It Takes Two to Collaborate

Collaboration is Equal Parts Software and Planning

Collaboration in the workplace has never been more abundant than it is today. New technology and software, aimed at facilitating better collaboration, is now widely available to businesses of all sizes. And with employee demand for these software tools at an all-time high, it’s not surprising that many companies implement them as an easy fix to organizational communication issues.

A recent post by Bain & Company partner Michael Mankins looks to be the latest article in a wave of pushback against hyper-collaboration, but Mankins makes a critical distinction. He suggests that the negative effects that some companies attribute to new collaboration software might instead be symptoms of deeper organizational issues. Collaboration tools provide amazing opportunities in today’s workplace, but organizations must plan properly in order to reap the rewards.

Collaboration tools work best with proper planning

When Slack was launched in 2013, companies around the world bought into the communication tool—and others like it—as a means for reducing inefficient meetings and encouraging cross-departmental collaboration. Many teams hopped on board, and many have had great success with Slack. However, a quick search for “Slack” and “productivity” currently brings up as many negative articles as it does positive ones; Slack is now the highest-profile target in the campaign against hyper-collaboration.

Instead of an easy-to-use hub of efficient collaboration, some organizations found their employees spending valuable work time responding to non-essential messages and sending GIFs back-and-forth. Does this mean breaking down silos and connecting teams is bad for business? Not necessarily. But it is worth noting that simply buying a productivity tool won’t automatically make a team more productive. This is what Michael calls a “culture of collaboration for collaboration’s sake.”

In his post, Michael points out that “attempts to liberate unproductive time by employing new tools will prove fruitless unless steps are taken to deal with underlying organizational illness.” Introducing software like Slack or Microsoft Teams won’t solve all communication problems by itself. These tools need to be rolled out thoughtfully and planfully, with communication about usage objectives.

There are real benefits to collaborative work efforts

Despite the recent backlash, the fact remains: collaboration in the workplace can have a great impact on employees—and the work they produce. Executive Advisor William Buist points out that businesses can find unexpected benefits with properly managed employe collaboration. Teams feel more aligned, focus on their roles more than tasks, and are more energized, among other benefits:

Collaboration can bring together different types of specialists and departments, which can give people new ways to reach an organisational goal. The new ideas and thought processes that result can challenge everyone to consider different directions that would not have been considered if everyone worked separately.

The first comment left on Michael’s article offers what might be the most succinct opinion on the subject of hyper-collaboration: “Too much of anything can be a bad thing.” Too much communication, too much collaboration, or too much oversight can all have adverse effects on productivity in the workplace. And while many teams have now stepped away from Slack, there are still many success stories. The difference? Planning and thoughtful implementation for companies and their teams.

Let’s not forget that tools like Slack, Asana, and Microsoft Teams are just that: tools, it’s up to companies to best understand and decide how to use them in an effective manner. With Lessonly, our customer experience team comes alongside our software, guiding new users through best practices in using Lessonly. We don’t just offer Lessonly as tool, but Lessonly as a solution, and so far it’s working! Lessonly customers say their teams are 22% more productive when using our software to its fullest.

Encourage the right kind of collaboration with Lessonly

Over 300 teams around the world collaboratively build accessible team learning with Lessonly. Take the first step toward user-generated content for your team with a self-guided tour of Lessonly. Sign up today.

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