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The Top Three Collaborative Behaviors of 2019

By: Daisy Hernandez, Global Vice President, Product Management, Enterprise Collaboration, SAP Labs (SAP Jam)

January 5 2019 - Businesses are tasked with implementing new ways to accommodate digital transformation in their workforce. A key piece of this is ensuring the company's collaboration practices are set up to create an effective and efficient work environment. Below are three of the top emerging collaboration behaviors we'll see taking off in the New Year.

Combating the Privacy Issue

The widespread positivity around the adoption of digital tools also comes with increased questions around platform security and data privacy. For example, the post-GDPR era has created a wave of uncertainty around the information available to employers on their favorite communication platforms. Many employees are surprised to find out that employers have access to emails or discussion threads.

So, how can companies design a collaboration infrastructure that stimulates a culture of sharing and spreading of knowledge for the company benefit without concerns that employees are being policed or watched unnecessarily?

There must be a balance between governance and a climate of information sharing. For collaboration to succeed, it must be rooted in helping employees succeed. Efforts at increased restriction or governance can stifle the healthy spread of ideas. However, a lack of governance does not imply a lack of structure.

Companies have ample opportunity to transparently outline the principles which guide behavior within their online workspaces.

Adopting Open Offices

The open office concept has been widely adopted but is under a lot of scrutiny. According to the  International Facility Management Association, 70 percent of US-based offices today have some form of an open office concept. However, this popular workplace trend is far from perfect.

In many cases, open offices are doing the opposite of what they were set out to accomplish: encourage relationship building and employee health. However, regardless of the physical office space businesses have an opportunity to guide collaborative behavior, which today is driven more by digital behaviors. If businesses are strategic about encouraging widespread collaboration and meaningful relationship-building, rather than assuming that more open space means more collaboration, they can combat some of the negative effects of open offices.

We should all treat collaboration as an ally in creating a better employee experience. Developing a successful collaboration strategy does not need to be complex. Through online collaborative spaces, employers have the power to keep employees knowledgeable and engaged from day one. As the workforce continues to expand and change, the ways that employees are most comfortable communicating will continue to evolve. It will be up to businesses to continually evaluate collaboration strategy to ensure it meets these changing needs.

Communicating Effectively

As we enter 2019, companies must determine which collaboration tools are best for their organization based on a variety of factors. These factors include pace of communication, culture, and level of formality. For example, some companies may benefit from a leap to a collaboration tool, while others still need to retain email as a primary means of communication.

According to a Deloitte study, The Rise of the Social Enterprise, "the sheer number and variety of communications tools continues to expand, all of them promising to make workers more efficient and productive. In an effort to realize this promise, smart organizations are reshaping work practices, physical workspaces, and leadership approaches to ensure that greater connectivity means greater productivity in a network of teams."

The same study revealed that 44 percent of respondents believe face-to-face meetings will decrease, and 30 percent believe phone and text usage will decrease. In their place, 70 percent believe workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms, 67 percent anticipate growth in 'work-based social media,' and 62 percent predict more instant messaging. This means that not one form of communication will be dominant; instead, there will be more ways than ever to communicate.

Regardless of which tools are selected, it is important for companies to create standards and guidelines that align individual productivity with team and organizational productivity.

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