Last week I attended the Google Collaboration Conference in Sydney which was a fantastic experience. The new research from Deloitte ‘The Collaborative Economy’ (“Report”) was the centre point of examination and discussion. The following article details what I believe to be the take-home messages from the conference and how Google products can be used to enhance communication, innovation and productivity through collaboration in your business ultimately increase your bottom line.
Deloitte also has a fantastic free assessment tool that shows you areas of improvement for your business regarding collaboration. Onsite Helper scored 54 which means we are within the top 40% of Australian businesses with collaborative capabilities.
Findings of the Report: overview
Collaboration refers to the process where employees, through sharing and discussing ideas, develop those ideas to produce something new and different. A collaborative organisation unlocks the potential, capacity and knowledge of every employee generating value, innovation and improving productivity in its workplace.
The research by Deloitte ‘The Collaborative Economy’ has found that Australian companies that collaborate are more likely to profit, grow, increase employee satisfaction and create a culture of innovation. The statistics are fascinating. It was found that employees who collaborated worked on average 15% faster, 73% produced better quality work, 60% were more innovative and 56% were more satisfied with their jobs. Businesses with a collaborative strategy are twice as likely to outgrow their competitors and more likely to improve their bottom line.
The most effective drivers of collaborations? Technologies such as video conference and real-time electronic document management.
Major challenges for businesses
- While we have the tools to collaborate, Australian businesses have not tended to embrace it to improve business processes. The report found that there was a slow decline in multifactor productivity growth from since 2007-2008. According to Productivity Commission Chairman, Peter Harris “our performance has been significantly worse than that of most other developed economies for more than a decade”. Just over a third of Australian businesses (36.6%) were innovative in 2012-2013 (compared to 41.3% in the previous year); the rest did not introduce any new or significant improvements to goods, services, operational, organisational, managerial processes or marketing methods.
Further, Australian businesses are being faced with the additional costs of staff turnover. Every year about 11% of employees change their employer and for more than one in five it is because of unsatisfactory working conditions. Employee engagement is important for employee job satisfaction.Business benefits of collaboration
A strong correlation exists between collaboration strategy and business success. In particular, collaboration promotes:
- time-saving and productivity in employees. Over half of employees and managers identified time saved completing tasks as a benefit of collaboration; this is after taking into account time-wasting activities. The time saved is a workaround of $1,660 per employee and manager per year.
- quality of work outputs. This is the simple logic of “two heads are better than one”. For example, if various divisions of a financial services institution collaborate to create a single web portal, it improves the customer experience and generates value. The quality improvements due to collaborations are worth around $2,517 per employee and manager per year.
- innovation and new ideas. This allows for a group of open-minded people to provide quick validation of ideas and help build and accelerate the process of iterative thinking. Around 60% of respondents to the report experienced a change in their way of thinking due to collaboration.
- employee engagement and reduced turnaround. Employees like to collaborate. The 2013 Connected Workplace paper found that satisfied employees collaborated 28% of the working week, compared to 12% for those that were dissatisfied. Research for this paper has found that 56% of respondents said that they were happier when they collaborated.
- growth. Collaboration provides a competitive advantage to businesses to outgrow their competitors by making them more agile, innovative and productive. At least 82% of businesses required middling or important strategy to outgrow the market. Companies that prioritise collaboration are also five times more likely to experience a considerable increase in employment, twice as likely to be profitable, and twice as likely to outgrow competitors.
- profitability. Similar to growth, there is a strong link between the profitability of an organisation and its collaboration strategy. Businesses that consider collaboration an important component of their overall business strategy were 4 times more likely to see growth in their bottom line.
Onsite Helper’s 5 tips to enhance collaboration with Google For Work (Previously known as Google Apps)
The Report clearly emphasises what we already know or suspect when it comes to the benefits of business collaboration. Here are my top 5 tips on how Google For Work can be used to enhance collaboration in your business.
Tip # 1: Replace Microsoft Office with Google Drive.
Google Drive (Google Docs & Sheets) enables you to collaborate easily and securely with staff, external suppliers and customers. Instead of emailing someone a word document or spreadsheet for review, use Google Docs or Sheets to prepare your document. The link to the document can then be sent to collaborators for instant review and feedback. This ensures that everyone is working from the same version of the document which captures all amendments and updates.
Tip # 2: Let the world be your office: be mobile.
Work is not a place you go to but is what you do. With the use of Google for Work on smartphones & tablets, you can access, edit and create all your documents as if you’re in the office. This allows you to collaborate from anywhere at any time, improving efficiency and productivity. Install the Google Drive App which includes all the Google for Work apps accessible on your smartphone or tablet. It is also recommended that Gmail & Google Calendar App be installed to get improved functionality rather than using the default email program on your device.
Tip # 3: Collaborative inbox in Gmail.
Businesses that have generic email addresses such as info@, sales@, and support@ which forward to a number of staff can find it a monstrous task to keep track of correspondence and often leads to double or triple handling of tasks. This is a big waste of time which often leads to confusion by clients or suppliers. To overcome this problem, a collaborative inbox can be created. Click here for more information about email setup.
Tip # 4: Shared Calendars & resource booking.
Sharing calendars and resource bookings can improve collaboration and efficiencies in business. When scheduling a meeting you can see the availability of attendees rather than emailing back and forth to schedule a time. Further, those in a supporting role (such as PA/EA to a principal) will find it convenient to have access to the calendar and appointments of their principal. Calendars can be synced to smartphones and other electronic devices so there an appointment is not missed. Resource booking improves efficiency in the same way as shared calendars. Availability of resources such as meeting rooms can be quickly checked and booked.
Google calendar allows you to attach documents to the calendar invite to allow you to have all relevant meeting materials at hand. This can help collaboration as all attendees have the documents ready and can refer to them prior to, during and post-meeting. Here are some tips on Google Calendars
Tip # 5: Video conferencing with Hangouts.
Google Hangouts are a great collaboration tool allowing you to conduct face to face meetings wherever you are from your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Up to 15 attendees can join the video conference and amendments to documents stored in Drive can be done in real-time.
To take it one step further you can install the Chromebox for meetings as a permanent video conference fixture in your meeting rooms. You can even record your meetings for future private viewing by anyone you grant access to.