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In a recent collaborative study, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and our partner, Workplace by Facebook, set out to better understand how and why offices are evolving and what’s driving the change.
Workstream collaboration platforms are on the rise, with some of the most recognizable names in business leveraging these tools to connect their offices, such as Starbucks and Spotify. Over 89% of all companies surveyed used some sort of social tool for internal communications, driving a huge spike in collaboration adoption in the past year alone.
These tools help break down barriers between departments, creating a “flat” organization as opposed to the traditional hierarchy structure that many are used to. This also helps to drive faster internal communication. Once integrated in the day-to-day operations, 73% of those surveyed said that collaboration tools provide quick, effective communication access across the entire company.
Faster response times have been cited as one of the key elements to overcoming organizational barriers and encouraging a more engaged culture. Employees who are positioned to collaborate with their coworkers more often and more efficiently have a leg up on the competition—especially if the competition continues to rely on outdated practices like email and paper memos.
With the addition of collaboration tools, employees can share ideas, experiences and information more broadly and rapidly than before—which is why nearly 65% of surveyed employees said social tools provide quick solutions to business problems.
Access to other teams and their knowledge means employees spend less time information-hunting and more time problem-solving or creating—a much more satisfying and productive use of people resources. Acknowledging that shift, it’s no surprise that 47% of those surveyed said that social tools improved the overall employee engagement in their office.
Spyglass Realty, a real-estate company based in Austin, TX, employed Workplace by Facebook and used the tool to make company documents—such as training videos and other materials—available to employees. After a year, they observed a major decrease in the amount of time required to onboard and train new agents.
The successes of Spyglass Realty is only one example of digital work impacts. Heidi Gardner, author of Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos, explains that when adopted successfully, “returns include higher revenue, higher profits, sustainable client relationships, higher customer satisfaction, and a better ability to attract and retain talent.”
The primary benefit of collaborating digitally is increased productivity and efficiency across the company. But succeeding at collaboration requires your organization to be ready for it, and that means knowing and understanding what tools are right for your employees.