Collaboration in the workplace is not a new concept. For years, employees have been sharing ideas and working together to complete projects, solve problems, drive innovation, and ultimately achieve business goals.
While the concept of collaboration has not changed much over the years, the tools used for collaborating have been steadily increasing in sophistication and number, thanks to technological advancements. Besides calling, emailing, and holding in-person meetings, people can now hold video conferences, chat over the Internet, share computer screens, use co-authoring services, and more.
In a study conducted by Microsoft and YouGov, more than 14,000 people in seven countries shared their views on collaboration and the tools they use to achieve it. The results reveal three insights that can help businesses develop an environment conducive to collaboration:
1. Different Generations Prefer Different Collaboration Tools
The Microsoft-YouGov study found that the collaboration tools people use most often varies depending on their age. For example, Generation Z’ers tend to use chat services, while Baby Boomers typically attend in-person meetings. table 1 shows the top two tools used by each generation represented in the study. (The participants ranged in age from 18 to 59.)
table 1. Most Commonly Used Collaboration Tools by Generation
|Generation||No. 1 Tool||No. 2 Tool|
|Generation Z’ers (participants 18-21 years old)||Chat||In-person meetings|
|Millennials (participants 22-34 years old)||Emails||In-person meetings|
|Generation X’ers (participants 35-54 years old)||Emails||In-person meetings|
|Baby Boomers (participants 55-59 years old)||In-person meetings||Emails|
Businesses need to keep in mind that not everyone likes to collaborate the same way. By providing several different types of collaboration tools, employees will be able to select the ones they find most effective.
2. Remote Employees Have Different Collaboration Needs
Telecommuting to work is common nowadays. A 2018 study found that 70% of professionals worldwide work remotely at least one day a week, while 53% work remotely at least half of each week.
Companies that let employees telecommute to work should make sure those workers’ collaboration needs are met. The Microsoft-YouGov study provides some insight on what those needs are. It found that 41% of the remote workers strongly favored video conferencing for collaboration. In comparison, only 23% of the non-telecommuting employees felt this way. Screen sharing is another collaboration tool that remote workers valued more highly than non-remote employees.
3. Some People Get More Stressed by New Technology Than Others
Given that Generation Z’ers have grown up in the digital age, you might think they would be the group least stressed by the introduction of new technology in the workplace. However, 50% said they feel stressed when new collaboration tools are introduced, compared with 43% of Millennials and 40% of Generation X’ers. Baby Boomers are the least bothered, with only 38% indicating that the rollout of new collaboration tools is stressful.
So, when introducing a new collaboration tool, companies need to keep in mind that this change might not be greeted with enthusiasm. To help employees feel less stressed, it is important to provide training on how to use the tool. It is also important to let them know how it will help make their jobs better.