Boosting face-to-face collaboration and employee engagement is a growing challenge for employers in today’s increasingly all-virtual and hybrid work environments.

Gallup’s annual employee engagement surveys show that as recently as 2021, global employee engagement hovered around just 21%. Even more telling, the figure for “actively disengaged” workers around the globe holds steady at 19%.

A company’s level of employee collaboration is an important factor in workers feeling engaged in their work and workplace.

But simultaneously, the level of employee engagement influences effective collaboration. After all, disengaged or poorly engaged employees have little motivation to invest time and effort in collaborating.

Companies and organizations are increasingly looking to technology to enhance engagement and collaboration. This is a viable pathway if they also invest in a culture and workplace practices that strongly promote employee engagement.

This article reviews what generates a company culture where employees thrive, followed by 10 strategies for how to maximize employee collaboration and engagement through technology.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Gallup defines employee engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in both their work and workplace.”

Employee engagement manifests in two ways.

employees in the office engaging and collaborating

First, there’s the degree to which workers are invested in the work they are doing:

  • Are they feeling connected to their work?
  • Do they genuinely care about it? Do they believe it makes a difference?
  • Do they give it their best?

Second, there’s workplace engagement:

  • Do employees feel good about their work environment, supervisors, and coworkers?
  • Do they effectively and positively interact with their coworkers?

Clearly, worker engagement is critical to a company’s success. So what exactly contributes to employee engagement?

Factors That Influence Employee Engagement

Employee engagement may seem like a nebulous concept, but there are factors that promote it. These include the following:

  • Knowing my job and understanding what is expected of me
  • Feeling that the work I do is important
  • Feeling that what the company does makes a difference
  • Having the right equipment and tools for the job
  • Feeling valued
  • Working with people who value and produce quality work
  • Knowing that someone in the workplace (a coworker, supervisor, etc.) cares about me
  • Having an opportunity to offer constructive input and make suggestions
  • Having an opportunity for skill development, learning, and growth in my job and within the company
  • Receiving regular, constructive feedback on my job performance
  • Being recognized for good work and exceptional performance
  • Celebrating important milestones with the team or department

How well a company’s culture and work environment allow for positive experiences in these areas largely influences employees’ engagement in their work. For instance, the role of the employee experience manager is to foster all that.

Engagement Statistics

Unfortunately, many employees feel their need for a supportive work culture is not being met, leading to less-than-optimal engagement.

employee engagement and collaboration

Gallup’s annual US engagement survey for 2022 highlights a downward engagement trend: “After trending up in recent years, employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade — dropping from 36% engaged employees in 2020 to 34% in 2021.”

“This pattern has continued into early 2022, as 32% of full- and part-time employees working for organizations are now engaged, while 17% are actively disengaged, an increase of one percentage point from last year.”

Learn more about some important digital transformation trends here.

How Does Employee Engagement Influence Collaboration?

When employee engagement levels drop, the quality of collaboration tends to decrease as well. After all, it takes extra effort and skills to collaborate well with others. Why make that effort when you’re not feeling engaged in your work due to an unideal company culture or work environment?

people collaborating in the office

In short, company culture influences engagement. Engagement influences collaboration. And how well employees collaborate has a big impact on their productivity and satisfaction. In turn, all that helps any business grow.

With this in mind, let’s look at how to maximize employee collaboration and engagement through technology.

Related read: Designing Your Way to Success: How Office Layouts Can Boost Employee Collaboration and Engagement

Technology That Enhances Employee Engagement and Collaboration

The good news is new developments in workplace technologies make it easier than ever to engage employees and enhance collaboration on tasks and projects. Plus, that even helps them build more valuable work relationships.

In this section, you’ll find an overview of 10 key technologies that can make a big difference in how employees engage in their work in the modern workplace. Technology is also at the core of a successful digital transformation strategy.

1. Virtual Onboarding, Training, and Communication

Human resources departments have increasingly had to adjust to workers who expect to be able to do a good deal of HR interactions online.

