Workers say technology brings teams together
While detractors have depicted technology as making people more antisocial, a recent Randstad study shows quite the contrary, with nine in 10 Hong Kong employees saying it has led to a greater need for collaboration among colleagues.
Released at the end of last year, Randstad Hong Kong’s Q3 Workmonitor survey sampled 4,050 respondents in the city. The consensus was that technology can empower employees and teams, and boost overall efficiency.
“Social and collaboration tools such as video conferencing, screen sharing, the intranet, online communities and real-time project management programmes make it easier for organisations to bring diverse teams together to share ideas,” says Peter Yu, director of Randstad Hong Kong. These tools raise productivity, cross-pollinate skills and empower employees to collaborate more efficiently.
According to the survey, 73 per cent of employees spend more time collaborating with colleagues than they did five years ago, while four out of five employees believe diverse teams always outperform teams with similar members.
Technology has played a huge role in these numbers, with globalisation also driving organisations and workers to focus more on team time than half a decade ago.
“In this digital age, technology has penetrated both our personal and working lives,” Yu says. “Technology is inevitable in the workplace as we seek better and faster ways to communicate and collaborate with more diverse teams.”
However, Yu acknowledges that greater access to technology leads to an “always on” mentality, which can increase stress levels. “The saturation of smartphones in the workplace has led to a culture of always being contactable, and new collaboration tools will only escalate this as the ways an employee can be contacted rises.”
The implementation of these tools and the learning curve associated with them requires time, effort and capital, but this will be rewarded by greater efficiency and productivity.
“If an organisation uses its intranet to raise employee engagement and effectively lower the company’s turnover rate, the hiring costs saved will be greater than the time invested in educating employees on the changes and ironing out tech issues,” Yu says.
While online and offline collaboration is wholly different, technology plays an irreplaceable role in making closer collaboration possible.
Randstad’s data reveals three out of five employees think they perform better in a team – and technological and social collaboration tools can help this.
“The major benefit of using technology-driven collaboration tools is that it allows cross-border or remote teams to collaborate graphically and in real-time, while saving on costs such as travel expenses,” Yu says.
These tools break the reliance on traditional conference calls and give teams the advantage of visual cues, allowing them to discuss, negotiate and clarify issues more easily.
Rather than regularly flying to a different city for regional team meetings, for example, teams can use free video conferencing tools, cutting travel costs, while saving travel time and increasing productivity.
While these tech tools facilitate teamwork, 81 per cent of employees still believe collaboration works better face to face. “However, today’s workplace demands that teams no longer all work in the same office, or indeed the same country,” Yu says. “Technological tools help connect regional and global teams, and allow organisations to provide more flexible work options, such as the ability to work from home or remotely.”
In today’s increasingly connected world, the influence of these technologies is inescapable, and if implemented correctly these tools can be a boon for all, but change is never easy.
However, Yu warns that successful user adoption requires a well-crafted plan and implementation programme. “The tools by themselves are a small part of helping people to collaborate,” he says. “Without sufficient awareness, education and training, IT support, and a strong example of usage set by management, employers may never unlock the full advantages of these tools and platforms.
“Employees may then end up finding some of these tools more of a hindrance than help.”
It is important for employers to apply strategies to balance the ease of collaboration with the needs of their teams. Employers should also take into account the nature of diverse workforces when implementing measures to enhance collaboration.
“We live in an interesting time with multiple generations working under the same roof, bringing together diverse perspectives, skill sets, work styles, behaviour, motivations and familiarity with technology. It is therefore crucial for business leaders to consider this diversity when introducing new technology to an employee’s workflow,” says Yu.