of potential, for both productivity and risk. While we’ve all gotten sick of countless pointless meetings and travel, it’s important to make sure that you don’t allow your UC solutions to become just another drain on time. If you want to make the most of collaboration software, you’ll need to think carefully about what your organisation really needs, and how strategies can be put in place that work for everyone.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.