While some form of social and peer learning have always been a part of organizational learning, technology has made virtual collaborations possible in more efficient ways to make sure that employees from global offices all over the world can collaborate more closely and learn from each other. According to a research, the pace of collaboration software development and innovation is very high and it is found that more than half of all companies have already implemented team collaboration solutions of one kind or another. Another thirty-one percent plan to adopt one of the many available collaboration tools in the next two years.
But it is also true that while many organisations have been full-heartedly adopting social or collaborative tools, these solutions work best when all members of a team use them. In most organisations, there is an evident struggle to get all employees interested in utilizing the tools to their fullest capabilities. There are many reasons for it:
Lack of value:
A top reason for the lack of enthusiasm for social tools is that a lot of these tools do not demonstrate the true value and thus employees deem them vital for carrying out their work. For instance most employees need word documents or spreadsheet program to carry on their day-today work. In the same manner they do not need access to collaboration software to get their jobs done. Though the new crop of employees are of the generation that has grown up with technology adoption and are open to newer tools, most employees still need a compelling reason to take up a new tool. Otherwise, majority of the employees will simply not bother.
The quintessential question of ‘what’s in it for me?’ has to be clearly stated and demonstrated. If this is not articulated clearly then most employees fail to see the benefit of making an effort to adopt a new tool. So no matter how many wonderful features these tools have, L&D managers have to demonstrate the value of the social tool to ensure an organization-wide adoption and full utilization.
Poor user interface:
Most users do not take new software on its face value but it is true that the user interface of collaboration software is probably the most important factor that influences user adoption. This focus on appearance may seem frivolous but if it does not look good, the software will fail to make an impact and persuade them to change their behaviour. Many employees are more comfortable with existing tools like email that they utilize for group collaboration – but within limited boundaries. Even if the collaboration tool has more features and more utility, to change their behaviour and move on to a new tool, they need to be impressed. And visual brilliance and an attractive user interface is the necessary push to achieve behaviour change.
In addition to visual attractive interface, user interface should also be simple and logical in structure. Familiarity with existing tools also helps people migrate to a new tool. If the social tool looks good and has a simple, easy user interface, the chances of achieving a high adoption rate is a surety.
Too many features, too much clutter:
Developers are often too enthusiastic when creating social tools and integrate a multitude of features into the social tools. But the question to ask yourself is: how much do the employees really need? If they will not utilize the video chat feature and are satisfied with audio chat, why include it at all? Many employees may not have cameras at their end and if others are engaging in a video chat, they may feel out of the network. Simple tools with clean and utilitarian features have a huge advantage over other collaboration tools as they are better adopted by all employees – irrespective of their educational or professional backgrounds.
While these problems are real, there are simple solutions that will help organisations get around them. One solution is to train employees better to adopt to new collaboration tools. This will ensure that all features of the tool and utilize them without getting overwhelmed.
If a tool fails to demonstrate utility, many employees will tend to stick with existing tools or select other tools more suited to their needs — often without the knowledge or approval of the IT department.
Finally, organizations should not get over competitive over the levels of adoption of collaboration tools. Even small groups within the workplace who utilize the collaboration tool can together lead to significant benefits for the entire organization. So the learning from it all is to have faith and continue to champion social learning within the corporate sector.
Source and suggested further reading: 3 Reasons Why Collaboration Tools Fail To Make The Intended Impact