When business email took over workplace communications in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was heralded as the solution for all workplace communication problems. It was fast, efficient, cost-effective, and accessible. But like many workplace innovations, it did not evolve fast enough to keep pace with the rapidly changing business world. Many of us now experience what is commonly known as “Email Overload”. We receive more emails each day than we can attempt to process and many of these emails are not even relevant to our daily work.
In a ground-breaking study, The Social Economy: Unlocking the Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies, McKinsey researchers uncovered that the average interaction worker spends 28% of their workweek reading and answering emails, and another 19% searching for and gathering information that is often located in email folders. That’s an incredible 47% of an average worker’s week that can potentially be streamlined and reallocated to more important role-specific work.
With email overload continuing to be a major problem and the significant amount of lost time associated with it, I am pleased to see the exciting growth of collaboration site usage in the legal industry. These online platforms put clients and their legal teams in a shared digital environment for communication, document sharing, project workflow, and scheduling. If implemented well and adopted successfully, these collaboration sites can deliver significant benefits to both legal teams and their clients.
Key Benefits of Collaboration Sites
- Secure hub for communication, documents, workflows, and schedules.
- Real-time, web-based access supports teams in different locations and on different schedules.
- Transforms communications from “one-to-many” to “many-to-many” for improved efficiency.
- Promotes team-based culture through enhanced information sharing.
While the Covid-19 pandemic and its constraints on business interactions certainly helped encourage law firms and legal departments to explore collaboration tools like collaboration sites, these innovations are likely here to stay. In fact, Bloomberg’s Legal Operations Survey in July 2020 found that 77% of its in-house legal department respondents and 44% of its law firm respondents said they are now using collaboration tools. This result was a considerable increase compared to prior surveys.
From my perspective, these trends are all good news for the legal industry as we collectively work to harness the power of technology and evolve how legal services are delivered in the years ahead.