Apr 17, 2020 Why Work-from-Home Requires Team Collaboration
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the growing work-from-home trend. Nemertes’ recent survey of more than 450 organizations found that 91% now allow employees to work from home, up from 63% prior to the pandemic. More astounding is that the percentage of employees that have shifted to work-from-home since the pandemic began has grown from 72% compared to 34% pre-pandemic. And, the work-from-home trend isn’t likely to reverse itself anytime soon: 71% of organizations say that they expect to continue to allow employees to work remotely, even after the pandemic is over or work restrictions ease.
Moving the majority of workers from office to home means a fundamental shift in the way employees communicate, collaborate, and accomplish tasks ranging from product development to sales, to HR, to customer service and support. Success requires access to collaborative tools that foster, rather than inhibit virtual collaboration.
Success doesn’t just come from enabling easy access to apps, data, and collaboration, it also requires establishing a culture that enables work-from-home employees to continue to engage with each other on an inter-personal level. A 2016 study of a work-from-home experiment in China noted that while work-from-home produced measurable benefits in terms of productivity, real estate cost reduction, and turnover, employees said their sense of loneliness had dramatically increased.
Team collaboration apps address both collaborative and interpersonal needs. By integrating workstreams, applications and information into contextual workspaces, employees can accomplish tasks and collaborate with each other, as well as with partners and customers, without having to switch to email or change application windows. Team collaboration enables adding individuals to workspaces to allow them to quickly get up to speed on project or team activities, again without having to read through long email chains, and to have related files, project plans, and other necessary information at their fingertips.
Team collaboration applications, especially when used with video conferencing, also foster the interpersonal relationships that can be difficult to establish or maintain among workers who rarely if ever see each other in person. By enabling direct and group messaging, workers can carry on informal conversations, seek assistance for work-related tasks, or engage in conservations in non-work-related areas. For example, those with the highest utilization of team collaboration applications often establish channels for topics including sports, cooking, family, or before the pandemic, happy hours and restaurants. These types of interactions enable employees to get to know one another outside of work activities and establish deep inter-personal bonds that help to overcome the sense of loneliness.
Successful team collaboration efforts thus require making team collaboration the hub for work. Among Nemertes research participants, those with the most successful implementations, in terms of identifying tangible gains in productivity, cost savings, or revenue gain, not only view team collaboration as the unified place for contextual conversation and access to data, but also ensure that team collaboration tools are available to the entire organization, including back-office, customer service agents, and front-line workers. And, they implement management strategies that allow team leaders to measure engagement so they can quickly identify and work with those who may be struggling to participate in conversations.
The rush to work-from-home is in full swing, ensure that team collaboration applications are a foundational component of your strategy. Deploy a team collaboration application on a company-wide basis, and build integrations to enable it to become the hub for work.
Join me and Justin Huskamp, Group Manager, Solutions Marketing, at Slack for “Why Work-at-home Requires Team Collaboration” on April 23 at 11:00 AM ET