Collaboration overload: How to detect it and what to do about it

Collaboration tool overload might be hurting your productivity.

Staff members from disparate departments were traditionally siloed due to differing responsibilities and legacy ideas of business hierarchy. Collaboration tools largely helped to knock down these barriers to increase visibility and create a well-oiled operations machine. While there are certainly benefits to be gained from collaboration efforts, how valuable are the tools and processes that are being utilized? Your business might have collaboration overload and not even realize that you're losing time and money from these systems. Let's take a closer look at how to determine if you have collaboration overload and what you can do about it.

Assessing your overload level

Meetings, email and other collaborative processes might actually be limiting our ability to get things done. According to research by Rob Cross and Peter Gray of the University of Virginia's business school, workers spend 70 to 85 percent of their time dealing with email, attending meetings, on the phone or handling requests for input. This leaves many employees to do work when they get home at night, The Economist noted. An environment like this can burn out many workers and make collaboration costs outweigh the potential benefits.

Collaboration overload can impede productivity and outweigh benefits.Collaboration overload can impede productivity and outweigh benefits.

An organization might adopt a collaboration tool – say email – to improve communication across the board. While it makes some advancement, the solution doesn't have all of the features – like voice, video conferencing, etc – that users really need. As a result, more systems are added on to augment capabilities all in the interest of better collaboration. If this sounds like your current environment, your employees are likely experiencing collaboration tool overload.

No one expects to buy multiple tools from the outset, but over the years, businesses can accrue a number of different systems that serve different purposes. While the functionality might be necessary, the number of applications open at any given time can severely slow down productivity. The Wall Street Journal noted that workers will resist using multiple services at a time as they can't launch one more app on their mobile device or don't want to open another window on their computer. These windows can confuse and annoy users, causing them to go digging for essential information they need. While many organizations are tweaking their suite of products to limit jumping around, this isn't enough to fully quell tool overload.

"Overcoming tool overload can be achieved by consolidating applications into one toolset."

Going with UC

Organizational processes and policies must be adjusted to relieve collaboration overload. Harvard Business Review noted that companies must look at the root causes of unproductive collaboration in order to devise a cure. Meetings and other interactions are often seen as a necessity of getting work done within the confines of prescribed structures. This adds significant complexity to operations and will impede workers from collaborating effectively. Leaders can streamline meetings and should communicate essential information during these instances.

Overcoming tool overload can be achieved by consolidating all of the applications for each method into one toolset. A unified communications solution from Teo Tech provides effective, efficient collaboration capabilities through a single platform. That means that staff can easily navigate between each function to search for information without jumping between separate windows. With necessary data and features all in one place, users will be able to improve collaboration and mitigate tool overload.

Collaboration overload is a serious dilemma that can impede staff engagement and quality of work. By understanding the signs of collaboration overload, organizations can take the step to mitigate it. Using a UC system, employees will can bolster productivity and receive necessary functions from a single portal. To find out more about how UC can help your business beat collaboration overload, contact Teo Tech today.