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A Love-Hate Affair: Challenges in Workstream Collaboration

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New report reveals trends around collaboration applications and their impact on today’s enterprises and employees

Challenges in Workstream Collaboration Unify Square

We’ve all been there… head down, focused on the task at hand, when a coworker sends a funny GIF on Slack, or the boss flags yet another project request. Concentration is suddenly interrupted, the flow of work brought to a screeching halt. This all-too-common experience is just one of the many reasons behind the love-hate relationship workers today have with workstream collaboration applications.

Remote work is becoming more and more common for enterprise employees, and teams are increasingly disparate. Productivity and efficiency have become cornerstone benchmarks of teams’ performance and value. The variety of workstream collaboration applications used within any given organization continues to grow. Enterprise IT teams also face challenges in deploying these applications in a seamless and widespread way, especially as collaboration application adoption outpaces IT controls. Struggles with implementing across dispersed workforce has left some IT departments wondering if it’s time for a collaboration break-up.

But with any breakup comes unexpected hardship. Given the benefits these collaboration applications provide, organizations are better off finding a way to improve the love-hate relationship. Unify Square released a new report today, which examines the current state of workstream collaboration and supports the argument for sticking it out with collaboration applications. Completed by 500+ enterprise employees, the survey shares insights and trends around workstream collaboration, and how they are impacting productivity, collaboration security, and more.

Inside Workstream Collaboration in the Digital Workplace Today

Challenges in Workstream Collaboration Unify Square

Approximately 90 percent of enterprises use some form of collaboration platform for internal communications. Microsoft Teams recently reported more than 20 million daily active users, and Slack confirmed in late 2019 it has more than 12 million. Adoption of workstream collaboration applications is expected to continue growing significantly in the coming years. Our new data shows widespread usage across numerous platforms, with the most preferred options ranked by respondents as follows:

  • Microsoft Teams (31 percent)
  • Microsoft Skype for Business (27 percent)
  • Google Chat (21 percent)
  • Cisco WebEx Teams (15 percent)
  • Zoom (13 percent)

Zoom ranked near the bottom of total usage. However, when comparing the data between organizations that provide the platform, Zoom had the lowest user drop off versus any other platform.

Email is Still Alive and Well

Challenges in Workplace Collaboration Unify Square

We’ve all seen the headlines inferring that email is dead. Slack’s CEO predicted that the “death of work email” is looming. Many workstream collaboration providers have touted that their applications will drive reduced internal email threads and thus reduce the estimated five hours per day most workers spend in their inboxes.

The debate goes on, with reports coming to conflicting conclusions. As collaboration application platforms infiltrate organizations across industries, email continues to play a key role in day-to-day business communications. Forty percent of respondents agreed that one of the chief benefits of using collaboration applications is fewer emails. Yet, 74% admitted they have not seen a significant decrease in emails since they started using collaboration applications. Still, our survey results show that employees across the board agree that 66 percent of their colleagues have mastered the art of effectively balancing the use of both email and collaboration applications.

Workplace Distraction is a Shared Problem in Using Workstream Collaboration Applications

Workplace Distraction Unify Square

It may seem obvious that with the implementation of workplace collaboration apps comes increased distractions for end users. However, when asked about distraction, survey respondents told a different story. Their average rating of daily feelings of distraction landed at two, on a scale of one to five. Eighty percent said they believe collaboration applications make it easier to be productive when working remotely.

When users did feel distracted, personal conversations (41 percent) and incoming requests taking away from current projects (39 percent) were noted as the biggest culprits for distraction caused by collaboration applications during the workday.

Regardless of where they landed on the spectrum of distraction, employees didn’t deny their responsibility in managing the issue, with 40 percent believing that preventing distraction caused by collaboration applications is a shared responsibility between themselves and management, ultimately denoting that there’s no silver bullet for workplace productivity.

Employees Crave Structure and Strict Guidelines

Employees crave structure Unify Square

A structured approach to managing applications can ensure better success for enterprises. Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), management is not likely to see much resistance from employees when establishing structure around workstream collaboration.

In fact, 40 percent of enterprise employees wish their organizations enforced stricter rules on this front. Almost half crave better expectations for usage to improve productivity. Considering that many employees already view distraction as a minor downside, addressing these areas could be a boon to achieving further benefits.

Collaboration Security is the Responsibility of IT

Challenges in Workstream Collaboration Unify Square

Remote work is rising, conversations are shifting to the cloud and people are sharing a surge of data. Security experts do not believe IT teams prepared for this change. While security may be less talked about than productivity, it’s equally a driver of the “hate” side of the relationship organizations may have with their tools. Largely, employees understand the need for IT to secure enterprise collaboration applications. More than 60 percent of respondents believe the responsibility for collaboration security rests squarely on IT’s shoulders. Nearly 30 percent are willing to share that responsibility between IT and employees.

There is work to be done in gaining user buy-in to support collaboration security.  Eighty percent of respondents said they have never downloaded collaboration tools for personal use without IT’s approval. The numbers look more concerning when parsed out by certain groups. Among tech industry workers, nearly 40 percent admitted to downloading collaboration without IT’s approval. Half of senior managers (52 percent) and owners/C-level executives (50 percent) employees in the tech space have also done so.

The Secrets to Success

Does your organization need to hit refresh on the way it uses and manages workstream collaboration applications? A little TLC may be in order.

A successful workstream collaboration deployment is directly linked to overall improved business outcomes. Strategic and comprehensive change in management is an important part of any digital transformation—and workstream collaboration is no exception.

Managing cultural change and supporting employees in digital transformation requires a clear view into application usage, collaboration security, conferencing and call problems. Unify Square’s PowerSuite™ provides this through a single pane of glass that IT can leverage to monitor and optimize activity across all major UC and workstream collaboration environments.

To get access to the full report and eBook, visit: https://www.unifysquare.com/blog/overcoming-challenges-of-workstream-collaboration

 

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