Thanks to advances in technology, the nature of work is constantly changing. Employees are no longer chained to their desks, forced to work from desktop computers, or wasting time travelling across the country to hour long meetings.
The workplace is now all about remote working, omni-channel experiences, and collaboration. Indeed, a recent study found that companies that promoted collaborative working were five times as likely to be high performing.
Similarly, a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that 90% if those surveyed expected collaboration to be extremely important to their organisation over the next two years.
However, while the workforce is heading in a more collaborative direction, it’s important to not rush ahead and make changes left, right, and centre, to try and stay ahead of trends. While there are a whole host of technologies available, it’s vital to carefully evaluate the challenges faced by your company, and which tools will best meet them.
Assess current working practises
Before investing time and money into collaboration technology, it’s preferable to have a good understanding of the existing working landscape. So the first step taken by a CIO should be to evaluate the tools currently in place, as well as speaking directly to employees, to get an idea of the obstacles they’re facing. Each employee, no matter their role within the company, needs to feel as if any changes in the workplace will benefit them. These can be anything, from increased flexibility in schedules and rotas, or smaller changes, such as additional tools.
It’s important to recognise that every department will come with their own unique demands and challenges. For example, a sales team that’s out of the office more often than not, won’t benefit from shortened workdays, but technology that can help them collaborate with each other no matter where they are, will.
Use change to prompt change
The decision to implement collaboration technology may not come from an assessment of current working practices. In some cases, it will be a strategic decision taken by the upper levels of management, with the hope that it will encourage employees to collaborate more, and prompt a change in attitude within the business.
However, management will need to understand that for any change to be successfully introduced into the business, there will be a range of other aspects that will need to come together.
Lead by example, from the top down
Regardless of where the driving force for change is coming from, it’s likely to have an impact on culture and processes. To minimise any disruption, training and support will need to be put in place for all employees, otherwise the company will risk low levels of adoption, and a disengaged workforce.
It’s also vital that any new technology or concept has full buy-in from the c-suite. Demonstrating how changes will help the business in monetary terms is always a good starting point, and attributing figures and statistics to an idea will only strengthen it. For example, calculating how much money and time can be saved by the executive who constantly travels to meetings, can help deliver substantial business metrics.
Choose what’s right for each circumstance
When choosing the right collaboration tools, it’s important to recognise that every department will have their own unique demands and challenges. Similarly, each solution will have their own merits and weaknesses and be suited to different circumstances. Therefore, it’s important to investigate the technical capabilities of any solution to ensure it will meet specific needs of employees or departments.
If a large portion of employees regularly work remotely or on the road via mobile devices, there’s little point in investing in a collaboration system whose major strength is in desktop collaboration.
Look to the future
A decade ago, the nature of work looked very different to its current state. Similarly, in 10 years from now, the way we carry out our jobs may be unrecognisable to today’s practices. Given this, it’s important for businesses to future proof as best they can, to try and keep one foot ahead of technology.
Market-intelligence firm IDC predicts that global sales of collaborative applications will increase from $13.3 billion to 20.1 billion by 2020, so the market is booming. Businesses will need to make sure they’re riding this wave, and investing in productivity and collaboration tools that will provide an omni-channel experience, so employees can seamlessly work from mobiles, desktops, and any other platform.
This will also help ensure that collaboration will be consistent, even if employees aren’t in the same place, or on the same device. Any technology will need to support the new reality of bring your own device (BYOD), and remote workers. If a business can ensure this, they’ll benefit from an increase in profits, productivity, and have an edge over competitors.
Sourced by Ian Pitt, CIO at LogMeIn