You are deep in trying to improve the seven collaboration habits with SWOOP, and you're looking for more insights on how you do it. We've been hunting for the best resources we can find and to make it easy we've grouped into these buckets:
This article from Basecamp, a mature US headquartered software company, identifies the dangers of group chat: “Group chat is like being in an all-day meeting, with random participants, and no agenda”. 17 drawbacks from group chat are provided. The article does provide some balance with 4 positive points e.g. the need for a quick response and social aspects.
This article from Khorus, a customer community collaboration platform, provides a customer service point of view. Many organizations now offer “chat” as a point of customer connection. Khorus makes the case for discussion threaded messaging creating a more customer friendly engagement, than the terse stop/start chat experience.
This SWOOP publication reports from our 2021 Microsoft Teams Benchmarking study, how Chat is the overwhelming dominant usage mode post the COVID-19 pandemic and enforced remote working. We identify the problems that this communication preference generates; substantially being minimal knowledge sharing.
Who Benefits From Chatting, and Why?: The Roles of Extraversion and Supportiveness in Online Chatting and Emotional Adjustment
This academic article found that less extroverted young adults achieved higher levels of self-esteem and showed less depressive symptoms from chatting online with peers. This relates to the positive “social” aspects of chat identified in a previous article.
This is a “pros and cons” article that could be summarised as; if you need fast response from your close team colleagues, chat is the way to go. If you need a more formal communication with a broader group; then Email is best. The features of both are well described.
The author reports this interesting statistic: “A survey by Adobe found people in the workplace spend on average 3.1 hours per day sending and checking their emails alone, amounting to 15.5 hours per week - and a shocking 20 full weeks of the year”. While the article promotes the use of chat, it does identify the distraction issues from notification noise.
At SWOOP Analytics, we would point out though that while we are seeing some Emails being replaced by Chat, it could be viewed as jumping from “the frypan into the fire” in terms of limiting knowledge sharing and accessing richer features of Teams platforms.
This article provides some balance against the anti-email articles above. In essence, the author argues for the current ubiquity of Email; everyone has it, knows how to use it and it is still by far the most used mode of electronic communication. With some effort, it can be configured to operate like a social networking platform. Worth a read to understand what you're up against.
This HBR article provided this scene setting statement: “As such, it’s hardly a surprise that managers in one survey reported 83% of the meetings on their calendars were unproductive, or that US-based professionals rated meetings as the “number one office productivity killer.” The article identifies 8 reasons why we are psychologically bound to preference meetings. Interestingly the article quotes the use of Microsoft’s workplace analytics measure of the number of people multi-taking during meetings as evidence of how dysfunctional they can be.
“Whether a business is talking to itself in the right way is a question that doesn’t get asked well enough, often enough”. The article provides 10 indicators of dysfunctional meetings.
Stop the Meeting Madness: How to free up time for meaningful work
Another HBR article: “ research showing that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s”. Provides advice on how to “stop the madness”.
Interestingly this article was published pre-pandemic. Many of the arguments are the same though, in terms of the impact of unproductive meetings and over-collaborating. The obvious suggestion of having less meetings was made, but also having less people in them i.e. not inviting “just in case” participation, but only the key people.
To provide some balance against the “meetings are bad” argument, this article identifies what meetings are uniquely best and essential for:
“when there is a need for the expression of emotions, when tasks require coordination and timing among members’ activities, when one is attempting to persuade others, or when tasks require consensus on issues that are affected by attitudes or values of the group members”.
In contrast to other articles that blame meetings for workplace stress and burnout, this author argues: “individuals need personal contact with others to satisfy deep primitive psychological needs”.
This article makes the point that most organizations have simply taken their offices home with them, when forced to work from home. The author references the Wordpress “The five levels of remote work” (see below) framework to identify how immature the current remote work practices are.
This article provides the framework mentioned in the previous article. The framework’s author WordPress is acknowledged as a pioneer for “whole company” remote working. Recreating the physical office virtually is Level 2; Working Asynchronously is Level 4. Remote working culture is level 5.
This academic article makes use of Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics data on their email, calendar/meetings activity while working remotely during the pandemic. In this very detailed study of some 900 staff, the researchers found that in general, staff were working longer hours to achieve the same, or lower levels of productivity. The target Indian IT company had quite quantitative measures of staff output. They suggest that the cause could be the higher co-ordination costs when working remotely.
