Optimizing Team Collaboration in the Modern Workplace
When we talk about the concept of the modern workplace, we’re talking about how people work today. A large part of that involves the shift to remote and hybrid work environments. But the modern workplace is also defined by the ability to access and share information from anywhere and from all devices without friction.
Your challenge is how to enable that—securely and reliably. Here are three strategies to help you do that (Hint: it’s just as much a cultural challenge as it is a technological one).
Balance security, mobility, and functionality
The edge of the network has shifted to employees’ homes, coffee shops, cars, and more. This introduces risks, but it also creates opportunities for increased productivity. As such, you need to provide employees with the option to connect via the devices and locations of their choice while ensuring those connections are strong and secure.
Establishing user personas is a good common starting point. With user personas, you can understand which applications employees are using, how they’re using them, and what technology and devices they’re using to access them
User personas can:
Help you understand which applications are being used the most, the least, or not at all, allowing you to potentially eliminate redundant or unnecessary applications
Allow you to build out your technology offerings and infrastructure to adequately meet the needs and demands of your users
Discover potential security vulnerabilities resulting from unsanctioned applications (i.e., shadow IT) or devices
Help you understand where your data is, who’s using it, how it’s being shared, and more
Knowing where data is and how it’s being shared can also help you not only track the data flow but better understand what data is most essential to your firm. You can also implement security parameters around the most sensitive types of data and control and even lock down the information flow as necessary.
At ECI, we call this process “Know Your Data,” where we help our customers identify the data they have, how it’s being used, and how to secure it without impacting users’ productivity. It’s a vitally important process, especially for organizations that have a lot of data being passed between remote locations.
Communicate the benefits of new technologies and processes
At the advent of the remote work revolution, new technologies were introduced to the workforce that people may not have used on an everyday basis. Conference calls and in-person meetings were suddenly replaced by Microsoft Teams and similar applications. Messaging apps took the place of phone calls and real-time conversations.
Eventually, these became the norm. But as the new normal becomes just normal, even newer technologies will likely be introduced into the workforce, and employees will need to adapt yet again. Except, this time, the adaptation might be even more challenging for some, especially those who have grown tired of change and as a result have become set in their technological ways over the past couple of years.
Therefore, it’s important that you implement a change management program that clearly and effectively communicates the benefits of new collaboration technologies to all employees before, during, and after their implementation. For example, team members who need to develop Excel models together should understand the benefits of using a collaboration platform that will allow them to examine and work on formulas as if they were sitting next to each other.
If possible, it’s best to include the users in the technology decision-making process right from the beginning. Go back to your user personas. Look at what types of tools individuals are more likely to use and receive benefits from and base your purchasing decisions on what you discover.
You may even want to solicit opinions from users, either through surveys or hands-on testing, before making those decisions. When users are more involved in technology decisions, they’re more likely to use those technologies and you’ll maximize your ROI.
Set the tone from the top
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it wasn’t employees that determined remote work would become the norm. That charge came from senior leadership, who established work-from-home policies and effectively communicated what the process would be to the rest of the organization.
Leadership must continue to set the tone for the organization as employees adjust to remote collaboration. They must not only communicate the benefits of new technologies to employees; they must lead by example. After all, if a CEO isn’t willing to use a solution like Microsoft SharePoint, why would anyone else?
Remember, digital transformation, like the kind we’re seeing with the modern workplace, is not just about technology. It’s also about establishing a culture of empowerment.
Good CEOS like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella understand this. As he recently told The Washington Post, “the only way a business is successful and productive is if employees feel that sense of empowerment, that sense of energy and connection for the company’s mission and are doing meaningful work.”
Your organization can provide employees with empowerment, energy, and connection by giving them the tools they need to connect—and supporting them with a culture that embraces those new kinds of connections. That’s the key to optimizing team collaboration in the modern workplace.