A guy I know kick-starts a conversation by inviting people to name their least favorite Beatles song. It works.
But if you really want to heat up discussion among a bunch of knowledge workers, all you have to do is ask:
What’s your favorite workplace collaboration tool?
Nothing invites dissent, disagreement and impassioned debate like an offer to discuss how we can all get along better at work.
We’re All Team Players Now
Technology has opened the door to a work anywhere, anytime culture. But our abilities to work independently have conversely increased the need for collaboration solutions. Fewer of us today spend every day of the workweek in the same room with our colleagues, where serendipitous conversation and questions unified the workplace.
Now we work in an era of virtual teams, with members geographically dispersed, distributed across time zones and working remotely at least part of the time.
We have to plan for serendipity — and recognize collaboration has replaced it as the glue that holds workplaces together.
Teamwork Isn’t Child’s Play
Teamwork questions are arguably the most common of all of behavioral pre-employment interview questions. One company I know actually asks applicants whether they played a team sport in high school. It considers it a negative if they say “no.”
Hmmm. Is it punitive to discriminate against someone who lacked the physical or financial means to play a sport? Is there any valid reason to hire soccer players over long distance runners?
Legalities about such questions aside, the question nonetheless demonstrates the value we now place on teamwork.
But as anyone who has ever played a group sport can attest, teamwork takes work. You need to know how to play together or the whole thing is just one frustrating mess. And that brings us back to collaboration tools.
Enterprise Collaboration Is Exciting Again
Dion Hinchcliffe, chief strategy officer at the online community strategy and solutions firm 7Summits, is a collaboration expert. In a recent article on ZDNetDion, he enthusiastically discussed “why enterprise collaboration is exciting again.”
“After years of incremental progress, the enterprise collaboration industry is currently seeing a burst of innovation that’s led to several new approaches that have real potential to become digital workplace breakthroughs.”
Vendors are fueled by the success of Slack, which gained more than 1.25 million paid users since launching in 2013. Vendors are developing collaborative capabilities with potential to deliver effective differentiation when it comes to driving results in the digital workplace, he said.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to select the right collaboration tool for your business. He added:
“Sober practitioners understand that there’s simply no one magic bullet or approach today to deal with collaborative proliferation other than the hard day-to-day detective work required to a) reduce fragmentation in apps, channels, search/discovery, and engagement, b) be inclusive of additional solutions when it’s truly in the best interest of the business, and c) making sure the whole portfolio is genuinely leading to increased organizational value.”