Why Employees are Avoiding Your Collaboration ToolMichael Curran
It may be hard to believe, but at one point in the evolution of business communications, email was a novelty. Even though it’s an integral part of everyone’s day now, it once started out as the new kid on the block in the business communications toolbox. Voice was the go-to option for business interactions. So, while some people adopted email immediately, it took others a little longer to embrace it. Gradually, more people saw the value of email and it is now the default communications tool for most business interactions.
Collaboration tools are going through a similar adoption process. For a long time, businesses opted not to invest. Later, they chose a free, off-the-shelf option that came bundled with other software. Now that collaboration tools are essential for distributed workforces, many businesses are trying to do more by adding robust collaboration tools to their systems.
But adding collaboration tools to work processes is not the same as adding email was way back when. For many employees, these tools will continue to be a novelty until they become a necessity. To do more with your communications system and fortify your communications strategy, collaboration should be an intentional investment and an integral part of daily workflows.
VOICE AND EMAIL ARE COMFORT TOOLS
Regardless of which industry you’re in, phone and email will always be the natural first choice for business communication. Whether your employees are communicating with colleagues, suppliers, partners or customers, they will continue to consider their phone and email as the go-to options for communication. As a result, these tools are table stakes for any organization looking to succeed in a competitive market. Employees expect to have them.
For organizations looking to enhance their communications strategy to increase productivity, these tools are still important.
As a synchronous communications tool, voice is ideal when face-to-face meetings are not possible, but clarity is needed and some degree of cooperation, collaboration or discussion are key to reaching a decision in a timely manner. As an asynchronous communication tool, email is indispensable for the one-way distribution of report style communication, documentation or other forms of information that cannot be shared with other communication tools.
Beyond these situations, however, the strategic value of voice and email is limited. Organizations need other tools to ensure their employees are efficient and effective in their daily business interactions. That’s where instant messaging (IM), short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS) and video come into play. Integrated into the mix, these tools can significantly improve communications processes and enhance efficiency. Employees will use them when the need them, but voice and email will continue to be the default options. So, true collaboration is still not possible.
JUST BECAUSE YOU BUILD IT, DOESN’T MEAN THEY’LL USE IT
To truly increase productivity among a group of two or more people, employees need a team collaboration tool that incorporates multiple forms of communication, like IM, voice and video, into one integrated package that also enables file and task sharing. But even though you and your employees may acknowledge the need for a collaboration tool, simply having it is not enough. Collaboration will stay a novelty until it becomes a necessity.
Why? Because comfort and habit are difficult to overcome.
As we experienced with the introduction of email, just because a tool is available doesn’t mean employees will use it. Chances are some employees will opt for it, but many won’t. From their perspective, they’ve gone all this time without it, so why would they start using it now?
Likewise, although training employees on how to use a new collaboration tool is important, the training itself will not guarantee widespread adoption. Employees might use it for a while, but once things get stressful, they’ll revert back to the tried and true methods of communication that they are comfortable with.
And although you could establish a company policy that insists employees use a collaboration tool, this would probably cause a backlash. Employees might use it begrudgingly at first, but they will find a way to avoid being forced down a path they are not comfortable with. Eventually, they will probably choose to use their personal mobile devices and cellular plans to thwart IT policy, or they will simply revert to using email and voice.
A COLLABORATION CULTURE IS DEVELOPED, NOT FORCED
Making collaboration essential requires more of an investment in changing corporate culture and daily workflows to incorporate the tool into regular workday activities.
Start by building a solid foundation for the change. Hold focus groups to let employees contribute to the change process. Give employees the opportunity to talk about what they like and don’t like about the existing or proposed collaboration tool. Share lessons learned about communication processes across the organization and commit to improvements that everyone can agree will make workflows more efficient and effective.
Use the feedback from focus groups to create a nexus strategy that leverages what you already have and integrates collaboration tools fully with your phone system, your contact center, your workforce tools and your back office tools. Plan the integration carefully to ensure it enables all your employees to work the way they want to work from anywhere, at any time and on any device. And since new tools require new workflows, design workflows to complement a collaboration mindset.
Most importantly, lead by example. Be an evangelist for the tool by using it for everything whenever you can to show the value of the change you are implementing. Track employee usage across the organization and use the data to inform your decisions about adjustments, enhancements or changes you have to make to increase adoption rates and ensure the success of the integration process.
EVOLUTION NOT REVOLUTION
Integrating collaboration tools into your daily operation as part of a well-crafted communications strategy makes good business sense. With the right tools, your employees can be more efficient and effective in all their business interactions. And the productivity gains can make a positive impact on your bottom line. But to ensure those tools are adopted, the process should be an evolution rather than a revolution.
If you’re a Mitel MiVoice Business customer and your systems are current with the latest updates and upgrades, that evolution can be seamless. You can do more with the system you have by adding full featured collaboration tools your employees can use today.
MiCollab simplifies the way employees talk, meet and share information by bringing together communications and collaboration tools into a single solution that makes it easier for them to connect, communicate and collaborate, from anyplace at any time. And MiTeam Meetings offers a true collaboration experience. It’s a multi-party video solution designed for those who want to work more efficiently and enhance workplace communication with seamless transitions between voice, video and chat capabilities.
So, start thinking strategically about your communications system by looking beyond voice and email. Your employees and your business will be glad you did.