The office won’t fix your collaboration problems
Neither will tech tools.
Why You Should Care
Employees know that collaboration is crucial, but they are struggling to do it successfully.
Is more tech or returning to the office the solution? Mural research says no.
Instead, upskilling and being intentional around collaboration is key.
In the hybrid world of work, employees are struggling to collaborate, and this is impacting business outcomes.
Mural and Microsoft surveyed 4,000 employees globally (they were a mixture of fully remote, hybrid or office-based workers). 81% said that collaboration was very or extremely important to their success at work, but they struggle to do it right.
Although 43% of respondents spent more than nine hours a week collaborating, 51% said they were not doing it well. Half of respondents also noted they are either not happy, or only somewhat happy, with how their team collaborates.
The main obstacles to collaborate, according to Mural’s report, were too many unproductive meetings, a lack of alignment across teams, and unclear priorities and expectations.
This suggests that the current approach of over-meeting (and the resulting meeting fatigue) is not working. In fact, it is harming your business; Mural’s report stated: “An over-indulgent meeting culture is not only costing companies more, but it’s also the number one reason why teams struggle with collaboration.”
Another failing is an over-reliance on collaboration tools, with 47% of respondents who use five or more technologies still running into collaboration obstacles.
In this context, it makes sense that businesses have leaned on the office to fix their collaboration woes.
But Mural’s report found that while returning to the office may fix employee’s social interaction needs, it isn’t necessarily the solution to collaboration challenges.
43% of respondents doing full-time office work faced collaboration obstacles at work and 42% were somewhat or not happy with how their team collaborates.
Skills, not tech, are the answer
So, what is the solution?
According to Mural, organizations need to lean into intentional collaboration. Workers need to upskill and learn how to collaborate, and they need the support of managers and leaders to succeed.
62% of respondents said they had no formal collaboration skills, and this means they are struggling to ensure their collaboration processes have clear goals, roles and outcomes.
If organizations can get this right, then they will not only improve business outcomes in terms of productivity and collaboration, but also around morale and retention.
52% of those who have intentionally designed collaboration at their organizations rarely or never feel disengaged, and 76% said they would stay longer at their organization if they benefitted from more learning and development.
The report found that employees who always design collaboration experiences are two-times as likely to say they’re happy with how their team collaborates as those who never design workplace collaboration experiences.
Mural’s chief evangelist Jim Kalbach shares with UNLEASH: “Collaboration is crucial to the employee experience, yet the report shows its too often left to chance.
“The more intentional you are about collaboration, the more benefits you’ll see.”
Ultimately, “extraordinary teamwork isn’t some accident — it happens by design”, noted the report.
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Allie is an experienced business journalist and can be reached at email@example.com.