The Collaboration Chasm

Sei Mani insight

The Collaboration Chasm by James Porter, 5th December 2017

The work-life ‘disconnect’ between businesses and their people.

Every opinion piece, blog post, and employee request adds to a tsunami of noise coming at IT teams who are battling to meet the digital needs of a demanding workforce.

We’re in a ‘Collaboration Technology Arms Race’ where incumbents are trying desperately to hang on to business, and agile start-ups are trying to eat their lunch.

Having viable options is a great thing, but it delays decisions, and nothing moves quickly in an Enterprise (other than Board members leaving the AGM).

As a consequence, employees are often left to their own devices, struggling on with the same collaboration tools they didn’t really know they had in the first place.

The Dinosaur impact
Cynics might say that project delays are deliberate, a convenient ruse by seniors to protect budgets, borne out of a distrust of flexible working, and a belief that if they can’t see you, they can’t manage you. Those universally unpopular leaders who stifle the very progress they’re paid to enable, and who cost the enterprise dearly in the long run.

Although the flexible working case is proven, too many believe that it’s just shirking from home. The dinosaurs conveniently ignore improvements in productivity, morale, and work-life balance – as well as the lowering of operating costs.

One thing though is very clear, our future lies in the hands of the millennials. They want and need to collaborate, and it seems they’ll make sure it happens.

Risk losing your talent
A recent article in the Telegraph featured research from flexible working experts Timewise, who found that millennials are leading the pack when it comes to new ways of working. 73% of millennials in full-time employment work flexibly. And of the 37% who don’t, 64% would like to.

The research also showed that 72% of those aged over 55 either currently work flexibly, would like to work flexibly or would prefer to work part-time. Astonishingly, only 1 in 10 of the quality jobs advertised, offered a flexible working option.

Is it due to all the office construction underway in our towns and cities? A case where people have to occupy the premises to justify the expense and alleviate any ROI embarrassment.

Joint CEO of Timewise, Karen Mattison MBE describes current opinion perfectly: “Today’s workforce not only want it, but they expect it. It’s time for businesses to get smarter and use flexibility as a tool to attract and keep the best people. Those who lag behind in adapting how they hire, will risk losing out on millions of skilled workers.”

It isn’t enough
Also in the report, Lynn Rattigan, COO at EY UK & Ireland, suggests that flexible working isn’t enough: “The working world is being transformed by advances in technology with the rise of the gig economy, and a flexible working policy is no longer enough. Smart companies are already adapting by hiring flexibly, designing roles and working patterns creatively, and using more contingent workers – overall, establishing an agile working workforce and culture fit for the future.”

You probably have it already
And as our own Nicola Band observes: “The collaboration solution that a customer already has is probably the right one for them. It’s just that they don’t realise, and haven’t bothered to invest in it. And it’s highly likely they didn’t implement it properly in the first place.”

Perhaps the answer lies with our emerging talent. Enterprise strategists would be well advised to stand back and take an objective look at their issues, roadblocks, and workforce frustrations.

And armed with that information and some millennial input – they’ll almost certainly find new and simple solutions to age-old problems.

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