10 Signs You May Be Hindering – Not Helping – Collaboration and Productivity Across Your Organization

Are you helping your workforce change how they work, engage, and collaborate as we move forward? Or holding them back?

The future of work is evolving. Ensure your workforce is empowered to do their best work by eliminating barriers to efficiency.

When employees face ongoing inefficiencies, bottlenecks, outdated apps, and broken processes throughout their day, those barriers can hamper operations, reduce profits, and impact employee morale – stalling collaboration and productivity while eating up valuable time and money.

These challenges aren’t likely to go anywhere soon. If they aren’t recognized and addressed, they are likely to get worse than better.

And to remain competitive, organizations are going to need to adapt to an entirely new way of working going forward.

That’s why today, more than ever, organizations need to focus on creating a people-first work environment – and address the core drivers of a holistic digital workplace across their organization – to ensure that all their employees have easy access to the same information, data, apps, and systems they need to do their job regardless of their location.

So Much Buzz  – And Confusion

But let’s face it: the buzz and definitions around collaboration, productivity, digital workplace, and people-first are confusing – often meaning different things to different people.

Insights from Avanade’s 2022 Global Workplace Research Report found that while most of the organizations they surveyed say they put their people first to transform their workplace strategy and employee experience, the data showed a sharp contradiction to fulfilling that promise. Key findings from their research found that:

  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents’ organizations haven’t taken steps to streamline their employee experience and application ecosystem to help their people access what they need more easily.
  • 66% have yet to implement a virtualized workplace environment – providing access to applications and data anywhere, from any device.
  • 60% haven’t enabled seamless communication and collaboration for all employees (front office, office-based, and remote) via a cloud workplace platform.
  • 61% are failing to simplify knowledge management and sharing through cloud-based platforms, AI, or automation.
  • 67% haven’t embraced automation and AI to simplify workflows and increase productivity and efficiency.

One of their key takeaways: Every organization genuinely wants to be (and many think they already are) people first but being truly people first isn’t easy. Especially if you don’t understand the type of challenges your employees face throughout their day.

10 Signs You Are [Unintentionally] Hindering – Not Helping – Collaboration and Productivity Across Your Organization:

If you or your leaders are struggling to understand what a people-first, digital workplace looks like – and how collaboration and productivity tie into it – start by taking a hard look at the common barriers holding employees back.

At Xgility, we find that our customers are often facing the same critical challenges when it comes to tackling knowledge management, document storage, tech sprawl, and Microsoft 365 rollouts. And while you may not realize it, those barriers are affecting not only your employees but your IT team.

Let’s dive in.

1. Content Sprawl:
No one can find the content or information they need on the intranet or in SharePoint. A 2021 study by Cornell University and Qatalog found that in a typical day, people spend 59 minutes simply looking for information trapped within tools and applications. That’s up to 5 hours a week – simply trying to find what we need. Unsurprisingly about 7 in 10 people (69%) reported that finding the information to do their job is time-consuming.

2. Inefficient Collaboration:
People are still collaborating by sending files back and forth via email. And storing their documents in OneDrive. Oh, and using Zoom, Box, Google Docs, Slack, and more.

3. Email Overload:
Email is used for both internal and external communications. The sheer volume is overwhelming – making it difficult to effectively communicate.

4. App Overload:
Your employees are using lots of different apps, systems, and platforms for online meetings, calls, chats, collaboration, and file sharing and storage. The 2021 Cornell University and Qatalog study also found that – on average – people reported spending 36 minutes every day switching back and forth between applications. And people reported taking 9.5 minutes on average to get back into a good workflow once they are switched between apps.

5. Microsoft Teams is Under-Utilized:
Employees are only using Microsoft Teams for internal online meetings or chats because they don’t understand how to use its other features. Or IT disabled key features because they didn’t understand them either.

6. Microsoft 365 Confusion:
You have Microsoft 365 which includes SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, and OneDrive from Business but your IT team is not sure how to utilize all those apps and systems. Neither do your employees. Plus, your help desk is overwhelmed trying to support it all – and answer all their user questions too. But everyone is trying their best.

7. Process Fragmentation:
Your automated business processes are now out of date, legacy workflows have broken, and there’s a backlog of new automation and workflow projects from various departments. And you are still using InfoPath. You’ve started to dabble with Power Automate but other priorities keep getting in the way of making real progress.

8. Outdated Apps:
Plus, your legacy custom apps don’t quite work anymore – especially when it comes to connecting with new systems. Your employees are frustrated when they have to use them. Power Automate and Power Apps seem like great tools to address those issues. Your IT team has it on the list. But they are too busy addressing #1–7.

9. Governance Challenges:
Your IT team is under pressure to roll out a governance plan for data protection. But no one is quite sure where to start.

