Remote work is sometimes blamed for collaboration issues, but even in the office there can be an emphasis on the number of interactions, rather than the quality of them. Nathan Rawlins, CMO at Lucid, explores the challenges that organisations are facing with workplace alignment and how to equip teams to collaborate efficiently in the modern economy.
For many workers, collaboration in the hybrid world is defined by navigating numerous meetings and follow up conversations. On top of this, they also have to sift through endless email threads or interact with colleagues across multiple workplace applications. Clearly the approach, or lack of, that many organisations have taken to collaboration is ineffective and produces misalignment between teams as a result.
This has been shown by our workplace alignment survey, which revealed workers spend an average of five hours per week just searching for information related to their projects. Similarly, almost half of organisations (47%) lack a standardised way to share documents across their tech stack, leading to gaps in information sharing. And as businesses rack up multiple applications, the challenge becomes compounded by the difficulty in pinpointing exactly what component is causing collaboration to break down.
Given the current economic climate, where business leaders are looking to be more conservative with how they spend, more consideration of the impact of poor collaboration on productivity needs to be taken. Ironically, part of the current problem is the extensive amount of productivity applications that organisations have adopted. Nearly half of the respondents (45%) in our survey admitted to using five or more productivity applications at work. It’s not beneficial for anyone to be switching between countless applications for documentation or interaction purposes.
But this problem can be fixed, and it starts with firms refraining from blindly adding any new workplace application in the hope that it boosts their productivity. Instead, leaders need to take a well thought out approach, investing in platforms that can be adapted to fit the working and collaboration styles of their employees, whether they are remote, hybrid or in the office.
What’s wrong with the current state of collaboration?
While meetings are an integral part of collaborating, workers often find themselves defaulting into overwhelming, redundant follow up meetings that lack depth or value because teams weren’t aligned to begin with. Many companies have begun to pick up on the effects of meeting fatigue and scrapped meetings with few attendees. This allowed employees to get time back to focus on other tasks and deliverables.
Even though some business leaders may attribute their collaboration challenges to the switch to remote and hybrid work during the pandemic, these problems clearly date back much further than that. When teams worked in the office together daily, organisations still struggled to facilitate effective collaboration because so much focus was on increasing the quantity of interactions that we’ve neglected ways to improve the quality of them. Some organisations have gone as far as implementing productivity reporting to ensure people are working. But how accurate are those measurements?
Looking for solutions that replicate the traditional office environment will not suffice in today’s work environment. Instead, managers need to look for tools that can support the multiple working styles that exist in an office and ensure remote workers remain aligned and feel part of the team.
Adopting a common visual language
Most workers aren’t spending nearly the amount of time they want on innovative, high value work. Time spent on toggling through different workplace apps or scheduling follow up meetings can be replaced with impactful interactions – whether it’s through a meeting or asynchronously.
Visual collaboration provides a common language for teams across departments to connect and align on priorities. It goes beyond meetings, virtual whiteboards and hybrid work. The power of visuals removes a lot of the guesswork with teams having the necessary context needed to be aligned and make an informed decision. And it can empower team members who may otherwise find it difficult to get their ideas across in a concise way. It can help solidify post-meeting action items, typically all in one platform.
Some even use interactive timelines to set parameters for synchronous and asynchronous work, helping to minimise confusion about deadlines and improve efficiencies otherwise lost to an unstandardised way of working.
The power of visuals does not just stop at the ideation stage either. It can be a powerful tool to help teams interact with their cloud work environment in real-time. A visual approach gives even non-technical employees a view of their cloud architecture, what exists within it and what is no longer benefitting the company. When visual collaboration is used throughout the entire workflow, from ideation to execution, it can help teams produce amazing outcomes together.
Before introducing additional layers to their tech stacks, firms should reevaluate their existing tools to ensure those applications effectively facilitate collaboration practices, promote alignment and streamline workflows. Business leaders should ask themselves the following questions: Are the current apps and tools being used across teams? Is it helping them to do their job quicker? If the answer to both these questions is undetermined, it may be time to look at alternatives that can help teams communicate ideas, align quicker and build effectively.
Tackling productivity challenges head on
In today’s fast-paced work environment, where hybrid work models are becoming increasingly prevalent, achieving effective team alignment is crucial for productivity and overall success. Yet, hybrid working is often plagued with silos and a lack of alignment between teams, and it’s starting to have an impact on employees’ work. Proper hybrid collaboration requires solutions – or ideally, one solution, that enables effective brainstorming, planning and community building – and work well for those actually using them.
With better organisation and project management practices that prioritise visual collaboration, businesses can overcome the alignment problem and unlock their true potential.Click below to share this article