We are social animals. And, in 2021, we are digital social animals.
As of August 2021, nearly 80% of workers are using collaboration tools for work — up from just over half of workers in 2019, according to the Gartner, Inc. Digital Worker Experience Survey. This is an increase of 44% since the pandemic began.
Even back in 2013, Deloitte conducted a survey about digital collaboration. “Today, digital collaboration tools are an important way of getting the best out of an organization’s talent. Globalisation has increased the geographical spread of many businesses while the economic downturn has forced teams to cut staff to reduce costs. This combination has dispersed skills and experience beyond the reach of face-to-face communications, at a time when businesses need more than ever to bring their best minds together. A senior executive we interviewed put it starkly: ‘If we don’t harness the power of our global team, we won’t get anywhere.’”
They found in the same survey that workers are 17% more satisfied with their workplace culture when they had access to effective digital collaboration tools. (To read more about the best communication tools for remote teams, check out this blog post.)
Also, there are some apps that are bringing new meaning to digital collaboration — we’ll keep these in mind as we discuss the three main benefits...
3 Amazing Benefits of Digital Collaboration
In the past two years, a number of different industries have evolved, or even emerged, that help improve digital collaboration.
“Unlike email, chat, videoconferencing, and data repositories — channels through which people communicate — digital collaboration tools are platforms upon which employees use various channels to interact, watch others interact, and gain a deeper understanding of where knowledge lies. [...] Such tools are designed to help people work together and learn from one another by creating threads of conversation and places to exchange information.”
Let’s jump in to go over the benefits.
1. Improved productivity
While people have had concerns about productivity while remote working, research shows these worries are unnecessary.
A Stanford study found that working from home increased productivity among a group of 16,000 workers by 13% over the course of nine months.
Digital collaboration tools have allowed teams to effectively collaborate. Paul Leonardi writes for MIT Sloan Management Review, “Working effectively with one’s regular collaborators requires a teamwork platform that allows employees to engage in persistent chat about tasks and goals, to look at or work on documents simultaneously, and to tap colleagues’ knowledge and resources when problems arise. Such platforms — which include task management tools as well as social enterprise tools — help people follow the streams of action on their teams and leverage networks across projects.”
2. Improved quality of communication
Digital collaboration tools can massively improve how well a remote team can communicate.
This is a big one, and we’ll first make a related important point, too: Audio-only communication (instead of with video, as in most videoconferencing) is actually superior. At first, it may seem counterintuitive, but it’s easier for listeners to comprehend emotions when only listening to someone’s voice.
Check out this research from Michael Kraus: “Voice appears to be the most viable channel for emotion perception. There’s an opportunity to boost your listening skills to work more effectively across cultures and demographic characteristics. Understanding other people’s intentions is foundational to success in the global and diverse business environment that characterizes both the present and the future.”
And there’s the perspective of Zoom fatigue, of course. Research also has confirmed those who leave on their cameras during meetings feel more exhausted by the end of the day.
“Digital collaboration tools are a tacit factor in making employees feel valued and happy in their jobs. Employees working in organizations that provided effective collaboration tools were 22% more likely to believe that their organisation cared about their morale,” finds Deloitte.
It makes sense. Other research shows that digital collaboration tools can help make expertise visible, too. “We typically see the outputs of others’ work — models, prototypes, reports — but not all the thinking and decision-making that went into producing those outputs. Digital collaboration tools not only provide a space for employees to work together but also make that work and its history visible to other people within the company.” Another great example of something that would help improve morale.
If you haven’t heard of proximity chats, they’re one of the aforementioned newer platforms that could be considered digital collaboration tools bringing people together, especially in these past two years during the pandemic. They allow you to mingle naturally during, for example, a company happy hour or virtual gathering, moving fluidly between groups chatting. (And in some of the platforms, audio is properly spatialized, meaning it more accurately mimics a real-life gathering.)
And there you have it: While there are many benefits of digital collaboration, audio is a huge component to consider for your app. And if you're building a native app (like the social audio app, Clubhouse), you can actually easily integrate spatial audio now. Learn more here about immersive audio via the Local Spatializer.