Posted: 09 Oct. 2020 3 min. read

The future of collaboration technology is now

Deloitte’s new alliance with Workplace from Facebook combines the growing need for collaboration technology, with the focus on employee experience and workplace culture. In this blog, we will give you a sense of what we and our clients are experiencing; keep an eye out for a series of blogs that will follow.

In June 2020, Deloitte and Workplace from Facebook hosted a series of small, virtual conversations with over twenty Communications, HR and IT leaders from a range of organisations. Our purpose was to understand the role of collaboration technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, share experiences from our different workplaces, and explore what this could mean for our return to the office, and beyond. Discussion focused on how remote working affected the employee experience during the crisis and what this means for the future of work and collaboration tech.

Through our conversations, six themes emerged. We explored what a company can learn from these ideas and we have identified six steps every company should take.

1.       Collaborating now is a win-win

There are hundreds of tools available. This, together with a global pandemic and a need to connect remotely, has seen the market for collaboration technology mature rapidly. Companies have had no choice but to make bold moves.

Collaboration technology was a key enabler, and its use soared. Microsoft Teams reported record numbers with 44 million users in a single day in mid-March, compared with 20 million four months earlier. The World Health Organisation was using Workplace from Facebook to provide daily press briefings, share resources and provide an open forum for its staff around the world.

2.       Let’s experiment

Companies shared how in 2019, they were considering their digital journey, exploring the tools, and building business cases. Then suddenly, lockdown hit and organisations accelerated their implementation and adoption of collaboration tools.

“We started lockdown with very little capability but we were able to roll out a tool in three weeks to the whole organisation”, one executive from a large food company noted during our virtual conversations. Long established working practices have been turned on their head. “Within two weeks, we changed our annual global meeting to a virtual meeting”. It has allowed companies to experiment.

3.       Finding it better together

This experimentation has seen multiple tools in use. Deloitte’s analysis has found that since the start of lockdown, 75% of office workers have used at least two new types of technology for work. A global technology company described their journey of having limited collaboration tools, then far too many tools, then honing in on a select few to meet their needs.

It is more about the tools working better together. One Communications leader from a multinational commented, “No one tool is good for everything. We need to be specific and clear about what each platform is very good for”. Now that there are abundant options of collaboration tools available to companies, the key to success is understanding how tools are integrated to other tools.

4.       Addressing corporate risk

Organisations are balancing this new found agility with mitigating corporate risk. Companies may have compromised on information security to meet business continuity needs. The increase in cyber-crime was widely reported, for example “experts see over 600 percent spike in malicious emails during coronavirus crisis”.

In talking to companies, there was feedback that concerns about behaviour on an open platform are largely misplaced. It is driven by culture and coaching. One talked about a ‘respectful communications policy’, against the backdrop of a more open and transparent organisation.

5.       Balancing productivity and wellbeing

A variety of collaboration tools have made working from home possible for many employees. As organisations consider the return to offices, a key question has emerged: how is remote working affecting productivity and wellbeing?  According to Deloitte’s analysis, 37% of workers say lockdown has had a negative impact on their wellbeing. However, 55% of workers believe that their colleagues are just as, if not more, productive now than before lockdown.

Most have only ‘dipped their toe in’ what collaboration tools can do for an organisation. One company cited, “It feels as if I’m using it at 30-40% of its capabilities.” By understanding how to use tools effectively, and selecting the right ones, they have the potential to boost the productivity of employees even more.

6.       Putting people first

As the remote working world has found over the last four months, the right technology can make teams feel connected even when they’re apart. As one senior leader at one of our virtual sessions put it, “it’s interesting that it took a pandemic for organisations to understand the importance of putting employees first”.

In Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2020, we challenge organisations to consider how it is possible to resolve the seeming paradox of finding ways to remain distinctly human in a technology-driven world. For Workplace from Facebook’s VP, Julien Codorniou, “Leaders have a real opportunity to transform employee experience and culture so that people feel more connected, informed, empowered and productive at work. This will unlock the motivation, resilience, innovation, creativity and productivity that only people can deliver, whether they work at the HQ, or the frontline of the company”. 
 

What should a company do about it – six steps every company should take

For each of the six themes, we have suggested a step to take to make the most of collaboration technology and the opportunity it presents for a company and its people.

  1. Human connection is key to success; enable it: Use collaboration tools to overcome the changed working habits and connect dispersed teams, wherever they work from.
  2. Experiment to find what works: Put technology in people’s hands and be prepared to see how its use evolves.
  3. Join up experiences across platforms: There is not one tool that will meet all needs, so think about the broader ecosystem of tech platforms.
  4. Have an eye to risk and employee trust: Assess each platform and explore whether the risks are being viewed subjectively or objectively.  
  5. Help employees be well: Listen to your people, create a dialogue and hear their feedback.
  6. Take the opportunity to set the culture you want: Recognise this as an opportunity for your leaders and teams to connect in an entirely new and meaningful way.

Key contact

Rupert Darbyshire

Rupert Darbyshire

Director, Future of Work

Rupert is a leader in Deloitte’s Future of Work team, helping clients to understand and manage the impact of digital transformation on their business and workforce. He particularly focuses on helping clients build engagement and productivity with employees, enabled by social collaboration technologies. He is the Global Leader of Deloitte’s alliance with Workplace from Facebook. He works with clients across sectors, with a particular focus on Technology, Media and Telecommunications industries.