Not so long ago, the workplace consisted of colleagues you worked tightly with, usually from your own department. You saw them face-to-face, you spoke with them in person most days, and phone calls were about as distributed as things got.
Technology advancements have enabled face-to-face communication to be replaced, first through email, then increasing internet speeds, the rise of smart devices, and a plethora of new communication mediums, including instant messenger, video calls, and in-app notifications.
When you combine these advancements with globalization and the impact on work that is having with regard to remote workers, distributed teams, and geographically expanding markets, the workplace of today is a very different thing from what it was.
For all the advantages this has brought to businesses – and there are many – new communication complexities have also been created.
How can workers collaborate effectively across different time zones? How can you know nothing is falling through the cracks? How do you ensure the most critical knowledge is seen by those who matter? How can meaningful work get done among a constant stream of notifications and digital distractions?
To solve these challenges, a new form of technology has emerged: workstream collaboration.
Workstream collaboration defined
According to Gartner, workstream collaboration is a market of products used to organize, coordinate, and execute on projects or processes where a high level of teamwork is needed to deliver effective results. To accomplish these goals, a conversation-centric, collaborative environment is provided to enable high levels of individual and group performance.
With common capabilities such as group chat, workspaces, direct messaging, file sharing, search and discovery, external stakeholder interaction, and plug-ins, workstream collaboration tools improve team coordination, performance, communications, and productivity.
At the center of all of this – and one of the key differences compared to other products – is that workstream collaboration vendors understand the importance of team conversations occurring in the context of the work itself. Collaboration is focussed around specific topics, projects, or other work activities.
And, it’s an extremely fast-growing category. Gartner also predicts the workstream collaboration market will be worth almost $5 billion by 2021.
Why your business needs a workstream collaboration tool
As companies expand, flexible working arrangements gain more steam, globalization continues, and teams become even more distributed. Effective internal collaboration becomes more critical, yet elusive, than ever, while that need for effective collaboration extends across colleagues, teams, departments, and locations.
The rise of software as a service products has had a downside for businesses and their employees that only now is starting to be recognized. Your staff need to constantly jump between apps to find what they need, facing constant distractions and notifications, all while they attempt to get their work done.
Items are slipping through the cracks, blocks of meaningful and deep work are becoming almost impossible to find, and a serious loss of staff productivity is being felt by many. Most crucial of all and something that everyone wants, from the business owner to the most junior staff member, has become something of a pipe dream: peace of mind.
A well chosen workstream collaboration tool is your team’s answer to this. It can alleviate the siloed and fractured work experience by creating a central place for all employees, across multiple workstreams, to collaborate in the context of the work that needs to be done.
Executives should pursue the greater gains that can come by embedding collaboration into specific processes, using new technologies provided by this type of tool to enable collaborative behavior. Many are already doing so, with 73 percent of companies experimenting with collaboration tools to improve performance.
The way most teams are working is suited to a world that no longer exists. Workstream collaboration tools that are built for today’s environment are the remedy to this.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Karbon.