Monday, December 13, 2010

Chained to the Past: Collaboration and the Distributed Workforce

Some interesting data from a Forrester research study.
Pretty scary that in 2010 the top 2 "collaboration technologies" that businesses are looking to adopt are Email and Email/calendaring for mobile devices. The study was commissioned by Citrix Online, so I suppose they were hoping to see web and video conferencing at the top of the list. Alternatively, one could argue this demonstrates that there is room for growth.
Sadly, in spite of the emergence of social media, web conferencing, and robust collaboration tools, workers are still chained to 20th century standbys - Email, Phone, and Face-to-face. I think people use what they are comfortable with and what has worked in the past - most see abadoning these for "new" technologies as too risky.

Making Collaboration Work for the 21st Century's Distributed Workforce:
Last month we published an infographic on the international language of business based on a study that Citrix Online commissioned from Forrester Consulting. Today we're happy to launch the results of that study. The study yielded surprising findings related to generational and cultural working behaviors that impact how businesses communicate and collaborate in an increasingly dispersed workplace, and the implications for the future competitiveness of SMBs.

Key Findings
The study asked information workers of all ages in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia about their business communication habits. 
Gen Y does not have the monopoly on technology use and social tools during the work day. Meanwhile, the older generation is getting with the program.
  • Gen Y is least likely to share information via text message (26%, compared to 47% of those aged 55+), and least likely to use video conferencing, video chat and web conferencing tools.
  • Gen Y uses social networking the least frequently (40% of Gen Y workers who use social media do so daily, compared to 50% of those aged 55+).
  • Older Boomers (55+) have increased their business use of social media 79% in the past year.
The younger you are, the less you value meetings - and pay attention.
  • Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient. Only 29% of Gen Y workers think meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45% of Older Boomers.
  • Gen Y is least likely to pay attention in meetings and barely half (51%) believe it's very important to do so in meetings to decide a course of action.
Americans have more meetings - and pay more attention.
  • 90% meet in person to communicate and build relationships, more than any other nationality.
  • Of those, 51% meet daily, compared to a mere 31% of French.
  • 75% of Americans believe it's very important to pay attention in meetings to decide on a course of action, compared to 50% of the French.
The in-person meeting is alive and well, but not necessarily effective.
  • 84% of all respondents have in-person meetings, but meetings often don't achieve their goals.
  • Only 45% are very satisfied that planning meetings achieve the task in hand, and only 30% believe such meetings to be very efficient.
  • Across all categories of meetings for designated tasks (e.g. review of documents, plan projects or initiatives, decision on a course of action), less than half of respondents believe those meetings are very efficient.
In an era of multitasking, it's still considered rude in a meeting.
  • 83% believe that side conversations are unacceptable during a meeting, and 77% frown on those doing other work on a computer or smartphone.
We still like to look each other in the eye.
  • Germans like to see others during meetings (75%), while Americans find it less important (55%) though they have the most in-person meetings.
  • 79% of those aged 55 and over think it's important, compared to 65% of Gen Y.
  • Why? To read body language, say 78%.

Usage among users of collaborative technologies is rising fast.
  • 64% of those who use social networking tools in business use them more than last year. Video chat, team document-sharing sites and web conferencing also experienced significant increases in usage, with 56%, 55% and 52% respectively.
If you would like to download a copy of the report, you can find it posted in our Downloads section here.

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