Take a people-first approach to office collaboration tools

January 12, 20173 Minute Read

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Many of us in today’s workforce grew up in the age of the internet and instant messaging. These were, essentially, the precursors to modern workplace collaboration tools. As a result, the communication tools now used in offices go way beyond email. Today, there are dozens of options to make sure people stay connected to work.

With the advent of social media, teleconferencing, and chatbots, there’s almost no need to actually talk to someone. It seems unlikely, given that Facebook alone already has more than 11,000 different bots on its Messenger platform. But not all bots are created equal, and a people-first mindset should be IT’s top priority when it comes to exploring and adopting office collaboration tools.

Sometimes, less is more

Even the simple buzz of a smartphone can prove distracting in the digital age. That’s right—not only are we not supposed to multitask, but even being aware of an alert, whether an email or a text, can damage your productivity. Adobe found that people spend six hours a day on email, which shows that email isn’t becoming obsolete and perhaps holds greater power over workers than we previously thought.

Email is dangerously addicting and has a number of distracting qualities. Communication tools, like chatbots, might change this fact by automating the ways we exchange information. When it comes to communication platforms, less is really more—and bots are a great example, because they allow you to accomplish only what’s needed to move forward strategically.

Integrations aren’t always made equal

Sure, Slack as a messaging platform allows integrations as diverse as Trello (for workflow) to Giphy (for cat animations). But you shouldn’t add every slick integration into a collaborative platform just because you can. Yes, it’s great that you can hook many data sources into collaboration systems, but not everyone appreciates the distraction of extra—and sometimes unneeded—information.

This is especially true in today’s workplaces. Despite the never-ending stream of animated cats, work remains a place where productivity should align with success. So, just because a communication platform offers a whiz-bang new integration, it doesn’t equate to actual usefulness. These may prove more beneficial to software developers creating integrations, since it outright shows their productivity.

Remember people-centric simplicity

Communication tools enable an always-on mindset, but that doesn’t automatically create effectiveness. Even so, social tools in the workplace can be as productive as many claim, and those who spend the time to make personal connections one on one will have the upper hand. The pros and cons of various tools are up for discussion, and it falls on IT to make the right calls for their users and ensure tech helps—rather than hurts—office productivity.

Managers still individually meet with people. Executives still hold board meetings. HR still interviews candidates in person. Clearly, a people-first mindset is important in the workplace—it can even make or break an employee depending on how competitive a job is.

The ability to send mass emails or blanket texts via collaboration tools won’t impress everyone. But the ability to speak clearly and thoughtfully will always be important. Helping people collaborate and communicate clearly and efficiently can make the difference between aversion to office tech tools and a harmonious, people-centric system that keeps the office absolutely humming.

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