As mentioned throughout this series, technological developments over the last few years have provided the workplace with unprecedented connectivity. To drive the point home, if we weren’t so connected why would so many of us feel the need “to unplug” or “get off the grid”?
Problem is a connected workplace doesn’t necessarily equal a collaborative workplace. Think of it this way: having an electrical outlet doesn’t run the blender, which in turn doesn’t always make the perfect smoothie (and I love smoothies). Somebody’s still got bring all the ingredients together, flip the switch and pour it into a glass.
The Unrealized Potential of Collaboration
We are much more successful when we work together, plain and simple. For example: according to McKinsey Research, there are big dollar gains that can be realized through collaborative business technologies and processes — $867 billion with a 20 -25% increase in productivity, to be exact.
And yet, McKinsey also notes of the 70% of companies are using social business technologies, only 3% are maximizing it.
That’s a lot of untapped potential. As previously noted, a lot of this struggle has to do with the mistreatment of connection. Because it’s so automatic in the consumer world, we assume it will also be automatic in the business world. But applying components we don’t have corporate spreadsheets for – empathy, culture, transparency, etc. – is a very different way of looking at business.
Moving forward to become more collaborative will take a lot of adjustment, but there are steps companies can take to keep them moving in the right direction:
- Collaborative culture: We need to move away from controlling employees to empowering our workforce. It starts at the c-suite who champions a culture of collaboration and sharing. They will balance new policies and initiatives that alleviate security and operational concerns. They must lead by example.
- Simplified, directionally efficient technology: Deploy technology that is impossible to ignore. To win fans across the entire enterprise collaborative technology has to be as simple and ubiquitous as email. It will only gain adoption if it’s ingrained in the workflow and instantly gratifying.
- Support: There must be support from all areas along the way. Moving to a more collaborative workforce will require new hires to provide functional expertise, change management consultants to map the process, integration experts to update systems and a community to offer advice and best practices.
Committing to Change
In many ways, the workplace of the future is already here. But to grab hold of it, we’ve got to make a real commitment to widespread change. As Altimeter analyst Chris Silva suggests, we need to look at the whole enchilada: “the systems, policies, people and tools.” We have to “re-engineer our processes to take advantage of this change.”
The result will be a very different environment than what we’re used to, but it will be one that falls in line with the advancements going on all around us: more effective, more productive, and much, much more satisfying.