The importance of real-time collaboration

Of the 8.7 hours average Americans spend at work each day, less than half of their time (45 percent) is used performing the primary duties of their job, according to a 2014 report conducted by Harris Poll. Approximately 14 percent is spent managing email, 8 percent on interruptions for non-essential tasks, and 7 percent for ‘wasteful’ meetings—and that is frightening. Employees find nearly one-third of their work day hijacked due to inefficient internal communications. But with smarter collaboration tools and project management programs, enterprises may expect to raise worker productivity by minimizing the distraction of email, unnecessary meetings and other workplace interruptions.

As businesses aim to accelerate growth, employees will need to learn to work together intelligently. Real-time collaboration plays a critical role in ensuring everyone is accountable and productive. This way, communication flows more fluidly and team members have access to the information and materials they need to produce high-value deliverables in a timely manner. By empowering workers to make an immediate impact, fewer initiatives get put to the side or thrown on the back burner. Plus, projects are often completed sooner.

Let’s consider the increasing importance of real-time collaboration for businesses looking to become more efficient even as they grow.

A system of exchange, feedback and quality assurance

“One of the lessons I learned early on after launching my firm, LexION Capital Management, was the importance of fostering team-work,” says CEO Elle Kaplan. “This is why I created a system of real-time exchanges and feedback in order to establish a more collaborative work environment, and ultimately get the best out of my team.”

The company, an independent wealth management firm, uses a digital task system which “allows team members to communicate directly with one another on any project.” Email and instant messaging alone are limited solutions. “By uploading projects to this unique system, team members are able to conduct quality checks on the work of others and improve upon the quality of the project through real-time collaboration,” added Kaplan.

With a collaboration solution in place, managers and peers alike are able to gain better control of the review process, tracking changes and comparing current and past versions. Critical information is kept centralized, with all team members always having access to the latest content and materials (e.g. marketing and sales collateral, legal documents, etc.).

Real-time collaboration also reduces barriers to success. For Kaplan, it is important to let her team at LexION Capital self-manage—a primary motivation for developing “a system of accountability that works to deliver good work using the strengths of each individual team member.”

Improved knowledge management and productivity

When FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm, tripled its headcount, it needed to streamline its internal knowledge transfer processes to improve onboarding for new employees. For better knowledge management, FSG licensed Central Desktop and developed dedicated workspaces in which teams working on specific consulting engagements could collaborate.

With client-specific content and conversations in one place, outsiders looking in can easily pick up where their peers left off and take action immediately. Collaboration platforms are huge time savers since workers rarely ever have to search for hours or days to retrieve critical project information or wait on a response from a busy colleague. This minimizes confusion, improves enterprise-wide communication, and keeps agile and productive teams in-the-know at all times.

User adoption and the future of work

According to a study by business technology solutions and managed services provider Avanade, “77 percent of business and IT leaders say their companies are currently using social collaboration technologies” and “82 percent of businesses currently using social collaboration tools want to use more of them in the future.”

Real-time collaboration is well on its way to being standard practice.

Marc-Alexis Remond, Global Senior Director of Polycom, says, “Businesses, government agencies, education, and healthcare institutions must embed collaboration solutions into the DNA of their organization to unleash the power of human collaboration.”

As firms explore new ways of working, they must embrace “business transformation to improve performance, efficiencies, and operations by integrating people, process, and technology,” says Remond.

Of course, collaborative tools are only a partial solution to productivity woes. At their core, enterprises and small businesses must avoid self-sabotage and should foster a culture that champions real-time collaboration.

Post by Danny Wong

Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer, and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award winning menswear company focusing on luxury made-to-measure garments) and does marketing at Grapevine (a platform that drives eCommerce, helping retailers partner with YouTube celebrities). Tweet him @dannywong1190