“It’ll be easier if I just Dropbox you” is now a relatively familiar phrase to anyone in an office.
It used to be called ‘shadow IT’ but the prevalence of a BYOD culture in work environments means that with every employee working on their own device of preference; sharing documents and working socially, has become the norm.
Pitches are created in Google Docs, updated by all parties concurrently and the age of positive collaboration is upon us, right?
Well, it depends. If a rigid corporate culture is entrenched, the potential benefits of social working can still be a pipe dream.
But social media has certainly helped speed things up. Marketing initiatives can now be monitored and analysed in real-time. Social is often mooted as an ‘always on’ opinion poll. Nimble brands can refine and adapt their content and approach instantly in light of customer sentiment.
It’s clear that social will eventually change corporate culture forever, but what’s holding things up? In a word – trust.
Some businesses are still not willing to share. It goes against the grain. The ‘new transparency’ has seen the previously secret workings of the corporate world become more and more accessible to employees, consumers and the competition.
And it makes some board members uncomfortable, especially among market leaders who might regard this openness as weakness.
Corporate blogs are seen by some to level the playing field, with privileged information laid bare. Twitter is still mistrusted by some, regarded as a leaking tap of knowledge, nonchalantly divulged to all and sundry.
Instinctively for some, this is a bad thing. Knowledge is power and social media and its tools are thought to be making this knowledge all too accessible.
Some corporate entities still dislike social because it empowers the individual. And with this knowledge individuals can build their own power base – benefitting themselves rather than the organisation.
But more enlightened companies realise it that if this openness is embraced, and knowledge shared, these individuals will thrive within this open culture. Social working is in their interests, individually and corporately.
Some businesses will inevitably change quicker than others but others are built on a platform of social working. Any crowdfunded start-up, for instance. This is social working from the ground up, where opened and transparency are ingrained on day one.
Some companies still ban social sites from work computers – an exercise in futility when each employee has direct access to these sites via the device in their pocket.
Again, trust is the key word here. But the movement towards social means that in time, companies that don’t embrace social working, collaborative tools and a spirit of openness will be the exception rather than the rule.