What is social collaboration?

arrow-right All posts Published on 6.09.2019

Read this article in german. 

For the past few years, hardly a day has gone by without someone mentioning social collaboration in the relevant blogs, newsletters, and online magazines about new work. And because this buzzword is so popular, it’s also unfortunately used to describe any more or less related concept and product – like social intranets and digital workplaces, or sometimes even for social media or corresponding apps. And then other terms pop up, like smart collaboration, enterprise collaboration, and many more. If this has you feeling like turning around and running for the hills, we get it!

But don’t worry! In this article (and just like in all of our other COYO 1mal1 articles) we’ll take you by the hand and guide you straight out of this labyrinth of terms. And when we’re done, you’ll almost be a new work pro. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well then let’s dive right in! In order to explain the abstract term social collaboration to you as clearly as possible, we’ll start with a short definition. Then we’ll list the 8 most important areas of your daily work where social collaboration is used. And finally, we’ll talk about the six greatest benefits of social collaboration for your organization. Off we go!

First, a definition: social collaboration

At the most basic level, social collaboration simply refers to the act of different people working together as a team or on a specific project. To do so, they use digital tools and the Internet, i.e. social software. In turn, this technology allows the members of the group to contribute to a project from anywhere and at any time, completely independently of each other.

Smart collaboration and enterprise collaboration are two closely related terms that are often used synonymously. These are currently much less common, however, so you’ll always be on the safe side using the term social collaboration.


The 8 most important use cases for social collaboration

So what are the most important areas of your daily work where social collaboration can benefit you? The management and technology consulting firm Campana & Schott conducts theGerman Social Collaboration Study” each year and has defined the 8 most important use cases in day-to-day business life. Allow us to explain what these mean in greater detail.

Find the right experts

Employee number 1 has a problem with his laptop. Employee number 2 wants to recommend a new candidate for another location. And employee number 3 could really use a specialist in team sports. However, at a large company – possibly even with several locations – nobody knows every employee’s knowledge and skills by heart. In this case, a digital employee database that can instantly identify all the matching experts helps all three employees.

Work conveniently from outside the office

Mobility is becoming increasingly important in today’s modern, fast-moving work environment. This is because in many cases, important projects simply can’t wait until an employee has returned from a business trip. And since time is also money, it makes sense for employees to use their commute to work or time spent waiting for lunch to catch up on the latest developments.

Discuss topics in interest groups

Social collaboration makes it much easier to exchange ideas with like-minded people, since they can connect regardless of their location and working hours (or even their time zone). This means that bringing experts together from different branch offices to prevent data silos or find innovative solutions to problems together is a piece of cake. But connecting people in interest groups that aren’t work-related is also easy and leads to greater employee satisfaction and loyalty.


4. Coordinate with your teams

Social collaboration not only makes it easy to interact within interest groups, but also to communicate and coordinate within a team. Who is going to do which tasks? How far along is the employee in Munich? Does he need input or assistance from his coworker in Berlin? When should the team hold the next joint conference call? All easy peasy.

Stay up to date on company news

Of course, social collaboration also makes it possible to connect the entire company, ensuring that important information and news reaches all employees. And does so in a timely manner, regardless of their location, and also much more reliably than traditional methods of communication like bulletin boards, newsletters, and employee magazines.

Access documents and files

Through social collaboration, every employee has access to the files they need for their daily work. This includes general company documents like process descriptions or cafeteria menus. And of course this also includes the files associated with a specific project that this employee is working on. These files are always up to date for every employee involved and can be conveniently and clearly viewed and edited.


7. Search for knowledge

Every employee regularly encounters questions and issues during their day-to-day work that they can’t immediately answer or solve. And sometimes they don’t even know where to find the relevant knowledge. Do corresponding files already exist? Is there an expert within the company who can help? A powerful search tool can work wonders and resolve many issues within a short time.

Directly fill out applications and forms

It’s so simple and yet so true – giving employees the ability to submit vacation requests with just a few clicks and maybe even directly finalize them saves everyone a lot of time and effort. And if they can easily upload their doctor’s note when they’re sick, they’re sure to get better more quickly. And the same is true, of course, for expense reports, training applications, and the like – the ability to submit these in digital form saves countless hours. After all, who wants to waste  precious hours of the work day on bureaucratic paper pushing?!


The 6 greatest benefits of social collaboration for your business

So now you know where social collaboration can help you in your daily work. But what effect will using the appropriate tools have on your company as a whole? We already mentioned some of the benefits. But here is a summary of the six most important advantages of social collaboration for your business:

1. Your corporate culture will improve

It goes without saying that employee satisfaction and employee loyalty go hand in hand. After all, if you feel that a company takes your needs seriously and that you belong, and if you are motivated to work for the company, you will want to stay with them. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Your employees will be more loyal

Being more connected and greater interaction increases employees’ sense of belonging. In addition, many employees greatly appreciate being able to work from outside the office and feeling productive thanks to work processes that are as efficient as possible. All these factors contribute to employee satisfaction and therefore automatically boost employee loyalty.

You’ll work more efficiently

Social collaboration can significantly improve many work processes. In fact, the “2019 Social Collaboration Study” even came to the conclusion that it can increase efficiency by up to 50%. Now if that isn’t an impressive figure!


4. You become more innovative

More interaction and better collaboration automatically encourage innovative problem solving and faster development. Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?

Your customers will be happier

More interaction and better collaboration automatically encourage innovative problem solving and faster development. Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?

You save money

Employees don’t come and go like people passing through a train station, but instead remain loyal to your company for a longer period of time, which also means less time spent on orientation. Employees can work more efficiently and effectively. They are more innovative. And your customers are much happier. Not only does all of this have a positive impact on morale, but also on your bottom line – clearly a win-win situation for everyone involved.


In summary: social collaboration is the answer!

We hope that you now better understand what social collaboration is. And with so many positive effects (wow!), you should really hurry and find out which social collaboration software might be right for you and your company. At this point, we’d like to clear our throat slightly and offer you our personal recommendation.

But if you want to read a bit more about software solutions based on social collaboration, then check out our blog articlesWhat is a Social Intranet?” and “What Is a Digital Workplace?”. Enjoy!


• Katharina Mauder •

As a freelance copywriter, Katharina writes for us on topics such as communication tools, mobile intranets and employee motivation and knows exactly which focal points are particularly interesting for the reader.

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