10. Confusing Buzzwords & Mandates:
Your leadership wants the IT team to drive better collaboration. It’s a hot topic. Also, they want a better Employee Experience and are concerned about the Great Resignation. But no one is quite sure what any of that means.

The good news: These problems are solvable.

Innovation is Less about Technology & More about Putting People First

Shifting to a people-first workplace means people-first — technology and corporation second. Not the other way around.

Today, leaders and IT teams must make strategic decisions to empower their employees and create an optimum digital workplace experience that gets everyone on the same page for secure, seamless collaboration, communication, and productivity with a new mindset. Once you understand the key barriers and issues your employees and IT teams face, you can start addressing the challenges.

During this quest to transform, you and key stakeholders will need to rethink and reimagine how to help your employees work in new ways that drive higher employee engagement, collaboration, productivity, and innovation – and real culture change.

A key point: You want to help simplify the way your employees work through their day – not make them work harder.

Start with a clear vision and develop a long-term strategic plan that will result in positive improvements across your organization – saving significant time and money. Part of that journey means connecting your people, applications, and processes in a holistic and unified way across your organization – breaking down silos and getting everyone on the same page. Then build a solid and secure cloud-based foundation that’s agile and scalable.

Ultimately, this comes done to a critical blend that includes:

  • Strategic upfront planning to identify goals and business outcomes. This step is critical for long-term success and keeps everyone – including the IT team, C-Suite, and employees – on the same page.
  • Empowering your employees to be part of the process – they are the ones actually doing the work. Look at how each department works and have employees explain how they store files, collaborate, and communicate.
  • Providing the right tools – not more tools. Start by solving the “What Tool When” challenge when it comes to Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business. The power of words and definitions can’t be underestimated when it comes to “how and when” to use applications like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive for Business – especially since both do similar things.
  • Eliminating redundant applications. This will help reduce time spent switching between multiple apps throughout the day. Not only does this benefit your employees but by eliminating duplicate applications, you can eliminate shadow IT, reduce security and data loss issues, eliminate licensing costs, and free up your IT team from maintaining so many different systems.
  • Finding ways to streamline communication and collaboration consistently across your organization. Start by reducing the volume of email by communicating and collaborating through Microsoft Teams channels.
  • Streamlining file storage and sharing: Share and store files with consistency in Teams and SharePoint.  Rethink and redefine your goals for your intranet to take advantage of the new features and functionalities that make it more user-friendly and engaging – and start using Microsoft Teams channels for collaboration.
  • Automating document workflows and electronic signatures for key departments including HR.
  • Finding ways to use often under-utilized features and capabilities in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Power Platform to streamline processes across departments and projects.
  • Modernizing legacy apps with low-code platforms like Power Apps.
  • Implementing an equitable governance plan that will provide the right structure to keep your data safe giving the flexibility your workforce needs to be productive throughout the day.
  • Providing onboarding information and “How To” materials in a Knowledge Hub. This can be a powerful way to help prepare employees to use Teams, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint in a consistent manner – empowering them to be self-sufficient while removing the burden from the IT team and Help Desk.
  • Ongoing communication. Communication is crucial for all stages of new initiatives. Provide clear guidance around processes, expectations, deadlines, and drive excitement.
  • Helping everyone adapt with ongoing change management. It’s key to success and must start at the strategic planning stages. Getting buy-in from employees is critical to help drive adoption and overcome resistance to new technologies.

Let technology play a supporting role in people’s productivity and connectedness — not the starring role. Relying on technology or just keeping up with the latest software updates to improve productivity and collaboration will only lead to failure.

Don’t keep putting off addressing barriers and challenges to collaboration and productivity — regardless of where you are in your digital workplace journey.  By empowering your employees to do their best work — and helping to alleviate the burden on your IT team and help desk — you’ll help save valuable time and money. And help increase morale all around.

Ready to Get Started?

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, our Strategy & Advisory Team can help your organization rethink, reimagine, and transform how you work and collaborate for today and the future – while empowering your IT team and workforce to be more productive, secure, agile, and innovative along the way.

At Xgility, we know that rolling out new technologies – especially Microsoft 365 and its business applications – is no easy task for both the IT Team and end-users. And with new technologies comes change – and we all know change isn’t easy. When new technology initiatives aren’t done right, it can lead to low adoption, shadow IT, unsecured data, and frustration all around.

As your trusted partner, we can help your organization connect the dots between your technology and business goals, reduce application redundancy, streamline processes, modernize systems and apps, and develop an equitable governance and security plan – while keeping your people at the center to drive real culture change and adoption – and driving value with your Microsoft platform investments including Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Azure. Ready to get started? Contact Us Now »