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Collaborative Work: What Are the Challenges for Companies?

Collaborative work challenges for companies

The collaborative working environment isn’t just a trendy concept. In fact, it’s a powerful revolution that creates new ways for companies to work and organize themselves. Collaborative work is knocking at every company’s door—no exceptions—and pushing them out of their comfort zones. Indeed, it concentrates several major challenges in today’s workplace. Here they are. 

Also read: What is Collaborative Work?

Email: enemy of your time, energy and attention

The first issue can be found right in our inboxes.

5.6 hours! That’s how much time executives spend every day processing email, according to a 2015 Adobe study. That’s an enormous amount of time flying by every day that could be used on more value-added tasks

And for good reason. If consulting and replying to emails takes time, there’s yet another, more insidious drawback: watching new messages accumulate and seeing notifications flashing at the bottom of the screen throughout the day are also detrimental to your employees’ attention and energy level. This continuously filling gauge creates a mental load on their morale and motivation.

Fortunately for employees, collaborative work is a great way to shuffle the cards with tasks that are organized differently, using a variety of tools. Collaborative platforms, for example, as well as enterprise social networks, make it possible to centralize all their internal exchanges in the same place, simplify document sharing, and shorten decision-making by making good use of chat and videoconferencing (thereby avoiding many meetings!)

That’s ideal for freeing your email inbox and your mind.

Connecting talent anytime, anywhere

There’s a lot more in this collaborative work trend than just more flexible communication tools. It also raises a key issue about employee mobility. Many collaborative tools now enable us to manage projects and teams scattered around the world.

It’s a genuine godsend for recruiters. Why go looking for the best candidates within a radius of 20 kilometers when the whole world is reaching out?

Even within the same country, improvements to Internet speeds and numerous tools allow most employees in the service sector to work from home or a co-working space. 

In real time or asynchronously, on the move or remotely: collaborative tools bring new flexibility and bring together – virtually – employees who—just a decade ago—couldn’t have imagined working together as easily at a distance, as if they were office neighbors!

Also read: Five Advantages of Collaborative Work

More collaborative work for a more productive company

Some managers fear the rise of collaborative work—especially at a distance—because they’re too focused on control. That’s legitimate: how do they know if their team members are actually working—or if they’re off shopping, cleaning or playing with their children? 

Even if well-grounded, this fear is contradicted by the numbers:

  • 86% of telecommuters remark they’re more productive while remote. This can be explained by lower demands than in face-to-face work, especially in an open office space.
  • 84% of teleworkers feel that the quality of their work is better when they are teleworking.
  • 57% of them consider that telecommuting rhymes with increased working hours

Even better: a study commissioned by the General Directorate of Companies (part of the Ministry of Economy) objectively shows that teleworking allows an average productivity gain of 22% among employees.

The autonomy that collaborative work requires therefore reflects on the spirit of initiative and sense of responsibility of most employees, who are thus more involved! Use it to reawaken this spirit within your teams while remaining vigilant with those who don’t join in.

Implementing a “new generation” project management system

Collaborative work, above all, radically changes the rules of the project management game. It’s now becoming possible in digital workplaces and on enterprise social networks to have access in a clear and simple way—and in real time—to all the exchanges and documents related to a given project. 

Need information from a colleague who’s working remotely? While you can’t abolish time zones, videoconferencing, chat and other instant messaging tools can remove distances and boundaries in one click!

Collaborative project management solutions (whether in Kanban format, a Gantt chart or even a simple to-do list) no longer separate strategy from operations. They provide a real-time global view of a project and the progress of associated tasks and integrate planning, monitoring and analysis tools. 

Information sharing is clear and uniform, project stakeholders can react quickly to any contingency; project management is thus simplified and more efficient!

Improving the employee’s work/life balance

Collaborative work, particularly at a distance, is also in pole position on a major challenge: managing the employee’s work-life balance. Working regularly from home, thanks to collaborative tools, makes it possible to:

  • reduce transportation dependence and thus time spent, stress, fatigue, not to mention pollution!
  • perform some personal tasks before starting the day, at lunch time, or during a short break (e.g., throwing or hanging out laundry, or going to the pharmacy)
  • gain flexibility to ensure attendance when children return from school
  • reduce the length of the day and therefore the mental load of the personal to-do list

Your collaborators are human beings whose professional and personal facets are inseparable, even if we would sometimes prefer to believe otherwise. By allowing them to combine their two lives, you help them to reconcile their obligations. They’ll be happier personally—and also grateful. Happy employees are more motivated and productive, so the company has everything to gain—as long as the employees join in on the game!

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In short, collaborative work is much more than a fad. 

It’s at the confluence of all the “modern” challenges of the work world. Fewer emails, greater mobility, gains in productivity, simplified project management and a better work-life balance: collaborative work provides answers to each of these challenges. 

And you, where are you at with the implementation of collaborative work in your company?


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Authors: Paul Maubareyt, Benoît Renoul

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