The future of work is in collaboration: How collaboration platforms are shaping the way we work


For many people, the initial transition to remote work last year wasn't exactly a bed of roses. The sudden shift to the home office left us all with an uncomfortable mix of stress and isolation, and turned our world upside down.

One of the main causes of these feelings was our slow means of communication, isolated from each other. When we all worked together in an office, we could still make up for the limitations of traditional corporate communication tools with face-to-face interaction. If we needed answers, help, or just wanted to talk, we'd knock on a colleague's door or meet in the lunchroom.

But our old tools no longer suffice for remote work. The new workday requires technologies that promote fast, smooth collaboration even when everyone is no longer in the same building or office. Since hybrid, flexible work models are exactly what employees want for the future, it's high time more companies adopt collaboration platforms.

A survey by Wakefield Research confirms this. The company surveyed thousands of users and IT decision makers who use collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams or SION for work. The survey sought to find out what role collaboration platforms have played over the past year and what trends are shaping the future of these platforms.

The key points at a glance

The data shows a clear trend toward collaboration platforms as the new standard. Platforms are making us less reliant on email and meetings, accelerating business communications and making them more people-centric.

  • Collaboration platforms are increasingly replacing traditional communications. Although nearly half of companies were not using a collaboration platform before the pandemic, 78% of IT decision makers and executives now say they will continue to use SION and/or other solutions when "normal" workday returns.
  • Professionals prefer collaboration platforms to email and meetings. When given a choice, more than one-third of users would rather give up their work emails than SION, Microsoft Teams or other collaboration solutions. In addition, 95% say they prefer the tool over video calls when sharing ideas with their project team.
  • Employees want a say in their company's technical equipment. 37% of users are frustrated because they are not included in the selection of software tools in the company. Involvement would be particularly important in the case of collaboration platforms, as they are, in a sense, the virtual office of a company. For this reason, IT decision makers are now involving employees more in software purchasing decisions.

Collaboration platforms will remain essential in the future

But despite the rapid pace of change, both users and IT decision makers have experienced firsthand the success of the new way of communicating - and the majority of employees and decision makers don't want to return to the old methods.

  • 79% of users say their collaboration platform is very important to their daily work.
  • 78% of IT decision makers say they will continue to use SION, Microsoft Teams or other solutions even if "normal" workflows return after the pandemic.

Traditional communication platforms are becoming increasingly obsolete

While collaboration platforms are becoming more popular, traditional communication methods are becoming less popular.

  • Email is losing its status as the standard corporate communications tool. More than half of IT decision makers believe email will be replaced as the primary communications tool by 2024. And when given a choice, 36% of users would rather give up their work emails than SION, Teams or other collaboration solutions.
  • Meetings are being replaced by asynchronous communication. No more "meetings that would have fit in an email" - users feel that on average 40% of their meetings could be replaced by an asynchronous thread.

Employees prefer collaboration platforms to emails

Emails have been around for nearly 50 years. They are the standard communication tool at work. But they are also the remnant of an outdated hierarchical enterprise model.

The key to a successful hybrid enterprise model is transparency, shared decision-making and collaboration. The closed structure of email separates employees from the information they need, as well as from each other.

While Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, has said he doesn't see "any benefits to completely replacing email," collaboration platforms seem to beat email not only in terms of productivity, but also in fostering a healthy company culture and preventing feelings of isolation.

Collaboration platforms save employees time

According to studies, email takes up more than 3 hours a day (in other words, about 37% of a typical knowledge worker's week) - no wonder, since you have to keep an eye on your inbox, filter junk mail, scroll through long "reply to all" threads, and send messages back and forth before you can make a decision.

With collaboration platforms, both individuals and cross-departmental project teams can tackle projects and problems quickly without having to give up related context or lose track of what's going on. This increases productivity tremendously.

Studies have shown that users save an average of 90 minutes a day when they use collaboration platforms instead of email. That's a total of 7.5 hours a week, which means users are saving nearly a full day each week.

Collaboration platforms encourage face-to-face contact

But a productive hybrid office requires more than efficiency. Employees also need to stay in touch with each other to stay motivated. The biggest challenges of remote-work networking are:

  • Maintaining and building working relationships with colleagues.
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation

Email is essentially a formal medium that makes it difficult to build interpersonal connections with colleagues in the home office. Being limited to one-on-one conversations can exacerbate feelings of isolation by limiting visibility and preventing employees from interacting with the entire company.

Collaboration platforms connect people because they are provided not only a collaboration tool, but also a virtual office. Conversations don't have to be formal. 80% of users say they would rather send a GIF in a channel on a collaboration platform than in a group email.

The more informal setting makes them feel more comfortable interacting with others more quickly, rather than with impersonal usernames. Informal channels foster a company culture that focuses on people. In fact, 95% of users use team-building channels with their colleagues.

Collaboration platforms break through communication barriers

The formality of email is a major barrier to casual conversations that are essential to building and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Even reaching out to a manager can be difficult for employees whose interactions are limited to emails and occasional meetings - let alone building a personal relationship.

Collaboration platforms make it easier for employees to communicate with decision makers and executives - both inside and outside the organization.

A company's choice of collaboration platform is heavily influenced by its employees

When it comes to communication tools, the stakes are even higher. In a hybrid work environment, your collaboration software is, in a sense, the new office building.

And just as you wouldn't turn a new office building into a maze, you don't want a platform that is unintuitive to users and frustrates them. So it's not surprising that IT decision-makers are giving their employees more say in choosing a collaboration platform such as SION. Here's what we found in our survey, 41% of IT decision makers say employee endorsement was a contributing factor in their decision to choose Slack.

Collaboration will be essential in the future

The rapid rise of remote work has led us to rethink how we communicate at work. Nearly 80% of users now say their collaboration platform is very important - despite the fact that 47% of companies hadn't even used one by March 2020.

The hybrid work model may feel like an immense challenge. However, with tools like SION, it's possible to build the collaboration platform your business needs to succeed.
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