Microsoft Canada

Microsoft Canada

May 18, 2006 09:00 ET

Collaboration Nation: New Survey Highlights Canadians' Quest for Better Work-Life Balance

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 18, 2006) - New technology to help reduce time in the office - Decima survey(i) indicates that more than half (52 per cent) of Canadians would spend more time with family and friends if they could use collaborative tools to reduce in-person meetings

Finding the right work-life balance is becoming harder to achieve for busy Canadian professionals. One reason is the sheer amount of information employees receive on a daily basis. If the right tools aren't available to help employees manage information in an efficient manner, the outcome is often late nights at the office and increased stress, which can negatively impact both mental and physical health.

The latest advancements in collaborative technology, such as instant messaging (IM), presence awareness, interactive meeting solutions, and Web conferencing are helping to strike a balance for the time-strapped professional.

A new study from Decima Research shows that 64 per cent of respondents who currently use such collaborative technology believe it has improved their overall work-life balance. Almost 60 per cent of total respondents thought these tools would help them do their job more efficiently-a number which balloons to 76 per cent among those already using them regularly.

As more new tools become available, the way businesses approach everyday professional activities could be altered forever. For example, tools such as Live Meeting, a Web conferencing solution from Microsoft, allow collaboration with individuals or large groups, eliminating the need to personally attend a meeting. Indeed, the survey revealed that 61 per cent of respondents believe that conducting some of their person-to-person interactions, such as business meetings, via Web or video conference would reduce their need to travel.

Canadian professionals are clearly looking for solutions which will help them maximize their time. Remotely sharing documents, presentations or notes opens up a new level of interactivity, which can further help to reduce travel time and free up more valuable hours in the day. Not surprisingly, nearly half (43 per cent) of those polled believe that this new technology could also help reduce their stress levels.

In addition, professionals view collaboration tools as more than just remote work solutions - these tools provide a more efficient way to manage even simple communications between colleagues. For example, presence awareness allows a contact to see the availability of colleagues right on the desktop. By indicating a preferred means of contact, others are able to know immediately who can be reached when and by which method, be it email, phone, IM, text-messaging or video. Presence awareness, enabled through tools like Microsoft's Office Communicator, can offer an alternative means to contact a colleague who's otherwise engaged, or even redirect communication to another person for more immediate assistance.

Collaborative technology that improves communications is a smart, safe investment for today and for the future. Unified communications tools will continue to play a key role in helping busy professionals address information overload, and managing more demanding schedules. Whether part of a team at office or a virtual team around the world, or simply helping the kids with homework interactively while on the road, real-time capabilities can help Canadian workers rapidly and effectively share ideas. By improving the flow of information, individuals can achieve more effective results in the workplace, but also maintain work-life balance as a top priority.

What else are Canadians saying about collaborative technologies?

- Less Face to Face: Over a third of Canadians agree that face-to-
face meetings for business are avoidable.

- Dollars and Cents: 63 per cent of Canadians believe that they
would save time and money if they had the flexibility to conduct
some of their meetings using collaborative tools.

- Get It Done: Six in ten Canadians agree that collaborative
technologies help them perform their job more efficiently.

- Free Time with Family and Friends: Those aged 18-24, who are
traditionally early technology adopters, are the most likely to
spend more time with friends and family if collaborative technology
allowed them to do so (65 per cent).

(i) Decima Research: Collaborative Technologies Study, February 2006 - Commissioned by Microsoft Canada Co.

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