As those in the enterprise know, fostering collaboration and strong communication throughout an organization is crucial for development and progress. Companies today are operating on a global level. Whether it’s with clients, teammates, supervisors or direct reports, we work in a world where we are constantly communicating with others who are not physically in the room with us. In some organizations, virtual communication is standard, even more common than face-to-face.
Telecommuting has its advantages. It allows users access to talent across the globe which provides a variety of perspectives and breaks up group think. However, telecommuting also has its drawbacks, namely, personal communication.
According to 360 Solutions, "a business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communications," which translates to an annual cost of $528,443 – no small cost for any business regardless of size. Additionally, "a business with 100,000 employees loses $62 million a year, an average of $624 per employee."
Companies, meanwhile, that have made internal communications a priority had "47 percent higher total returns to shareholders over the past five years" compared to companies with the least effective communication, according to Towers Watson.
Based on these findings, it is clear that the effectiveness of a company’s communication has an effect on its bottom line. As a result, placing an emphasis on worthwhile communication and collaboration solutions and strategies are imperative for any leader or decision maker.
Don’t let your company be a statistic. Identify the problem and find a solution. Here are a few to get you started.
One of the more common collaboration mistakes companies make is relying on audio-only conferencing. Newsflash: it is not working.
By using solely audio, your audience is likely misinterpreting communicative efforts due to a lack of non-verbal cues or gestures. Audio-only conferencing is old tech and now there are several updated and modern technologies to make conferencing more effective. While it is easy to fall into a rut of “audio is okay” communication practices, it is not your only or best option.
Video communication is your solution to this problem. According to Forbes, "video is becoming a critical information source for employees." In fact, "more than 80 percent of senior executives said that they are watching more video today than they were a year ago." By incorporating video you will be able to engage your more senior employees as well as your younger ones, who are already more experienced with consuming and sharing visual media.
Clearly, video communication is appreciated by your employees but it is also helpful and, moving forward, a necessity. By using video, you can insure that remote communication is as good as face-to-face communication.
A new mistake can arise in the implementation stages if you’re not careful. Depending on the type of organization you have, you may be dealing with reluctant, older coworkers who are resistant to or fearful of change, specifically when it comes to new technology. While it may seem like common sense, not creating a well-thought out implementation plan is a mistake I’ve seen happen repeatedly.
Before you implement any new technology, help coworkers understand why this change is occurring. Take the time to explain context to your team so that they understand the strategy behind choosing a system that’s unfamiliar. Once you point out all of the solution’s benefits, your coworkers will recognize when you are coming from, and will be less likely to put up a fight.
After you’ve explained the implementation, be sure to provide everyone in your organization not only with the tools, but the resources to use new technology correctly. Not everyone is as tech savvy as you are – a fact you need to recognize. Additionally, make sure to emphasize that your door is always open for questions and trouble shooting. Letting your coworkers know that they have a built-in support system is never a bad idea.
Providing your organization with the necessary knowledge, tools and resources is a way to ensure a simpler implementation with minimal resistance.
Another collaboration mistake, and perhaps the most detrimental, is one of consistency, or rather, inconsistency. Often times, the techniques and platforms to the sales or marketing team is using to communicate with clients are not being used internally. As a result, there is a disparity between employees being comfortable with one of the systems and not the other. Ask yourself, is this disparity making matters awkward within the organization? Is everyone familiar and clued in on collaboration processes? If not, this discomfort can take away the benefits of face-to-face communication. Undoubtedly, there is a better technological solution that can be implemented to fit the needs of both internal and external communication. The business will suffer and take steps backwards if team members are fumbling with the technology or incurring numerous technical hiccups.
To avoid this disparity all together, speak with members within the organization to determine deal-breakers and must-haves for conferencing solutions, for both internal and external communications. Using the same system for both will create a culture of comfort and regularity. Ideally, the video conference solution the team uses to speak remotely with clients should be used for internal collaboration when face-to-face interactions are not feasible. Make an investment, both a monetary and time investment, and perfect it.
Collaboration is a critical element for the growth of your business and the quality of the ideas that export. Luckily, there are solutions to the common collaboration pitfalls that many companies experience. By referencing the solutions listed above and executing both face-to-face and virtual communication in the best way possible, companies can better themselves, improve their development and progress.