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While companies have been quick to pivot to a distributed workforce model, many employees are feeling unclear about their responsibilities. That’s sparked a significant surge in collaboration tools. Here are the facts, figures and few best practices from eMarketer’s Jillian Ryan.

The coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to move to a distributed employee model very abruptly. The transition to remote work at scale this year has upended the entire employee experience.

Several months into remote working, many companies are still grappling with how to transform their processes and lines of communication to ensure that employees are connected when it comes to the necessary work streams and projects. Leaders have realized that collaborative workflows must be reassessed at every level of the company.

Moreover, not all employees have an understanding of their priorities. Nearly half of senior marketers worldwide said the biggest challenge to their distributed marketing team was shifting team priorities and objectives and communicating that information, according to April 2020 research from NewsCred.

A further 51.2% of US workers polled said they had a crystal-clear understanding of what was expected of them while working remotely, according to Wrike research conducted by SurveyMonkey in July 2020. But the remainder of respondents indicated they needed more clarity on their roles: 33.2% reported feeling that expectations had not been formalized, 11.3% said they were only accountable for their own productivity, and 4.4% said they didn’t have any set standards for remote work.eMarketer 1

Bringing on more tools for transparency

When it comes to ensuring transparent internal communication, companies have increasingly turned to collaboration tools in recent years. In fact, under the current distributed working conditions, there has been a surge in adoption.

eMarketer’s October 2020 forecast projects that 69.0% of US companies with over 100 employees will use communication and collaboration tools this year. That’s an increase of 15 percentage points from 2019, when 54.0% of such companies utilized these tools.

Although the use of these tools is becoming ubiquitous, companies shouldn’t adopt a new collaboration tool with the notion that it will solve all the headaches of remote work. Tools alone get a company only so far – there must be a strategy in place for successful implementation and continued use.

Some important considerations are:

  • Be clear on what problem the tool will solve or what process(es) it will replace or augment.

  • Do the due diligence to see how new software will work within the overall communication tech stack.

  • Create internal documentation to support the use of the tool internally.

  • Make plans for ongoing training and enablement to ensure all employees understand how to utilize the tools with efficiency.

Collaboration and communication tools have become central internal channels that businesses are using to share information and set clear expectations with their employees. We expect this trend to continue even in a post-vaccine world when companies return to an office environment. This period of remote work will have lasting implication on the modern workforce and its transformed for years to come.

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Jillian Ryan is eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. To learn more about her report about how companies are implementing new collaboration tools and best practices, here is the full report: “The Sustainability of Distributed Work Models: How People and Processes Have Transformed to Accommodate Remote Teams.”