Efficient ongoing collaboration has a significant impact on business innovation, performance, culture and even the bottom line. 

So says Google and this time it is not just talking up its array of enterprise productivity and collaboration tools in the Google for Work suite.

This was the finding of original cross-industry research Google decided to conduct to measure workplace collaboration. 

It teamed up with Raconteur for the study and surveyed senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies.

It's an interesting study as some of the conclusions it draws say more about our corporate culture than collaboration. 

Here's one example of that: corporate decision-making processes and workplace culture become less of a driving concern to employees as the company's culture of innovation and collaboration develops. 

Use Google for Work! It's Backed By Science!

Other conclusions the report makes, though, rather pointedly remind you of who exactly is behind the study.

For example, 73 percent of respondents agree that their organization would be more successful if employees were able to work in a more flexible and collaborative way.

'Employees working together more collaboratively in person', 'better communication between teams' and a commitment to 'open innovation' are the factors that respondents would expect to have the most profound effect on the profitability of a company. 

Google thinks this is "an interesting and revealing piece of data".  

Communicating and collaborating in person is the best-case scenario, it states in the next sentence. But sadly, this isn’t always possible.

You know what is? Video conferencing! 

It is "still a significantly underutilized resource compared to the traditional audio conference call," the report said. "Video conferences put people face-to-face, recreating some of those critical benefits of meeting in person."

No Perfect Tool

Later in the study, it noted that on average, survey respondents consider file-sharing tools to be the most effective communication and technology innovations in terms of their capacity to improve individual output and performance, with their mean score a 4.8 out of 7. 

But, as Google went on to point out, no single tool came out head and shoulders above the rest. "This may be because the most effective ways of working tend to leverage a number of tools that are used together." Like a suite of tools residing the cloud, perhaps?

Leaving aside the obvious plugs for its services, the study does quantify what has long been assumed about these technologies and the workforce in general. For example: 

  1. 73 percent of respondents agreed that their organization would be more successful if employees were able to work in more flexible and collaborative ways.
  2. 56 percent of respondents ranked a collaboration-related measure as the top factor in what would have an impact on the organization's overall productivity.
  3. When respondents were asked to think in terms of processes, some 20 percent said that 'planning and decision-making’ would derive most benefit from collaboration. Project management (17 percent), problem-solving and information gathering/research (14 percent each) also featured prominently
  4. Perhaps most startlingly, the survey found that collaboration and employee happiness go hand in hand — 88 percent of respondents who strongly agreed that their company fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration also strongly agreed that employee morale and job satisfaction are high. The most serious threats to organizations in terms of people management are failure to attract enough talent (25 percent), inability to retain the best talent (18 percent), and concerns about a disengaged workforce (14 percent).

What's your experience? Share the successes — and challenges — of workplace collaboration in the comments below.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by dolbinator1000.