The use of modern technologies to promote networked cooperation increases the work efficiency of employees and the innovative strength. This is the conclusion of the third German Social Collaboration Study of the Technical University of Darmstadt in cooperation with the management consultancy Campana & Schott.

Working digitally has become an integral part of everyday working life. For the third year in a row, the German Social Collaboration Study of the specialist field Business Informatics at the Technical University of Darmstadt in cooperation with the management consultancy Campana & Schott has examined the extent to which modern technologies for digital communication are already being used in everyday workng life in German and Swiss companies. In total, around 1,500 participants from a wide variety of company sizes and industries were surveyed.

By means of various scenarios, the study participants were asked about the most important areas of their daily work, for instance how they exchange documents or look for an expert in the company. With the help of these scenarios, the study team was able to determine the so-called social collaboration maturity level. This shows how much current digital technologies are used.

Networked cooperation: Digital beats analog

Central result of the study: In comparison to the previous year, the degree of maturity calculated across all scenarios on a scale from 1 (not used) to 7 (exclusive use of digital technologies) rose from 3.28 to 3.96. This means that more digital than analog tools are used to cope with everyday work. While employees continue to rely on personal exchange, for instance when searching for experts in the company or for exchange in interest groups, the highest use of technology takes place when forwarding information within the company or processing applications and forms. It is not surprising that there are considerable differences in the use of social collaboration tools compared to other industries. With a maturity level of 4.89, IT is clearly ahead of the other sectors, closely followed by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries (4.22) and communications (4.15). In contrast, the maturity level in health care is merely 3.74.

The larger the company, the further the digital transformation

Digitization projects often pay off in the form of greater use of technology and thus greater working efficiency. Accordingly, the maturity level of 4.5 is significantly higher in companies with many digitization projects already completed than the maturity level of 3.4 for participants for whom digitization projects have not yet played a role. The study results show that there is a correlation between company size and digitization progress. The larger a company is, the further the digital transformation has progressed. However, small and medium-sized enterprises in particular have some catching up to do in the planning and implementation of digitization projects.

High degree of maturity = increased working efficiency

With the use of social collaboration tools, around 56 percent of all employees surveyed with management responsibility want to strengthen innovative strength, reduce costs and increase employee retention in the company. The study results prove that greater use of technology leads to greater work efficiency and the associated cost reduction. However, the results also show that every second person is dissatisfied with the technical equipment of his or her workplace. For example, an improved work-life balance is the most important requirement for the digital workplace of the future. Companies should, therefore, examine where opportunities for improvement can be developed in order to increase satisfaction on the one hand and work efficiency on the other hand, for instance by integrating the home office more closely into everyday working life or reducing stress by relieving routine tasks by means of automation.

Increase of staff retention through social collaboration tools

The increasing use of social collaboration tools is making itself felt: Every second employee surveyed reports a change in corporate culture. Above all, cooperation and communication across different teams and departments and across hierarchical levels have increased and the exchange and implementation of innovative ideas has also been increased through the use of these digital tools. Likewise, 36 percent of respondents said they were more motivated to work with social collaboration tools and feel more capable of tackling new challenges. In addition, employees feel more part of the company and better understand its vision and their own contribution to it. Thus, the use of digital technologies also brings significant added value on a personal level: the joy at work not only increases employee loyalty, but also has a positive effect on the results of the work.


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Image: Campana & Schott, pixelfit /istock