Encouraging Communication and Collaboration Outside of the Inbox

Encouraging Communication and Collaboration Outside of the Inbox

In Technology by Daniel NewmanLeave a Comment

Instant messaging, video conferencing, and collaborative software platforms are making team communication happen in real time and super-efficient. It’s a wonder, then, that email is still in our vocabulary. But many die-hards are stubbornly resisting a switch from this antiquated mode of communication.

In fact, email use is expected to increase at a rate of 3 percent over the next two years, according to a report by The Radicati Group Inc. Email’s tenacity is even more perplexing when you consider how rapidly social media has penetrated our more personal digital communication habits.

While people happily tweet, share moments with Snapchat, and post to Instagram and Facebook, many are slow or even resistant to adopting more business-oriented communications software such as Cisco Spark, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Facebook’s Workplace.

Why are cloud-based collaborative tools so difficult to sell to employees? Do real-time digital platforms work personally but not in the workplace? Depending on the leadership, the answer could be yes.

Convincing Collaborators

All-in-one collaboration environments save time, make file sharing easier, and conferencing more efficient. And that’s significant when, according to CIO, over 80 percent of workers’ time is spent on collaborative activities. Realizing this, Aramark, a food facilities industry leader, switched its Capital Projects department to a UC platform to avoid the associated business risk.  Email cannot provide real-time visibility, which the company recognized as a contributing factor in subpar project completion rates.

Imagine a university dining hall that must have facilities completed by mid-August, not when the students are already back at school in the fall. Communication must be swiftly handled when deadlines are looming and, when two of the variables are food and hungry students, failure to deliver is not an option. But Aramark found that a shocking 99 percent of their work management was stuck in email.

To resolve the bottleneck, the company introduced Smartsheet as their work management platform. Smartsheet gave their capital projects group live project data including project progress reports, status updates, and timelines. Nothing got held up in an inbox or email attachment.

While few company executives need convincing of the advantages of UC platforms, other members of the business community do need to be convinced – and they are the collaborators themselves. How can leaders usher in enthusiasm for a new mode of communication?

Step Out of the Executive Box

Business leaders, in their zeal to keep up with industry advancements such as digital transformation, tend to forget that employees are the ones who perform and deliver value; technology merely helps them do it better. So, any change that is to be introduced, technology or otherwise, is best framed through the eyes of the employee.

Will it make their job easier? Will it add to their professional skills and development? Will it make the job less rote? In short, what’s in it for them? This approach will reveal to leaders the best way to engage employees in collaborative platform implementation and secure its success.

It’s not employees who need to think outside the inbox when it comes to new technologies. Rather, IT and management teams need to step outside their executive boxes, see what their employees see, and experience what their employees experience. Only then can they determine what is preventing full adoption of UC platforms and, ultimately, hampering project work.

Here are four keys ways to get the buy-in of users and a functioning UC platform.

  1. Reason the Roll-out

Before a new communications software is rolled out, users need to know the reasoning behind it. After all, if something isn’t broken, why fix it? For a new tool to be successful, users must see clear benefits before they will warm to its adoption.

In a rapidly moving business environment, information must be current and accessible to all involved; by showing how new communication platforms function, email is exposed as an ineffective mode of communication.

  1. Demonstrate the Dream

When you give employees new technology tools do you ever demonstrate how they work or can be used? Or do you let your employees figure it out? Take some time and do the research for them with demo. Seriously, show employees how their work could be, and they are much more likely to use a tool when they envision themselves using that technology.

By explicitly demonstrating with models and visuals how the new tool will change existing workplace systems, new systems become less intimidating and more inviting.

  1. Educate to Excite

An organization is made up of diverse individuals, some of whom are early adopters and some of whom take a little longer to reach warp speed with digital experiences. Offering training for employees with all levels of tech experience will ensure that everyone will be confident that they can, eventually, master a new communications tool.

  1. Culture Counts

The good news is that getting to yes when it comes to the use of collaboration tools is achievable with the right approach. The bad news, however, is that the speed at which that might happen is determined by the organization’s culture.

Companies that refuse to listen to employees or fail to invite them onboard as valuable contributors will find transformation slow and difficult. Deployment is 10 percent of the battle; buy-in is 90 percent. Make sure your leadership is not the reasonemail continues to trump a collaborative platform and your action steps are constrained by an inbox.

Photo Credit: RKBSemashko Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on FOW Media.