Change has been constant for media organizations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They’ve witnessed traditional advertising revenues decline but subscriptions ramp up, offering new opportunities for growth. Newsrooms are in an ongoing battle against unprecedented misinformation, and, in response, some publishers are noticing increased demand for quality journalism.
The most dramatic change, though, may have occurred within the workplace itself.
When the pandemic emerged, teams around the world suddenly found themselves working from home. Just to get their jobs done, they had to rely on collaborative tools more than ever before.
Put simply, a collaborative tool is an app, software program, or platform that connects users so they can work together from anywhere that has an internet connection. Popular examples include Slack for workplace messaging and Trello for project management.
As a result of their increased use, these products have proliferated. During the first eight months of 2020, tech companies released or improved at least 100 digital remote collaboration products, compared to just 24 in the quarter preceding the pandemic, according to a Deloitte research article.
Although more countries are embracing a return to normal after two years, it’s becoming clear that for many workplaces, the need for effective digital collaborative tools isn’t fading with the pandemic—it’s growing.
Why are collaborative tools taking on a bigger role?
Stay-at-home orders may seem like a (somewhat) distant memory. You might be able to board a plane without a mask or head to a favorite restaurant without proof of vaccination. However, some routines formed earlier in the pandemic don’t appear to be going anywhere.
Only 34% of knowledge workers are back to working in the office full-time, five days a week, according to the Spring 2022 Future Forum Pulse survey. Hybrid arrangements, with time split between home and the office, represent the largest share at 45%, while the remaining 21% of workers are still fully remote.
Here are three reasons those Future Forum numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise:
- More productive at home: Contrary to concerns that remote work would reduce productivity, some research suggests the opposite is true. Knowledge workers have in fact proven to be more productive from home, according to a Harvard Business Review study.
- Hiring trends: Many media organizations have made staffing commitments that will require the ongoing use—and improvement of—collaborative tools. The possibility of hiring full-time remote workers, which may have been unthinkable for some organizations pre-pandemic, is now viewed as a potential way to tap into a broader talent pool, one not limited by geography.
- Lowered communication barriers: With the adoption of collaborative tech during the pandemic, some publishers have seen existing communication barriers break down. “When participants are all the same squares on a digital video platform, those old hierarchies—who sits at the top of the table or next to whom—are suddenly less visible and less imposing,” says Jane Barrett, Global Editor for Media News Strategy at Reuters.
Clearly, there are strong incentives to keep teams connected post-pandemic as flexible work arrangements become part of a new normal, and the benefits of digital collaboration are becoming more apparent.
How the role of collaborative tools is changing
As team members more frequently work together from different cities or with rotating in-office schedules, companies can no longer view collaboration tools as nice-to-haves.
Collaborative tools need to function as hubs for disparate yet interconnected teams. For these increasingly popular technologies to successfully take on a centralized role, they need to have the following three capabilities:
- Extensive real-time features: These foster collaboration, and more and more companies appear to appreciate the importance of working together on the fly. 92% of Google Workspace users and 78% of Microsoft 365 users agree real-time collaboration is the norm for their teams, according to a study by management consultancy Quadrant Strategies.
Note that real-time teamwork is much more than collaborative editing in Google Docs or chatting on Slack—it’s the ability to access and share the latest data, track projects, generate reports, and more.
- Easy integration: Tech for collaboration shouldn’t preserve existing silos or create new ones. If a tool is easy to integrate into a wide variety of workflows, it’s better able to bring together different teams across an organization.
Software as a Service—or SaaS, for short—options are known for relatively hassle-free implementation. They continue to gain popularity (at least in part) because of this easy integration, especially compared to expensive custom-built solutions, suggests Human Resource Executive, a magazine focused on strategic issues in HR.
- Automation: Digital collaboration tools aren’t there to simply mirror in-office procedures virtually. With automation, collaborative tech speeds up traditionally manual processes.
For instance, media companies using Lineup’s Adpoint OMS can establish pre-defined rules for automatic order approvals (that’s just one of the ways that Adpoint can boost online collaboration).
If your collaborative tech isn’t meeting expectations, re-examine it
Media companies need to ensure that they aren’t letting tech get in the way of collaboration. Chances are, they already have some collaborative tools in place—but that doesn’t mean they’re up to the required tasks.
For publishers who are re-examining their existing tools for real-time capabilities, automation features, and potential for organization-wide integration, the investment pays off.
For one, smoother collaboration leads to fewer frustrations. Meanwhile, resources won’t be so tied up with admin. Then there’s team morale: “Even workers’ perception that they are working collectively, according to a 2014 study, can enhance their performance,” according to a Deloitte research article.
If the mere perception of collaboration helps, just imagine how drastically a team’s output can improve when they have the most effective collaborative tools at hand
These tools are only going to play a bigger role in the future, and by embracing digital collaboration today publishers can sidestep further disruption later.