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Collaborate Smarter, Not Harder

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  • Through analytics, companies can reduce overload, attrition, and other costs of collaboration — and increase its rewards.

Source | sloanreview.mit.edu

No question, in a competitive global landscape, collaboration allows companies to serve exacting clients more seamlessly, respond more quickly to changing environments, and innovate more rapidly. But when an organization tries to boost collaboration by adopting a new formal structure, technology, or way of working, it often adds a steady stream of time- and energy-consuming interactions to an already relentless workload, diminishing instead of improving performance.

Think about the consequences at an individual level: It’s not unusual to feel as if we are just starting our work at 5 p.m., after the daily battery of demands has finally quieted down. Thanks to the plethora of technologies that keep us connected, increasingly integrated global operations, and the need for a multidisciplinary approach to deploying complex products and services, the problem has snowballed over the past decade, with collaborative time demands rising more than 50%. Most knowledge workers and leaders spend 85% or more of their time on email, in meetings, and on the phone.1 Employees struggle with increases in email volume, the proliferation of new collaborative tools, and expectations of fast replies to messages — with deleterious effects on their quality of work and efficiency. Research tells us that simple distractions like checking a text message fragments our attention more than we realize, and more consuming distractions — such as answering an email — can cost us more than 20 minutes to fully regain our focus.

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sloanreview.mit.edu
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