Employee Collaboration, why technology is not enough

With the forced closing of office buildings, many organizations are rapidly adopting digital collaboration tools to facilitate remote working. Tools such as Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams are facilitating the everyday business through online meetings, desktop sharing, and video conferencing.

However, when it comes to being agile and acting upon emerging consumer needs, one might need to take things one step further. Whilst many tools facilitate the inter-employee communication streams, a real collaboration dimension is often lacking.

Being agile by acting upon research insights requires a strong digital backbone, in combination with human engagement.

Employee Collaboration in times of crisis

Insight Activation Studio: the digital backbone

Does an overloaded inbox sound familiar? Or losing the connection with the VPN or server? Or simply the struggle to instantly share relevant information across teams? Apart from these typical ‘working-apart-together’ struggles, many research users experience the need to collaborate more efficiently around consumer research. Amid all this office digitization, perhaps the time has also come to kill extensive and long-winded reports, and bring in consumer inspiration in a bite-size format.

This is exactly the idea behind our proprietary Insight Activation Studio: making research output digestible and easy to read.

The Insight Activation Studio, a consumer insight collaboration hub

This collaboration hub connects internal stakeholders with consumer observations and insights, allowing them to learn faster and collaborate around opportunity areas. One could consider it the Pinterest of research, consisting of Walls and Tiles full of research observations and insights. Over the course of a research project, the Studio grows organically, into a library which combines existing knowledge with novel, fresh insights, and helps discover the bigger picture across research efforts. In line with expectations during such unprecedented times, the Studio is device-agnostic, so stakeholders within the organization can interact 24/7 from any location. Being such a versatile tool, the Studio can be used as stand-alone or incorporated in a workshop setting.

Digital workshops: human engagement

Workshopping is a powerful tool to create business impact by tapping into the group’s energy and creativity. Bringing stakeholders together to discuss and share ideas allows for focused and efficient decision-making, while at the same time ensuring everyone feels consulted. But how can this be replicated online? The answer is simple: it can’t. The time is now to adopt a new, different – and in some ways even better – collaborative work experience. As experts in transitioning entire research projects from offline to online, we formulated five take-aways to make a digital workshop a great experience:

  • Chunk it: mix live and asynchronous tasks
  • Mix it: combine small break-out sessions with individual tasks and plenary time
  • Short ‘n’ sweet: avoid distraction via short activities, focusing on a single topic
  • Step back: allow participants to complete exercises in their own time
  • Chill out: include regular minibreaks to stretch the legs, get a drink, sort the kids, check work emails

During these workshops, tools such as Microsoft Teams can serve as a communication platform for in-the-moment iterations, while the Insight Activation Studio is used to engage upfront, to inspire during the workshop, and to activate learnings as an afterlife.

The current rapid shift towards digital is offering unique opportunities to create a new and different collaboration experience. However, a digital component alone is not enough, and should always be fueled by strong human engagement. It’s a matter of smartly combining technology and people for rapid retaliation on changing consumer needs.

Curious for more? Re-watch the full recording of our LIVE ‘Employee Collaboration in times of crisis’ Virtual Event, where future-research expert Tom De Ruyck presented our employee collaboration approach together with innovation expert, Filip De Boeck.

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