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Survey confirms collaboration and the apps that come with it still suck

We're wasting so much time collaborating and toggling between apps it's a miracle any work actually gets done.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Video: Collaboration software: Time to call BS

A survey of 2,000 knowledge workers is confirming what most folks already know: There's an enterprise collaboration app overload, with most workers using an average of four apps and 20 percent using six or more.

The survey, which was commissioned by RingCentral, concludes that one platform (apparently RingCentral's) will ultimately rule. It highlights how workers are using apps for phone calls, texts, web meetings, video conferencing, and team management.

Some of the gloomy stats:

  • More than 70 percent of workers say communication volume is a challenge;
  • 68 percent of workers toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour;
  • 31 percent of workers who toggle between apps say they lose their train of thought;
  • Navigating apps is more annoying than doing chores for 53 percent of workers, paying bills for 52 percent and dieting for 50 percent.
  • 51 percent of workers 45 years old and up prefer email, with 43 percent of 18 to 44 year olds preferring team messaging.

Toss in open floorplans and it's amazing that this generation of workers gets anything done. We're so busy "collaborating" that we're gumming up the real work processes.

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And next up is a bevy of smart office technologies that'll aim to make us more productive. The smart office movement is a marriage between technology, process, and people. But the people need to be able to say no to the collaboration mafia.

RingCentral also noted that 69 percent of workers waste up to an hour each day navigating between communications apps. That wasted time adds up to 32 days per year.


Here's what's truly galling: I'm part of this collaboration lunacy. On any given day, I'm on email, chat, Slack, WebEx, Zoom, some storage-led collaboration platform (Box, Google Drive, Dropbox), and probably some other apps I'm forgetting. Oh, yeah, and there's Facebook Workplace in the mix from time to time, too. I also have access to HipChat and Jira from Atlassian and ShoreTel.

Read also: Atlassian Stride, First Take: A relaxed approach to collaborative chat | Alexa for Business likely to win in smart office, leverage AWS, Echo, developers and consumers | HP outlines new business PCs, targets smart office, collaboration | Lenovo to make bet on smart office: Here's why it makes sense | Google adds AI, collaboration tools to G Suite via Hangouts Chat

Contrary to RingCentral's take about one magic platform, I think the real answer to this collaboration nirvana is really discipline. Turn this mess off. I look like I have three heads when I note that Slack is too noisy in most situations. Facebook Workplace is avoided since I'm avoiding Facebook in my personal life, too. Zoom is a go-to that's handy, but email I'm trying to set aside. After all, there are deadlines to meet -- and chasing the collaboration dream only makes those timelines harder to hit.

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