What many companies consider their best collaboration tools are simply chat platforms. In 2013, about 1% of the 5.5 hours employees spent on a screen every day was spent on a chat or messaging platform. In 2019, that number surpassed 5% of total screen time each day. Unfortunately, productivity didn’t typically rise alongside the rate of chatting.
On the contrary, conventional chat platforms can create more ways for people to talk about doing things but provide little opportunity for actually taking action. If two people chat about a process mixup and sort it out via chat, that information is likely lost soon after they finish the conversation. The information isn’t saved, searchable, or shared with anyone else — which means the next time someone has the same question, he or she will also lose time chatting about it instead of moving on to the next step of the process.
Excessive chat like this is most often a symptom of ineffective manual workflows, where information, people, and processes are disconnected from each other or siloed within different programs. The excess chat rises up around these fractured workflows in an attempt to piece together what actually needs to be done — instead of enabling workers to simply do it.
Spur Your Teams Into Action With True Workflow Collaboration Tools
To improve operational efficiency across the board, teams need better collaboration tools that empower workers to focus on doing more instead of chatting more. Anyone who manages employees and has the power to enact change and delegate tasks, manage a budget, and oversee large projects at a company will have insights about where collaboration could be stronger. These employees — such as operations, logistics, facilities, or field services managers — are likely seeing their chat channels constantly going off because people need them all the time.
By implementing the right workflow collaboration tool, however, these managers can create smoother processes, cut down on chat time, and spur their teams into action. Here’s what that might look like within your organization:
You’re starting a new project for your company. You need to define what that project is, create the team, and identify the project’s parameters. What will make that project run are the communication channels your team uses to collaborate and the way everyone is updated with important information, such as task completion or delay. A workflow collaboration tool that allows you to take the following steps will make that collaboration as productive as possible:
Step 1: Open channels of communication to project stakeholders.
When the two people talking in a chat are the only ones who can view the conversation, it stifles visibility within your operations. For true operational efficiency, every project stakeholder should be able to see the conversations happening around a project. This way, the people involved can access any contextual information they may need, see where processes are getting bottlenecked, and recognize where they need smoother workflows.
Step 2: Create teams and assign tasks.
As you piece together a team for a project and delegate specific responsibilities to each member, your workflow collaboration tool should allow you to set up each task that a worker will need to complete. The tool should allow workers to easily see which tasks are on their agenda — like a to-do list.
Step 3: Implement the assigned tasks.
This is where the work gets done. When team members can see exactly what they’re supposed to do and when on one dashboard, they can easily understand the full common operational picture and act with that in mind. Your workflow collaboration tool should automatically gather all conversations, data, process information, and further context on the project into one place so workers know what to reference if they have questions or need more information to complete a task. That way, they don’t have to message you every time they meet a small bump in the road.
Step 4: Communicate when tasks are complete.
As you and your team work through your tasks to complete the project, individuals should have the capability to check off when they’ve completed a task. The software should then update you and other team members in real time of the completion of each task, so everyone has full visibility into the project’s progression and any derailments.
By organizing communication and tasking on a per-project basis, you can cut down on the amount of idle chat and enable more productivity. Your teams can move projects forward instead of just messaging you and each other, trying to figure out what happens next. This creates a greater sense of purpose for your employees, enables more visibility, and improves operational efficiency overall.