While it’s hard to find a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s at least a good thing it occurred during this digital age where technology has helped businesses function. Governments worldwide implemented lockdown measures that required companies in many industries to shut their doors and order employees to work from their homes.
Telecommuting is nothing new. According to one source, about 3.4% of the U.S. workforce worked from home before the pandemic. That number is much higher now as 18% of people telecommute full-time during the COVID-19 pandemic. And 88% of companies encouraged their workers to work from their homes due to the pandemic. The same source adds that 56% of companies worldwide are willing to offer remote work for their workers, 52% of employees worldwide work from their home once per week, and 68% work from home once per month.
But allowing employees to work from home is one thing--equipping them with the tools they need to be successful is another thing entirely. One type of tool that has helped connect not only businesses with their staff, but also employees with their co-workers is collaboration software. It’s a market projected to be worth more than $13 billion this year and north of $13.5 billion by 2024.
If your company has remote workers or is open to flexible working options, you’ll want to consider five essential benefits of collaboration software.
1. It Offers Seamless Collaboration
Effective collaboration can have a profound impact on your business. If all your staff work from out of the same office, there will be challenges in achieving effective collaboration. But if you have remote workers in different states or countries, more collaboration challenges will need to be overcome to avoid declines in staff efficiency and productivity.
A collaboration application will provide a platform that facilitates effective communication. Your workers will, regardless of whether they work in the office or from their homes, be able to work together in real-time, share ideas, build rapport, and stay on the same page.
Does your business need a seamless collaboration platform accessible to different people, teams, vendors, and partners? If the answer is “yes,” then you need collaboration software. Whether the collaborators are in the same office or remote locations, they’ll be able to work as a team.
2. It Helps Achieve Better Efficiency and Productivity
The State of the Global Workplace report notes that 85% of workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged on the job. How does this impact businesses? The problem adds up to about $7 trillion in lost productivity. But a collaboration software tool will give your staff a way to stay engaged. Even if they work from home, staff won’t feel like they’re working in a vacuum.
Another study shows that companies lose $600 million annually due to workplace distractions and that employees working from home are up to 40% more productive than their co-workers working in brick-and-mortar office spaces. So, there’s a case for allowing remote work options.
There’s also a case to be made for adopting technology that facilitates productivity and efficiency. Case in point: 54% of office professionals in the U.S. say they waste time looking for essential files stuffed into online filing systems. Consider, as well, that close to 20% of the 1,000 U.S. office professionals who participated in a survey say their top problem is searching for required files.
Meanwhile, McKinsey says that knowledge workers dedicate, on average, 14% of their time at work collaborating and communicating internally. It adds that boosting internal collaboration through social tools could help boost the productivity of interaction by up to 25%. It goes without saying that businesses should consider how collaboration software can benefit their workforces.
Whether some of your workers work remotely, your entire workforce works remotely, or you have a hybrid model that offers flexibility, collaboration software can boost efficiency and productivity. Staff will have the ability to work together, communicate, and get things done.
3. It Helps With Workflow
Workflows are repeatable processes made up of tasks that typically must be completed in specific sequences. Companies rely on these repeatable processes day in and day out to achieve their objectives. But without the right technology, workflows will be impeded by bottlenecks.
Implementing the right collaboration application will give you templates and features that facilitate the creation of project workflows for individuals and teams regardless of which city, state, or country your employees reside in. Your workers will be able to do the following:
- Set deadlines
- Stipulate project phase timeframes
- Assign specific responsibilities to different people
- Set priority levels
- Give status updates
- Track progress of individuals and groups
If you want to keep track of how teams are performing, you'll be able to do so by creating weekly, monthly, or quarterly reports. You'll find it easy to collect and analyse information, which will help you assess performance.
4. It Helps Secure Documents
While there are good reasons to implement a collaboration application, it's essential to acknowledge the importance of doing so responsibly, given the threat landscape in the digital area. When people are accessing your corporate network outside of your brick-and-mortar office, there are inherent risks that you need to prepare for. It’s great that workers will be able to share and jointly work on documents, but that doesn’t mean having to jeopardise security.
IT departments need to know who is using the collaboration software, how the workers and management are using the application, and what potential risks need to be addressed. It's also critical to ensure that workers know how to utilise the software properly, how to steer clear of situations that might compromise their or their company's network, and what to do if they encounter any cybersecurity issues.
Your best bet is to do some research before selecting a collaboration application. While a collaboration tool will make it easy for your employees to work on documents and files, you’ll want to ensure that these resources don’t end up in the wrong hands. The right solution will come with enterprise-grade security, the latest data encryption technology, total data governance, and intelligent threat detection. A critical consideration is finding a solution with industry compliance features that ensures your business stays on the right side of the law.
5. It Will Boost Team Morale
Team morale could be an issue if your workers don't feel connected to your company or their fellow workers. The global workforce is more dispersed now than ever, but collaboration software can help bridge the gap. An executive based in London can virtually meet with staff members in New York, Toronto, or Zurich. At the same time, a project leader in Dubai can connect with a group of employees stationed in Brisbane. A collaboration tool will bring people together.
You’ll want to avoid a scenario where employees working remotely are left feeling like they’re working in a vacuum. That’s one of the fastest ways to detract from morale in the workplace. If your company has in-house and remote employees, a collaboration software tool will allow everyone on your team to contribute, interact, and get things done together. Employees working from home will feel just as valued as those working from the company office.
If any of these points resonate with you, explore the possibility of getting collaboration software. Remote work is a reality now more than it’s ever been. In order to succeed in a world where flexible working options are the norm, you’ll want to get the right tools for your workers. Their success--and the success of your business as a whole--might depend on it.