How Ditching E-Mail for Social Collaboration Tools Can Improve Productivity

If your team’s primary productivity tool is a computer, those workers aren’t nearly as productive as you might think. As this entertaining infographic from Atlassian points out, today’s worker is being consistently distracted by e-mails, costing businesses an average of $1800 per year for each employee. Perhaps it’s time for a change and it may be that social collaboration tools could pave the path to better productivity.

The average worker checks e-mail an astounding 36 times per hour, taking a full 16 seconds to refocus on the task at hand. Because most workers use e-mail notifications, every time an e-mail comes through, that employee’s attention is being pulled to the latest message that has come through. If that e-mail begs a response, the team member will feel compelled to stop everything to respond.

Many large businesses are discovering a better way. Instead of firing 600 e-mails back and forth over the course of a project, companies are discovering social collaboration tools, which allow team members to upload documents, post status update, and attach notes that can be read by designated team members. But these days, social collaboration isn’t only for large corporations. Small businesses are learning the power of using social collaboration to manage products involving team members and even clients.

ECOM Engineering, a small engineering firm employing only 26, recently learned the time-saving power of social collaboration. The company was juggling more than 700 projects at one time, with internal e-mails spiraling out of control. Rana Blair, one of Kona’s principals, was having difficulty keeping up with communication between teams, since so much was being handled through e-mail.

The company switched to Kona, an online social collaboration tool. The software is Cloud-based, so it can be accessed from anywhere, even through mobile devices, which helps team members update project details even while on the road.

“It was obvious that it was built to get me, my people, and my projects together,” Blair says. “Using Kona really focuses on the project at hand and allows us to think about who we need in the space, how we need to communicate, and how do we get things done.”

According to a report, 75 percent of businesses say online collaboration will be important or somewhat important in the coming months. These collaboration tools can act as an electronic bulletin board, where participants regularly post updates for everyone else to read. Only, instead of a bulletin board attached to a wall in your office, this bulletin board is available 24 hours a day, wherever you are.

Kona is also great for organizing your own thoughts. Users can set up a “personal space” to post information visible to only them. This information can then be transferred to the public area to share with the team, if the user chooses. Tasks can be moved around and organized, then assigned to a team member for action. You can add additional team members as more people join your project to keep everyone communicating to make the project go more smoothly.

Online collaboration is a trend that’s here to stay. While there are plenty of tools available, it’s important to find one that works best for your business’s needs. Many of these sites offer free trials, so you can try them out before inviting the rest of the team to join you.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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