It’s time for a better way to communicate at work

A global survey of 1,200 IT decision makers shows that business communication is moving away from traditional mediums and toward collaboration platforms.

Collaboration in the workplace
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Necessity is the mother of invention—and in 2020, necessity drove companies to implement remote work at an average of 43 times faster than they had thought possible, McKinsey research shows.

As the dust settles on this intense workplace shift, hybrid remote/co-located workforces are emerging as the new standard for business. With this way of working, businesses have also found that they need a better way of communicating.

New data from a Wakefield Research study commissioned by Slack shows a clear solution: collaboration platforms. These platforms reduce reliance on email and meetings and replace them with something faster, friendlier, and more flexible.

Collaboration platforms are quickly replacing traditional communication

Prior to the pandemic, Rocket Software operated from a physical workplace. With the switch to remote work, it had to quickly figure out how to collaborate in a digital setting. Slack enabled Rocket to deploy a platform where people could come together and build a sense of community.

“Now that we’ve got these tools in place and we’ve created these new habits, we want to … make [Slack] that central repository for all of the different technology services that we offer to the company,” said Matt Deres, CIO of Rocket Software, on a recent webinar with Slack and CIO.com. “Our expectation is that if and when our offices reopen again, [working onsite] will be optional, not compulsory.”

Rocket Software isn’t alone in its plans for the future. Even though 47% of organizations had not even used a collaboration platform prior to the pandemic, in our survey 78% of IT decision makers (ITDMs) say they will continue to use Slack and/or other collaboration tools even when pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Users find collaboration platforms more effective than email and meetings

It’s challenging to maintain a remote and collaborative workplace if you’re using traditional communication tools. Employees can’t hop over to a coworker’s desk when they have a question—and total reliance on legacy tools like emails and lengthy video meetings creates slowdowns and miscommunications.

Collaboration platforms like Slack work better than traditional communication methods, providing the efficiency necessary for a successful hybrid work model.

  • 40% of their meetings can be replaced with Slack messages, Slack users say
  • Slack users save an estimated 90 minutes per day (7.5 hours a week) using Slack instead of email

With Slack, ABD Insurance was able to help its newly remote teams feel more understood, and it increased their productivity. Instead of exchanging information via private messages and emails, everyone began communicating in searchable, public channels on Slack. The company saw more cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing as a result of this newfound transparency.

Slack conversation Slack

Mock-up of a typical conversation in Slack within ABD Insurance

But even more important for remote and hybrid teams is the ability to forge connections and engage as a company—something nearly impossible via a siloed, formal medium like email.

  • 95% of Slack users prefer to connect with their team over Slack than via a video call
  • 96% of users say Slack helps forge better connections with their superiors than email

The evolution of the workplace necessitates the evolution of communication—in fact, 50% of ITDMs believe email will be replaced as the primary business communications tool by 2024.

Employees and ITDMs are collaborating on communication technology

In a hybrid workplace, communication tools have an outsize impact on employees’ ability to do their jobs.

Employees are starting to step up and advocate for their needs in this area. Fifty-three percent of IT decision makers in our survey say their employees are reaching out with requests or suggestions for workplace apps or software.

“The name of the game here is making our employees productive and innovative. In my estimation, you really need employee input in order to do that,” says Cindy Taibi, CIO at The New York Times.

But many employees aren’t heard. Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents are frustrated because they’re being left out of the conversation when their company selects software—especially when it comes to collaboration platforms. Sixty-nine percent of companies report that getting rid of their collaboration platform would result in a major backlash from employees.

"If you want to recruit and retain top people, they have to want to work for you and part of that is—they have to like the tools that you give them to do their jobs," Taibi added.

To keep their workforce productive and happy, companies—particularly hybrid companies—need to start listening to their employees and give them the collaboration tools they prefer.

The workplace is transforming—business communication should too

Traditional communication mediums aren’t enough to support the new hybrid workplace. As workplace norms evolve, companies must adapt their communication to match the pace of change.

The solution is clear: It’s time to embrace collaboration platforms.

Read more about the study here.

This survey was commissioned by Slack and conducted by Wakefield Research between February 9 and 23, 2021, using an email invitation and online survey. It was distributed among 3,000 users, defined as employed professionals using Slack or Microsoft Teams for work, who work at companies of more than 100 employees and that pay for the use of Slack or Teams. The geographic distribution was 500 respondents in each of these areas: U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Australia. We also surveyed 1,200 IT decision makers, defined as employed professionals using Slack or Teams for work who are VPs or above, at companies of more than 100 employees paying for Slack or Teams. For this group, the geographic breakdown was 200 respondents in each of the same areas as above.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.