Five things you need to know about using digital platforms for collaboration

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Have you created your Elastic Digital Workplace (EDW) yet?


The term was recently coined by Accenture to describe a highly extendable workplace environment that allows leaders to quickly scale and dynamically adapt to changing business needs based on global and local conditions. 

“[All businesses are] identifying how to expand the workplace to the periphery,” it said in a blog. “[This] includes a focus on home networking, broader networking, security, upgrading other tools and capabilities and helping your people learn and embrace new ways of working with each other.”

An essential part of any EDW is access to digital collaboration tools and platforms. The ability to work and network with your colleagues effectively is what will allow your business to survive and thrive.

If you’re starting to think about how to get the most from these technologies, here are some things to know.

1. Digital collaboration tools can improve productivity

A research study by Deloitte found that three-quarters of those surveyed believed access to collaboration tools would improve productivity and can significantly improve productivity levels by as such as 20-25%. It’s not surprising – employees typically spend three hours a day searching for information and/or writing emails, which is something that can be greatly reduced when your business communication is on one secure, online platform.

2. There’s a platform for every need

Whether you’re looking to schedule meetings, brainstorm or store files securely, there’s a suitable platform out there. For example, Box is the business-focused version of Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, offering secure document collaboration centralised in one online location. ProdPad is a project management tool that populates a project roadmap with inspiring input from you, your team and even your customers. And FIO is a time-zone tackler, making it easier to schedule meetings and work collaboratively with a global workforce.

3. It could save your business money

Online collaboration tools can be highly cost-effective, even for small businesses – particularly when you consider the reduced infrastructure needs and lower maintenance costs. Many software packages offer flexible pay-as-you-go licensing, ensuring you only pay for the exact amount of users you need. Even big tech companies are making access more affordable: Microsoft has started offering a free trial of the premium plan for its Teams chat app, while, Cisco is offering the free version of its Webex service with no time restrictions. And because digital collaboration allows employees to work from home or other locations, you can potentially cut the cost of office overheads such as equipment, electricity and space.

4. It requires strong leadership

It’s worth noting that digital collaboration tools require effective management to get the best results. “Mastering the design and management of teams will become an even more critical focus [for leaders],” says Amy C. Edmondson, the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management. “Depending on how long the current state lasts, we may see a shift away from static organisational structures toward dynamic team forms. This only works well under conditions of ‘psychological safety’, when leaders have made it clear that every team member is welcome to speak up with ideas, concerns, and yes, even bad news.” 

5. It’s not going away

Experts predict that digital collaboration tools will continue to have a place for businesses in the future. “Managers should think: How do we survive this time and even get something positive out of this?” says Prithwiraj Choudhury, the Lumry Family Associate Professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. “One of those positives could be the use of all these cool tools that we should be using anyway. As time passes, workers may find that they like the flexibility of not driving every day and might be interested in making their own self-selection to continuously work from home. So, companies should have the right processes and incentives in place to allow for that flexibility.” 


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