More is not always better, especially when it comes to technology for effective digital collaboration in the post-pandemic hybrid work life, according to Diageo chief human resource officer Aarif Aziz. “As the pandemic started, there was a rush for multiple collaboration platforms —Microsoft Teams and Zoom for meetings, Firefox to share files. More technology can confuse the hell out of people and can make one a lot less effective,” he told Business Today.
The data from various studies shows an astounding reliance on technology — both in terms of number of tools as well as the time spent on them — during the pandemic as people were forced to adapt to remote work. A recent Gartner Digital Worker Experience Survey of 10,800 full-time employees in U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific showed that nearly 80% of workers are using collaboration tools for work in 2021. This is a 44% increase since the pandemic began.
Specifically, the study found, the use of meeting solutions surged during the pandemic. In-person meetings dropped from 63% of total meeting time in 2019 to 33% by 2021 as more meetings took place over audio and video-enabled meeting solutions. Gartner estimates that this could drop further to 25% by 2024, driven by remote work and changing workforce demographics. Aziz also believes conducting and participating in meetings in a hybrid future will require a different skillset for people to have meaningful and engaging conversations.
“When we were working in office, we could do an effective meeting. When we were not in office, and everyone was on Zoom, we could do an effective meeting. In a situation where 50% people are sitting in office and 50% are spread across…I have personally been part of such conversations with a section here and global teams spread out. It’s not easy at all.”
The digital intensity of an employee’s day has also shot up. A Microsoft Workplace Index findings based on data analysed between February 2020 and February 2021 found that the time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled (2.5X) globally, 62% of Teams calls and meetings are unscheduled or conducted ad hoc and the average Teams meeting is 10 minutes longer, up from 35 to 45 minutes year-over-year. And despite meeting and chat overload, 50% of people respond to Teams chats within five minutes or less.
“While we realise that technology is evolving, becoming more choiceful (sic) in the use of technology, and picking the best platform is more important than just using more technology,” says Aziz.
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