This HBR article provides a counter argument to the previous article: “They spent 12% less time drawn into large meetings and 9% more time interacting with customers and external partners. Lockdown also helped people take responsibility for our own schedules. They did 50% more activities through personal choice and half as many because someone else asked them to. Finally, during lockdown, people viewed their work as more worthwhile. The number of tasks rated as tiresome dropped from 27% to 12%, and the number we could readily offload to others dropped from 41% to 27%.”
The productivity argument always has many facets.
Academic researcher Gloria March, from the University of California, Irvine is known for her finding that it takes on average 25 minutes and 26 seconds (to be precise) to get back on track after an interruption. It’s important to read the research in full, rather than the sound bite; there are many qualifications. Some are that around half of these interruptions are self-inflicted; some interruptions from within your close working sphere are actually beneficial; and that after an interruption the task is often completed faster than if there were no interruption. This paper was published in 2005 but has gained renewed relevance given the escalation of digital interruptions currently being experienced.
Identifies SharePoint and Teams Channels and sharing modes and OneDrive and Chat as personal modes. Describes the “Document circle of life” as: “Feel free to start drafting your file in OneDrive for Business. When you’re ready, move your file to your SharePoint team site where colleagues will provide input and review. You could also draft the file in the team site and leave it there for greatest visibility to the team and then call them out later to bring them into review the file.”
This article highlights the dangers of over-sharing content, suggesting that 35% of files are over-shared. The concerns relate to cyber-security of cloud based systems: “with cloud platforms such as Office 365 organisations are in fact putting unmanaged cloud file-sharing options into employees’ hands”. The author provides advice on better cyber security practices.
Article from e-meeting provider GotoMeeting. A succinct article providing 6 reasons why you should turn the camera on. In essence, it’s for human connection reasons.
“You wouldn’t sit in an office meeting with a paper bag over your head, so why would you not have your camera on during a Zoom or Teams call?”. The author Lou Banks is a workplace psychologist, suggests that turning the camera off is a clear indicator of disconnection. It reinforces the Microsoft data on multi-tasking during meeting i.e. disconnecting.
This research provides a counter-view indicating that camera on is responsible for workplace fatigue and not the longer hours. The critical issue is seeing yourself on camera. This is what causes the fatigue and stress, interestingly affecting women and new starters most. They suggest a resolution would be having features where you can have a meeting without seeing yourself (which is the case in a physical meeting). Apparently ZOOM has a feature where you can hide yourself. We expect the other vendors will follow.
“Screen sharing in particular has to be one of the most useful features to ever exist, and it really doesn’t feel as if it gets the love it deserves.”
If you think about the last time you teamed up on a presentation by exchanging PowerPoint decks by email, you will appreciate why joint editing on a call can be so enticing. Many more examples provided in this article. Think about your physical meetings. Don’t you regularly share content there? So why not online?
This article from Microsoft identifies mistakes people make in trying to share their screens. The first mistake is “not being prepared”, which can mean a poor experience for those you are sharing with. In essence, these mistakes can be avoided through preparation and practice.
Identifies that when you are looking to connect beyond your immediate team, the Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) Platform is the place to go. The ease with which to share knowledge broadly and the role the ESN plays in promulgating a positive workplace culture, are the key arguments put forward.
This article provides a succinct set of the why’s for the ESN e.g. communities of practice, shared interests, Q&A forums. In this remote working period, it emphasises the important role the ESN plays in enterprise-wide employee engagement and amplifying a positive work culture.
This SWOOP publication reports on our 2021 Yammer benchmarking study. Our findings reinforce the increasing importance of the ESN in providing a voice for the employee. We identify the positive sentiment identified with the measured leading well-being communities. We also identify negative sentiment with challenging contexts being effectively addressed, more so than toxic discussions. We report that 50% of communities measured are well placed to exploit radical innovation opportunities, that will likely emerge post the pandemic.
This article identifies why the ESN may be a bad thing: “ESNs can work outside an organisation’s formal processes for collaboration. Because of this they can undermine such processes and make life difficult for the managers charged with managing compliance to them.” It is not surprising that as the ESN is seen as an informal communication mode; it will meet resistance from the formal organization processes, which are articulated here.