Businessman Collaboration Image by Gerd Altmann from PixabayAsana has published its fourth annual Anatomy of Work Global Index. The report highlights the importance of collaboration, yet it also raises concerns that not all collaboration is good.

There is no doubt that collaboration can have a positive impact.

  • At collaborative organisations, 55% of workers reported revenue growth over the past three years, compared to 28%, where there is weak collaboration.
  • 92% of workers at collaborative organizations say their work has value — versus just 50% at those organizations with weak collaboration.
  • 79% of workers at collaborative organizations say they feel well-prepared to respond to challenges, and only 20% do so at organizations with weak collaboration.

While the benefits of collaboration are there, the report also raised concerns about inefficiencies. Organisations continue to waste time on “work about work”. Meetings are a prime example, a means to collaborate, but for many, they waste time.

Knowledge workers believe they waste 2.8 hours weekly on unnecessary meetings, which rises to 3.6 hours for leaders. The amount wasted is higher than last year’s report. It raises the question about best meeting practices, which Enterprise Times covered in a series of tips. The authors also highlight the case for smarter collaboration.

Audio, video and in-person meetings are up

It appears as though more time is being spent on audio, video, and in-person meetings than a year ago. That the latter has increased is no surprise. However, 32% of workers spend more time on video calls, and 22% spend more on audio calls than last year. The time spent on work about work is therefore increasing, reducing efficiency in organisations. 58% of the time is spent on work coordination rather than productive work.

Anne Raimondi, Chief Operating Officer, Asana
Anne Raimondi, chief operating officer, Asana

Anne Raimondi, chief operating officer at Asana, commented, “Current economic uncertainty requires enterprises to re-imagine how teams collaborate to drive greater efficiency and growth. Leaders have an out-sized impact on creating smarter, more productive, ways for their teams to collaborate.

“Instead of adding meetings and apps to already overloaded employees, they can chose to innovate and create intentional, asynchronous modes of collaboration and innovation–making the most of their employees time and talent and delivering better results for their customers.”

The report has a whole host of findings that are worth further exploration.

The report

The Anatomy of Work Global Index is based on a survey of nearly 9,615 knowledge workers from the United States, the UK, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan. The survey was conducted by GlobalWebIndex (GWI) on behalf of Asana. The report is 45 pages and has an introduction which includes some key findings, four main sections and a conclusion.

The remaining two sections include details of Asana and the survey methodology, including a definition of cross-functional collaboration (XFN collaboration) and some variances by country.

The report includes a mix of analysis, with observations from Carson Tate, founder and managing partner at Working Simply, a business consulting firm and sections from leading academics. Each section also has customer quotes that illustrate the points. For the report’s length, there is not a huge amount of information, with much of the space used up in the design, images and data graphics, which are enlightening.

Reading through the content, however, allows the reader to consider their own approaches and questions they need to ask. It closed with five actions leaders can take to turn data into action and improve processes.

Work together, earn together

This first section highlights the importance of collaboration noted above. It looks at which teams collaborate best within organisations. Marketing comes top with 50% having strong collaboration, though IT and non-profit are close behind with 48%. The report does not detail which functions are the poorest at collaborating.

The authors look at XFN Collaboration, noting that 79% with strong collaboration were well prepared to adapt to change. With flexibility a key value for organisations in a turbulent economy, it further demonstrates the importance of effective collaboration. Poor collaboration can also cause employee churn.

Finally, collaboration is not important without goals, which can bring focus to meetings and collaboration. 89% of strong XFN collaborators have clear objectives compared to around 34% of weak collaborators.

The ripple effect of clear goals

Diving deeper into the importance of goals, the survey identified that 87% of workers who had individual and corporate goals linked believe their company is well prepared to meet customer expectations. However, there are challenges with this approach, especially in enterprise organisations such as:

  • Building a good working environment – 41%
  • Effective use of Technology – 37%
  • Alignment across teams in the company – 41%

Maintaining velocity in a volatile world

XFN Collaboration is not a complete solution; it has drawbacks. 41% of strong XFN collaborators feel that it can delay decisions. 35% of weak collaborators feel the same. Leadership is, therefore, critical. Professor Nick Bloom of Stanford University economics advocates data-driven decision-making. However, he caveats that with the requirement for leaders to consider scenario planning for future environmental changes.

The report highlights that rapid decision-making becomes harder as organisations grow, especially those working in cross-functional collaboration environments. While an interview with Howard University School of Business Dean, Anthony Wilbon, PhD, gives readers advice on how to improve, the report does not dive into the reasons behind this. However, it would be a book if it did!

The case for smart collaboration

The authors make a case for smart collaboration. The report moves to this point well, indicating that collaboration without goals and efficiency is not a recipe for success. It argues, as do other reports, that organisations have to make collaboration, and messaging tools, often not linked to task management.

Organisations should consolidate the 8.8 average apps that workers use daily. This would save considerable time for knowledge workers. 9.6 hours a week for workers using 16 or more apps and 3 hours for those using five or fewer apps. However, the apps and the processes around them must be efficient.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Another well-put-together report from Asana. The academic and expert thought leader inserts are worth a read alone. The conclusions draw out some key actions, leaving the reader with the challenge of how to deliver them. Consolidating apps, for example, is not the simplest task in all cases. It often requires strong leadership and an excellent change management program.

Asana offers a tool that organisations can consolidate several apps onto. The solution includes Asana Goals that enable strategic objective settings and a collaborative work management platform that delivers focus for that collaboration.

In summary, organisations are over-collaborating and having too many meetings. The challenge is ensuring meetings and collaboration have a purpose and focus on delivering data-based outcomes. Collaboration is a requirement for organisations to function; strong collaboration with strong leadership and decision-making will enable them to excel.


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