Too busy to get anything done? Digital workplace tools can help - Part 2
In part one of this blog post, we described the detrimental effects of being habitually busy, pseudo multi-tasking, and adopting poor practices in conference call meetings. We concluded that our actual challenges are not just how to make the best use of collaboration time, but to make the best use of the experience, knowledge, and uniqueness of each of the individuals involved, and to be clear on the role of technology in this. We also recognized that the word meeting has become tangled up in the detrimental behaviors and counter-productive approaches that characterize them. Bringing our focus right back to collaboration and using the phrase collaboration events to give us a fresh start in how we see meetings, here are the five steps we recommend for any collaboration.
Understanding the purpose of the collaboration
It’s remarkable how frequently a meeting has no clear definition of its purpose and yet how important that is to the likelihood of its success. This is not an exhaustive list but collaboration events are likely to have at least one of the following areas as a purpose:
- To make decisions (e.g., investment case decisions, project Go/No-go, governance);
- To communicate (e.g., team meetings, project updates, all-hands meetings);
- To co-create (e.g., brainstorm, workshop);
- To ask for help or solve problems (e.g., incident management, escalation calls).
Prepare well before the collaboration
To make the collaboration effective requires all participants to prepare by reviewing the agenda and especially any key documents provided as part of discussion. Also, we each need to consider the purpose and look at what we think we can contribute. The latest collaboration tools can help via AI by automatically providing related files and relevant history into a conversation area supporting the collaboration-- saving participants time trying to find that email attachment and the previous discourse from chat, email or online collaborations.
Conduct well during the collaboration
During the collaboration, the chairperson, or leader of the event, needs to reconfirm the agenda and purpose with key expected outputs. New meeting participants may need to introduce themselves and explain their role and how they can contribute. Video is an effective way to ensure that the discussion is more engaging and to ensure participants are wholly present (not being distracted or “multi-tasking”). New tools can help via AI by providing automatic transcription and translation for those with second languages or disabilities. Also, speech recognition can be used to ensure that participants are recognized to enable transcription tagging and to capture action items along the way.
Follow-up well after the collaboration
After the collaboration it is important to have a clear description of key items discussed, decisions made, actions agreed, and outcomes reached, with associated files/pictures. This can then be shared with participants, stakeholders and those who could not participate. Collaboration tools can help via AI by automatically generating the meeting notes, associated files, and next steps. The meeting can be recorded and for those who need to fully understand the discussion- AI tools can help them search through keywords to reach the right part of the recording for specific topics or name mentions.
The role of technology in effective collaboration
Enterprise users in today's digital workplaces are tired of traditionally "siloed" audio, video, and web conferencing applications, and are seeking converged online collaboration services that deliver easy-to-use, seamless multimedia experiences in concert with content sharing, team collaboration tools, and automated coordination processes. Given that the changing nature of work requires highly distributed teams to collaborate effectively from anywhere, these services must be delivered across endpoints ranging from mobile and desktop devices to equipment in huddle spaces and large video conferencing rooms. Not on this, but the convergence points need to be accessible to each collaborating group and specific to each one – our information, our communication, our activities, where and when we need them, with whom we need them.
Gartner say that “by year-end of 2022, 70% of teams will rely on workstream collaboration as the primary means of communicating, coordinating and sharing information between team members, displacing email”. They also say to “embrace workstream collaboration to transform team coordination and performance”.
The best toolsets supporting workstream collaboration allow team conversations to occur in the flow of work and in the context of applications being used to get work done. Tightly integrated suites of workstream collaboration applications also ensure that updates across elements come pre-tested without the user community inheriting the additional cost of testing uncoordinated combinations of components gathered from multiple suppliers.
The best tools work for us in pulling relevant content into the conversation and enabling focus on group interactions around a specific topic, project or other work activity; with plug-ins that contextualize application use; and with bots that automate various tasks. The key benefits for team productivity are best achieved within the tight integration of the different elements of workstream collaboration from one vendor. Some examples include:
- Regular reference materials for a team can be captured into a team collaboration site to ease access;
- News updates shared with the team can also be captured in the team collaboration site where they are most relevant;
- Group calendars can be used for team activities and linked into the team conversation;
- Documents can be co-edited real-time by the team with chat discussion at the same time;
- Security policies for team can be centrally coordinated for sharing email/file/sites to provide data loss protection.
All these benefits can be achieved within one user interface and ensure strong and focused collaboration and productivity whilst achieving the best end user experience.
First and foremost, our effectiveness and our enjoyment of our lives and work depend on our own actions to determine our priorities and to manage our movement, emotions, attention, and energy. The effectiveness of our collaboration has a large part to play in our joint effectiveness and enjoyment too. Some of the key points are long-standing like the need to plan and prepare, to get the best into collaboration to get the best out of it.
What’s new is that we are now in an era where the tools available to us to support our effectiveness and collaboration are dramatically more powerful than before which means that we can be much more effective than we have been before. Meetings as we knew them and as they became no longer need to exist. Let’s make effective collaboration our new habit and let’s use workstream collaboration tools as our way to adopt it.