Employees Not Using Collaboration Tools to ‘Full Effect’

New research reveals that a fifth of UK organisations have some form of collaborative technology in place such as audio and video conferencing, and live chat but only 9% of employees are actively using it to full effect. Over a third fear the technology, fuelled by a lack of training and leadership support.

Despite 23% of UK businesses claiming to save anywhere between £5,000 and £100,000 a year when using modern collaboration software, three quarters (72%) are still using old fashioned and outdated desk phones. There is still a long way to go to achieve desk phone freedom, as no business surveyed was found to employ a mobile only policy.

Collaborative technology is software, platforms, or services that allow people in different locations to communicate and work with each other in a secure environment.

The study, The Collaboration Landscape, conducted by Timico, a Managed Cloud Service Provider, found that over half of executives (57%) believe that the workforce is slow to use collaborative technology because they ‘don’t understand it’. Nearly half (46%) believe that lack of training is to blame for the slow uptake whilst over a third (37%) feel it is due to a lack of management support. Fear and reticence to change is also a big challenge with 43% believing that stubbornness is a barrier to adoption and 38% put it down to fear.Those most likely to embrace collaborative technology are Gen Z’ers according to a third of executives, with Gen Y’s closely followed at 32% and Baby Boomers lagging behind at 12%.

Communication key to adoption

Three quarters of leaders (72%) believe better internal communications will increase the effective use of collaboration technology in the workplace, 63% think that more information needs to be available overall, while over a third (39%) believe that archaic systems are to blame and that more up-to date devices need to be introduced to solve the adoption angst.
Training and education unsurprisingly rated high on the agenda – over half (57%) want more education and ongoing training for staff. Yet, despite a call for better training and support, over a third (39%) of senior executives themselves are in the dark as to whether their business is actually using collaborative technology and 41% are unsure how many people use it in their organisation.

Despite a quarter (24%) of those polled having no knowledge of which departments in their organisation were using collaboration software most effectively, Marketing was cited as the top department for its adoption, closely followed by HR, Accounts/ Finance, Production, Sales and Distribution.

Commenting on the research, Colin Riddle, Head of Products & Services at Timico, said: “It’s clear from our findings that there is a real disconnect in terms of perception and reality when it comes to collaborative technology in the workplace.
“Lack of proper training is stopping true collaboration. Organisations need to have a long-term strategy in place, actively supported by the board, with regular education seminars for employees on the increased productivity and cost benefits of using collaborative technology, while internally appointed ‘Collaboration Gurus’ in the business can help employees positively embrace change and eliminate fear on how and when to use it.

“The digital workplace enables employees to work faster, more productively and efficiently than ever before, and it is a no.1 priority for businesses to get on board and empower their workforce through the effective use of collaborative tools to gain a competitive edge.“

Companies oblivious to potential cost savings

A tenth of organisations (11%) had no idea of the potential cost savings that could be made by the use of collaborative technology – such as reduction in travel costs due to video conferencing – and a shocking 58% did not know if there was any process in place at all to evaluate and monitor cost savings to the business. For those that do have processes in place, 6% believe that their organisations are making savings of £50,000 – 100,000 per year, 9% estimate that costs savings amount to £20,000 – 50,000 per year, and 8% believe that they are saving between £5,000 and £20k per year.

The future is …. the virtual office

Of the small number of businesses that are monitoring their cost savings thanks to collaborative technology, the biggest savings are due to smaller employee overheads. 4% said they have smaller premises due to staff working more flexibly and that savings are made due to increased efficiency. 3% believe they have cut costs with advanced VOIP phone systems and that travel costs have been reduced.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine