Long before the word "COVID-19" entered our vocabulary, most working places knew about the term "digital collaboration". Some had already implemented it, others were well on their way. But quite a few businesses noticed a significant gap that had to be closed. And using digital collaboration tools has been proven to not just be effective, but to boost employee happiness as well!
Basic fact: people are social beings
Human beings are, by their very nature, social. Setting aside the eternal discussion between introverts vs. extroverts, in the end John Donne had it right: No man is an island. So it makes sense that we enjoy interacting with each other at the office, having a conversation whilst enjoying a morning coffee, or sparring about business ideas in the same room together. Being able to read each others' body language and having that social interaction improves overall wellbeing amongst co-workers.
But what to do when offices are closed for months on end? How do you keep that workplace spark alive?
Why digital collaboration contributes to employees' overall wellbeing
Digital collaboration has been hailed as an important digital skill for workers to have. In fact, having great and effective digital collaboration tools is - it turns out - fundamental to employees' happiness at work.
A Global Wellbeing report¹ found that wellbeing at work was closely related to having a great workspace, outfitted to the different needs of employees. Providing whiteboards to brainstorm together, separate office space for quick chats before and after meetings... Creating a great place to work means building camaraderie & inviting collaboration. But as offices close, digital tools need to fill up that need for a great workspace.
In addition, a survey on remote work² found that remote workers attend, on average, more meetings than employees who work on-site. They also communicate more with their colleagues - probably because they are working remotely. So social interaction is, more than ever, important and being able to collaborate well together has a significant impact on employees' wellbeing while doing their job.
We can therefore state that investing in digital collaboration tools is key in improving employees' happiness, and we all know that happy employees naturally become more engaged³. And that engagement is key to delivering your business goals.
Choosing between digital collaboration tools
No matter how small or large your company is, if you're working remotely, then it's crucial to use digital collaboration tools. How else are you going to work together? But naturally, there's a plethora of different tools available and navigating the best ones isn't always easy. Except it's quite simple: it depends on your business needs.
Do you need to be able to communicate a lot with your team in short messages? Then Slack might be fun to try out. Do you need to communicate a lot, but you also need to be able to share files and call each other easily? Then Teams with a Sharepoint integration may be a better way. Depending on your business needs, there is always a suitable solution, so do a little digging to find out what works for you.
Next, think about your team: what's their current skill level at working with digital tools? How complex can you go? Keep in mind that digital collaboration tools won't increase employees' happiness if they're not effective, so don't choose a tool that's recommended as "best in class" but that doesn't work for you and your team! Luckily, many tools have trial periods before purchase: so experiment with your team to find the best option for your organisation.
So what's keeping you? ... Right. 😉 Good luck!
1. "Global Wellbeing Report", O.C.TANNER, 2019.
2. "Remote work isn't the future of work - it's the present", Owl labs, 2019.
3. "Happiness: A new paradigm for measurement in the corporate sector", People Matters Digital Magazine, 2021.