Companies wanting to encourage staff to use the internal collaborative platforms they’ve set up need first to show how they can benefit on an individual basis. Management should also lead by example and demonstrate best practice.

To Popularise Collaborative Work, Companies Should Stress the Advantages for the Individual

Interview with Miguel Membrado, Social Media & collaborative working expert, founder and CEO of Kimind, a consultancy specialising in Enterprise 2.0 strategies.

L'Atelier: Companies that integrate collaborative tools into their processes are said to see a laudable impact on performance. But are staff really using these tools?

Miguel Membrado:Yes, but not as much as they should. From a cultural point of view, companies are hierarchical structures and habits are hard to change. Of course, these new collaborative ways of working are highly beneficial. But a company also needs to demonstrate to each individual what s/he can get out of the tools in order to motivate its people to use them. Basically companies have to rely on individual motivation to get these technologies adopted and so they need to stress that these tools and habits are useful for the individual, can make him or her more efficient and place him or her in high regard among colleagues. In addition, s/he benefits from more autonomy, gains a feeling of freedom. Using these tools, staff can change their ways of working, especially the ability to work outside the office using cloud computing technology. They gain room for manoeuvre in the way they work. These are the advantages that will encourage staff to take the new tools on board.

L'Atelier: What role does management play in the implementation of these new technologies?

It’s important to realise that these working methods only bear fruit if the organisation incorporates the habits into work processes and gives its staff the tools they need. Senior management involvement is one of the keys to success. If collaborative habits come from the top, with management leading by example, it’ll be much easier to inculcate these practices throughout the organisation. For example, the top management of one automobile group, on its own initiative, used a Google doc to compile reports on 150 of its dealers. Instead of requiring a week, the data consolidation process took one day. When a company gives a team the opportunity to use the new tools and organise their own collaboration on a given project, it can then analyse what has been achieved. These achievements can then be disseminated as good practice and will help staff to see the advantages.

L'Atelier: But does the company then still retain some room for manoeuvre?

The company must be able to take action to integrate these habits into its processes - and in such a way that, if staff don’t use the tools provided, IT management can prevent people using other tools. Another way to go is to look at how individual staff use the tools and integrate these habits into company processes. The key issue is how to integrate all these tools into the company’s actual business processes. Clearly the new technologies must improve company productivity and performance if they are to be seen to be useful. But that will take time - 12 to 18 months of quite gentle change management as staff take on board these new ways of doing things at their own pace.