From hiring new employees and walking them through the onboarding process to giving them job-related training, HR management software can streamline these procedures while keeping everything related to individual employees in one place.

HR software can also improve internal communications. Lack of regular, meaningful communication from a company’s leadership is one of the biggest employee complaints: 86%   say that poor communication negatively impacts how they perceive leadership.

So, investing in software that facilitates better communication is well worth the cost.

Examples of HR management software include ADP Workforce Now, Gusto, BambooHR, Zenefits, and Deputy. And here you can take a look at some digital transformation examples and see how companies implement various technologies to make their workplaces more efficient.

2. Project Management Software

Projects are becoming increasingly multifaceted, especially when they involve employees working from home in different time zones.

For employers, project management software can be a great help in organizing and allocating tasks and tracking progress in real-time.

Employees can also more easily stay on track and engaged by using the software’s built-in calendars and timelines, color-coded task assignments, and due date alerts. Messaging options round out the ease of collaborating on projects.

project management software

Project management software comes in many shapes and sizes and is designed for different audiences, including large vs small businesses and onsite vs hybrid companies. So make sure the program you select matches your company’s structure and needs.

Project management software examples include Slack, Asana, ClickUp, Monday, Zoho Projects, Teamwork, and SmartSheet.

3. In-Person Collaboration-Boosting Software

In a post-pandemic world, one of the biggest struggles that managers face is promoting face-to-face collaboration between their employees.

Unarguably, in-person interactions in the office play a significant role in improving productivity.

So, how do you entice employees to come to the office?

Luckily, there’s software that has the answer.

OfficeRnD Hybrid is an easy-to-use hybrid work software that offers a powerful set of collaboration-boosting features. It allows you to:

  • Check to see who’s in every day and who’s working remotely so you can plan your day around who’s available and where
  • Set up a weekly schedule and select your location for each day, such as working from home, being in the office, or booking a shared desk
  • Invite teammates to join you in the office for meetings, whether individually or as a group
  • Customize your invites by adding personal messages and emojis
  • Sync your schedule with up to 15 coworkers so you’ll always know who’s close by and easy to connect with and who you’ll need to closely work with in the office

Watch the video below to see the platform in action:

The platform is especially helpful for hybrid companies that facilitate desk sharing at the office to make maximum use of their available space while reducing their expenses.

It helps office managers and admins determine the right sizes for their offices and utility resources, and it provides managers with the right scheduling and connectivity tools to maximize their team’s productivity.

Lastly, OfficeRnD Hybrid enables employees to be highly collaborative by connecting with their coworkers and supervisors at the right times and in the right physical spaces.

4. Group Chat and Informal Idea-Sharing Options

In companies in which the workforce is becoming increasingly virtual, the water cooler is going the way of the dodo bird. But the need for employees to connect informally remains alive and well.

two people talking and collaborating in the workplace

Just like formal collaboration, informal interactions benefit employees by giving them the opportunity to just “hang out.”

Employees will feel more engaged, and employers will benefit from the increased sense of employee well-being that comes from having virtual chat options that help employees stay connected.

Chat program examples include Twist, Ryver, Google Chat, Rocket.Chat, and MS Teams.

5. Using Personal Devices at Work

Whether employers like it or not, “bring your own device” (BYOD) is becoming increasingly popular. Tablets, smartphones, desktops, and laptops are all fair game.

using personal devices at a hybrid workplace

According to Zippia, 75% of employees use their personal cell phones at work. While most do so with company permission, over 17% use their personal mobile devices for work without telling their company’s IT department.

In addition to the convenience of using personal devices, 75% of employees say it makes them more productive. In fact, 69% of companies see an increase in productivity and collaboration when they allow BYOD.

On the downside, BYOD raises cybersecurity concerns. Confidentiality breaches and infecting the company network with malware via personal devices are real threats.

But given the upside of increased employee productivity and engagement, looking into technology to safely implement BYOD may benefit both your business and workforce.

BYOD security software examples include N-able N-sight and ManageEngine. these are known to boost teamwork and collaboration.

