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By Adam Turner   |  
May 25th, 2021

Dialing up productivity with workstream collaboration

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Adam Turner

Adam Turner, SafetyCulture guest contributor, former deputy editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’s IT section,has been writing about the technological challenges facing Australian businesses for more than 20 years.

The coronavirus pandemic is fast-tracking the take-up of “workstream collaboration”. This next generation of unified productivity and collaboration tools is designed to make it easier for colleagues to work together from afar.

Working from home is mandatory for many people when a lockdown is declared in their area. Even as the threat of the coronavirus eventually eases, working from home is set to become a lot more common in the new normal.

For many organisations, it appears the pandemic has forever severed the link between location and productivity. With this comes the ongoing idea of the hybrid office, as staff relocate during the week to stagger time spent at their desks. While they might be spread across town, or across the world, they still need to work together efficiently and effectively.

While working from home means less time commuting, the trade-off is that people can find themselves constantly jumping between apps and services such as document sharing and editing, video conferencing, chat, screen sharing and whiteboarding. Dealing with this glut of productivity tools can actually harm your team’s productivity.

Enhance collaboration

Workstream collaboration (WSC) services consolidate and streamline all these tools and more to create real-time virtual workspaces. They’re a powerful tool for ensuring that all your people are on the same page and working as a close-knit team.

As remote working becomes more common, WSC looks destined to play a key role as organisations look for ways to reduce impediments to productivity.

The category is still in its infancy but, according to Gartner, the strength of WSC is that it puts everything you need at your fingertips, without locking you into a closed ecosystem. 

Beyond simply bringing existing tools under the one umbrella, Gartner says WSC is “intentionally designed to be extended via APIs, bots or other integration methods to support advanced functionality”.

This allows WSC to draw on data from a wide range of existing business systems such as SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. When it comes to productivity, it incorporates project management and certain monitoring and compliance capabilities such as iAuditor by SafetyCulture to ensure the job is done right.

The open nature of WSC can also facilitate cross-departmental work and B2B collaboration with partners, suppliers and customers.

WSC is not a passing fad. The global WSC market will be worth almost US$8.5 billion by 2021, according to Gartner. By 2022, it predicts 70 percent of teams will primarily rely on workstream collaboration tools to get their work done.

The primary use case for WSC is everyday productivity, but Gartner says it is also used for operational, logistical and role-based teamwork associated with project- or process-related activities. Secondary uses include online communities and employee communications.

Streamline productivity

Alongside their core business systems, most organisations are already swamped with productivity and collaboration tools. Combined with these are ad-hoc back channels such as text messaging, 

Rather than add to the pile, WSC looks to keep them all in order by providing multi-channel communication in a shared workspace.

Not only can email become a productivity sinkhole, it can also become a silo of valuable information which needs to be unlocked. WSC can integrate with email to ensure that essential information is available to all the relevant stakeholders on a project, where and when they need it.

The burden of email led to the rise of business-grade instant message tools like Slack. Before too long, the barrage of business chat notifications can also become overwhelming. WSC makes this torrent of notifications easier to manage, allowing teams to prioritise where their attention is required most urgently.

One of WSC’s key strengths is that it allows collaboration and team conversations to occur in the context of the work being done, rather than dispersing key information across different platforms. Creating a central data and knowledge repository ensures that once hidden data is available to inform critical decision-making.

Task and project management is another area where WSC can ensure that teams are working in unison, from managing simple one-off jobs to large multi-year projects. 

Customise workflows

Rather than dictate how your team works, effective WSC tools allow your organisation to design business processes, workflows and task management to suit the way they work.

This can include automating routine tasks and processes, in order to free up people to deal with more value-adding tasks elsewhere. When people are spoiled for choice in terms of communication and collaboration options, WSC ensures that the focus remains on productivity.

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