Is Social Collaboration the Way of the Future?

• Collaboration

Companies that communicate and collaborate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to retain their top employees. 86 percent of employees believe failures in the workplace happen because of a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication. 

Most business leaders already know how important collaboration is for their internal teams to work seamlessly and efficiently. But why does social collaboration matter so much?  

Social collaboration is what encourages employees from different verticals of the company to come together and collaborate. Social collaboration can be anything from a CEO wanting to unite different business units to an HR head wanting to work with different department leaders to create a more collaborative workplace.

While social collaboration is not a new concept, its digitization through corporate collaboration tools is what makes it so powerful and the future of work

What is social collaboration?

Social collaboration is the process through which multiple people, groups, or departments can interact with each other to achieve common goals. 

At the most basic level, social collaboration happens when people work together as a team on a particular project. They may also use digital tools to collaborate and contribute to the project if they are working remotely from different physical locations. 

In some cases, social collaboration is also referred to as enterprise social networking and the products that support collaboration are called enterprise social networks. Though, your organization doesn’t have to have an enterprise network just to benefit from social collaboration. 

The idea is to give your employees a seamless collaboration platform through which they can communicate with members of their team or other departments easily. 

The benefits of social collaboration

1. Better understanding of projects across the organization

When employees are siloed and teams work independently, they might only have knowledge about their own projects and have absolutely no idea about what the other teams are doing. 

This in turn leads to siloed results which may only benefit one part of the organization instead of benefiting the entire organization as a whole. 

For instance, if your IT development team is designing a new landing page, then without collaborating with the sales or marketing team, they may end up designing a landing page which looks good but doesn’t align with the company’s current brand identity and it may not even give you any visible conversions. 

Instead, by socially collaborating with the marketing and sales team, your IT team can create powerful landing pages that look great and convert as well. 

When employees are interested in a project that another team is handling, they can reach out to the team members to see how everyone can collaborate to deliver the best results possible. Socializing the work across the organization makes employees more aware of the bigger picture 

2. Easier knowledge transfer

Employees regularly encounter questions and challenges during their day to day work that they might not be able to solve immediately. And sometimes, they might not even know who to ask. 

For instance, your marketing team may be using a reporting tool for the first time that the sales team has already been using for the last three months. By encouraging someone from the sales team to help guide the marketing team with the new tool and resolve all their queries, it’s possible to drastically decrease the learning curve. The sales team can share all the lessons, tips, and challenges they have learned in the past few months and make it easier for the marketing team to kickstart their work.

You can also create a dedicated communication channel where teams can post their queries and any employee working across the company can respond. An effective social collaboration strategy can make knowledge transfer easier and more seamless. Moreover, when knowledge is available to other employees in a more public way, it will also minimize the transition period when an employee leaves the organization. 

3. Better products 

When employees from different domains, niches, and skillsets come together, new perspectives are gained which directly leads to better results. The new insights can help teams come up with more creative and effective solutions.

When your team is facing a bottleneck situation, seeing it from a different pair of eyes can give you a fresh approach to the plan and enhance the overall product development process.

The more employees socialize through collaboration, the more opportunity they will have to enhance their work and minimize any potential risks. 

4. Improved company culture 

When employees working on different projects support each other, there is less fear of failure among them because every project essentially becomes a group project. By combining a culture of transparency and openness, company leaders can encourage employees to be honest about what they know, and more importantly, what they don’t know. 

This in turn creates a culture of collaboration and upskilling where employees actually want to learn new skills and concepts from their counterparts. It can be empowering and liberating at the same time.

Social collaboration needs a top to bottom approach

Since all companies are structured differently, the collaboration will also look different depending on their overall organizational structure. Some organizations still follow a hierarchical model where decision-makers and employees are two different kinds. But recently, many organizations are following the flat hierarchy with few or no middle management positions which give employees more freedom and allow them to become a part of the decision making process.

No matter what structure your organization follows, you can implement social collaboration by taking a top-down approach and using the right collaboration tools

A top-down approach means social collaboration has to start at the top level of the organization for it to be successfully implemented at the bottom level.

It is the CEOs, CFOs, and department heads who need to work together to find the best ways for the employees to socially collaborate. After all, when employees see more experienced team members collaborating and working closely, they will feel more encouraged and inspired to reach out to other teams.

Why is social collaboration more important today?

Companies now have more remote employees than ever due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While team managers are working with their employees to ensure they don’t feel isolated from the team due to a lack of face to face communication, it’s still difficult for employees to know what is happening in the company outside of their team. 

Social collaboration can help employees feel connected to the rest of the organization by giving them a clear idea about what projects the other teams are working on even when they are not working from the same physical office space. 

With social collaboration, organizations can:

  • Achieve higher growth through improved employee productivity and efficiency
  • Upskill employees by connecting them with experts within the company through informal or formal internal collaboration channels 
  • Drive innovation as employees come together to share ideas and knowledge
  • Improve visibility and transparency within the organization
  • Lower employee training costs since information and knowledge becomes easily available 
  • Enhance overall employee turnover rate as efficient company collaboration gives employees a solid sense of belonging 

A digital workplace platform can streamline social collaboration 

Introducing a new collaboration tool just to enable social collaboration within your organization, can overwhelm your employees who might already be using dozens of applications already. Moreover, a separate application for socially collaborating won’t be a big enough push for employees to use it regularly.

Instead, you can implement a digital workplace platform within your company to manage all the projects, processes, tasks, and internal communication. With a digital workplace, it becomes possible to foster a digitally driven culture of collaboration, share knowledge more effectively, and deliver better results.