It’s hard to imagine our work lives without collaboration tools. Whether you attend Zoom meetings or brainstorm projects (and send the occasional humorous GIF) on Slack, these solutions have become foundational elements of the workplace – even moreso in recent times, when most workplaces became more digital than ever before.
And much like in our personal lives, where we all have our preferred methods of communicating, every employee has unique preferences when it comes to collaborating in the workspace.
If those preferences make for only small differences between colleagues, there’s little harm done. But if employees are using entirely different collaboration tools from one another, these subtle preferences quickly become serious problems.
When a segment of employees is hesitant to adopt a certain tool – or they simply ignore the solution in favor of one they prefer using – it creates headaches for both IT professionals and the workers they’re trying to help.
IT teams get bogged down in additional work, fixing issues within multiple tools that serve the same function. Employees grow frustrated, both with tools they don’t like and colleagues who they can’t get on the same page with. Productivity and communication both suffer – and that’s not to mention the security risks of employees using shadow IT solutions in lieu of approved tools.
If this problem sounds familiar, you’ve come to the right place. Read on as we offer steps to drive adoption for collaboration tools – and keep every employee happy in the process.
1. Measure real-time usage of standardized collaboration tools vs. shadow solutions.
Given the increasing reliance on collaboration tools in the workplace, IT teams can no longer rely on guesswork to determine how effective these tools actually are.
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Instead, they should seek to gain deep visibility – not just into application performance, but also into real-time usage and adoption metrics. This at-a-glance view will reveal how much time employees spend engaging with the company’s standard collaboration apps as well as alternative shadow solutions. IT pros will then be able to determine:
- How successful the deployment of a new collaboration tool has been
- The alternative collaboration tools employees are using
- How many employees prefer alternative collaboration methods
An IT team can then segment employees into distinct personas based on their collaboration preferences. These personas might include “high usage” (employees who engage frequently with the standardized collaboration tool), “non-engaged” (those who show infrequent usage of the tool), “shadow users” (those with high usage of different, unapproved collaboration tools).
This sort of specific segmentation enables IT teams to move forward in improving adoption and minimizing the consequences of shadow IT usage.
2. Combine employee sentiment and technical data to understand resistance to adoption.
An at-a-glance view into your collaboration tools will tell you how successful adoption has been across the board, but it won’t tell you why – which is equally important to solving the problem of poor adoption or shadow IT.
It’s essential to add context to the real-time technical data by gathering feedback about collaboration tools directly from employees.
IT teams can collect this valuable sentiment data through targeted engagement messages, asking employees what they like and dislike about the primary collaboration tools they’re supposed to be using.
This step is not predicated on chastising employees for using the wrong tools – rather, it’s about identifying the causes of poor adoption and determining an actionable solution. Employee sentiment will help you understand whether low adoption stems from a subjective preference, technical limitations of the tool in question, working style, or other factors.
For example: let’s say your company has recently designated Microsoft Teams as the standardized method for instant messaging between employees. However, by analyzing technical data you recognize that a number of employees have continued to communicate primarily through Google Chat. Direct feedback from employees reveals that they prefer a specific messaging feature that Teams doesn’t offer.
From there, you’re able to deploy personalized education messages to employees who have yet to make the switch to Teams. Through these messages, employees can learn more about the benefits of the tool as well as the alternative features they might have been previously unaware of.
3. Update collaboration tools and determine acceptable alternatives.
The goal of optimizing collaboration tools is to get employees on the same page, using the same tools to interact and work together. However, it’s important for IT leaders to recognize that they can’t restrict employees from having personal preferences entirely, especially in an area as subjective as collaboration.
Based on the technical and sentiment data referenced above, IT teams can update their strategy surrounding collaboration tools to minimize risk while keeping employees satisfied.
For example: employees conducting video meetings through both Zoom and Microsoft Teams might lead to some confusion, but is relatively harmless both in terms of security risks and as a threat to productivity. In this scenario, the IT team can safely designate Zoom as an acceptable alternative to the company’s primary video conferencing tool.
On the other hand, let’s say there’s a messaging platform that presents far greater security liabilities than Microsoft Teams. In this case, employees who use that tool can be given personalized instruction to help make the permanent switch to the more secure platform.
Collaboration Optimization for a Stronger, More In-Sync Workforce
Technology has transformed the way we work in many different ways, including the ways we work together. Collaboration tools are an essential piece of every company’s technology stack – and despite the ubiquity of tools like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, it’s a guarantee that we’ll see many more new tools gain traction and become staples in the digital workplace.
Optimizing collaboration solutions shouldn’t be about setting standards and rules that workers have to either abide by or get left behind. Instead, IT teams should seek to empower employees by managing, updating, and ultimately improving the tools employees rely on to communicate with one another.
Want to learn more? Nexthink’s new Collaboration Optimization library pack enables EUC managers and application owners to understand collaboration tool usage and adoption more deeply. Use Focus Time to see into real-time usage, identify resistance to change, build unique personas and engage with employees to improve adoption for a new or pre-existing collaboration tool.