6. Password Management Software

One of the most annoying hurdles employees have to jump over when collaborating on online projects is the maze of passwords they must navigate for different software programs.

Online password vaults are an easy solution to this issue. They securely store your company’s passwords and give you the option to share them with employees who need them for their work. As a result, employees experience far fewer login hassles and frustrations.

And it’s not just passwords. You can also give your employees secure access to protected documents and even credit card numbers. Plus, these technologies track data breaches and send you alerts for unauthorized use so that you can quickly update compromised passwords.

Examples of password management software include LastPass, 1Password, and Keeper Security.

7. Automated Time-Tracking

Employee time-tracking is a must for payroll and labor cost calculations, but it’s not everyone’s favorite office routine. Many employees see it as stressful, especially if they have to do it manually.

employee time tracking

That’s why time-tracking software is becoming increasingly popular. For employees, it can take the tediousness out of the daily time entries. And for supervisors, it facilitates accurate, on-time reporting on how their workers spend their time.

The marketplace now offers different time-tracking programs that may suit your company’s needs.

Pay attention to features such as whether the program is meant for small or large businesses or for companies that mainly employ remote workers — and whether they are stand-alone programs or integrated into comprehensive HR software.

Time-tracking software examples include Clockify, Time Doctor, Toggl, TimelyApp, Zenefits, and BambooHR.

In addition, check out our article on mastering workplace occupancy.

8. Easy Access to Organizational Forms and Procedures

HR departments are depositories of all kinds of organizational forms, whether it’s PTO policies, time off request forms, complaint forms, or resolution procedures.

That’s where file-sharing software comes in handy. Employees appreciate being able to find these forms online rather than having to make a trip to HR every time they need something.

Better access to organizational forms also benefits HR. Your HR staff will be grateful for not having to email individual forms out every time someone asks. They’ll also like the ability to easily update their forms and avoid using outdated versions.

Examples of file-sharing software include Sync, Zoho WorkDrive, Google Drive, and MS OneDrive.

9. Peer-to-Peer Recognition (P2P)

Recognition for work well done is one of those critical factors that influence employee engagement.

peer to peer recognition

Management used to be primarily or solely responsible for keeping track of employee accomplishments and taking care of recognitions. But that’s changing with the coming of a new concept: P2P, or peer-to-peer recognition. And new software is paving the way.

Many employees enjoy giving shoutouts to colleagues for special accomplishments. This creates a positive atmosphere of appreciation and comradery. What’s not to like about having a coworker’s praise pop up on your computer screen when you least expect it?

Examples of P2P recognition software include Blueboard, Kudos, Motivosity, and Bonusly.

10. Adapting the Workplace to Fully Remote or Hybrid Work

As the workplace evolves, employees expect to work in an environment that is optimized for modern technology. Companies can do this by equipping themselves with the latest computers and a fast wireless network.

Smart technology is key for an intelligent workplace as well. For instance, flipcharts can be useful in a conference room, but a SmartScreen — an interactive digital whiteboard that allows for remote collaboration and document saving — is superior in its ability to channel a team’s creative flow.

Desk-sharing software is becoming popular since more and more employees are working remotely, leaving many offices sitting empty.

For example, OfficeRnD Hybrid offers hybrid work management software that improves the modern workplace experience and contributes a great deal to employee engagement and collaboration.

Check out the short video below that shows how OfficeRnD Hybrid helps in enabling and managing a hybrid workplace.

Before You Go

In today’s quickly evolving workplace landscape, leveraging technology to boost employee collaboration and engagement is a must if you want to stay ahead of the competition.

At OfficeRnD, we help our customers enable and manage the hybrid work model by creating an easy-to-use, well-integrated, and reliable software solution that positively impacts their employees and boosts collaboration — all in a cost-efficient way.

Get started for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid or book a live demo and talk to our workplace experts!

Asen Stoyanchev
Senior Content Marketing & SEO Specialist | OfficeRnD
Asen is passionate about flexible working and the future of work. He firmly believes that work flexibility directly impacts one's health and well-being. When he's not writing, Asen spends his time devouring business literature, hiking, and parenting.