Philippe Gomes of Powell Software takes a look at how business leaders can establish a culture of collaboration now workplaces are split between home and office working.
Remote and flexible working looks set to stay. Just in the last few weeks, the Government has announced aims to strengthen employees’ legal rights to work from home and many large organisations such as bank lobby group, UK Finance have moved to permanent flexible working.
The global pandemic has truly transformed the way businesses operate daily, and the shift to the digital workplace has taught us that you don’t need to be in the same room as someone to work well as a team – as long as the technology is there to enable this.
Many companies through the pandemic have experienced for the first time the advantages of flexible or remote working, from greater staff productivity to reduced operational costs. But while many organisations want to continue to reap these rewards and operate in a hybrid way, the concern for most C-Suite leaders today is how to maintain a collaborative workplace that supports their company’s culture, especially as they grow and onboard new employees remotely?
Digital Workspaces Build Trust by Encouraging Communication
Effective team work is built on trust which requires regular interaction. The same barriers preventing team work and collaboration however, can occur whether employees are in the office or engaging virtually, such as leaders rewarding individual efforts over group achievements, encouraging individual competition instead of group innovation, and only having information flowing one way, top-down. The biggest obstacle to collaboration though is a lack of access to information and poor communications.
All these obstacles can hinder team work no matter where employees are; but it’s much easier for interactions to break down when teams are dispersed and without a solid communications infrastructure, keeping them connected.
This is where a virtual space like the digital workplace comes into its own and becomes a crucial remote work solution. 21% of remote employees cite loneliness as their biggest struggle with remote working but having one central digital platform that bridges all points of communications from the company intranet to video conferencing platforms, can help prevent this.
Companies can create a culture of togetherness, replicating and even enhancing the in-office experience, through this one central system with AI and gamification apps and tools; a place where remote or in office employees can exchange ideas, easily access information, and enable social interaction with each other – no matter their location or what device they use.
Clear Governance Policies Are Essential
Most organisations have started this digital transformation journey, using business communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams. Just six months after the start of the pandemic, Microsoft reported a surge in daily active Team users to 115 million.
This surge in usage, however, has led to organisations neglecting governance to an uncontrolled sprawl of Teams. Many businesses are now facing an overload of Teams’ channels, contributing towards a lack of organisation, scattered (and unprotected) documents and messages – leaving employees feeling lost and overwhelmed.
The chaos may well drive employees away from using collaboration solutions, and back to traditional methods like email which bears little weight for positive collaboration and presents teamwork challenges.
Having a clear governance policy in place prevents this and should be one of the most important conversations to have at the digital transformation stage. Ensure that the controls on platforms like Microsoft Teams are being used to manage channels and reduce the risk of sprawl. Use templates to create tailored channels for specific tasks and departments and ensure that the digital workplace you create is a homogeneous one, where digital workplace tools such as Teams and the corporate intranet are connected using smart bridging technology to make information quickly and easily accessible no matter where it is located.
Productivity is no longer hindered by lengthy information searches and employees can swiftly access documents in minutes, bringing remote teams together to deliver on projects and tasks much quicker.
Country Manager UK & Ireland, Powell Software
The Digital Workspace Is the New Water Cooler
Remote workers, in particular, need a digital workplace based on a single infrastructure with a search capability supported by artificial intelligence. The digital portal needs to be where employees can access applications, something that is becoming easier as most are based in the cloud and have an API interface that allows them to be integrated natively. This also favours the cross-referencing of data, avoiding information silos.
Productivity is no longer hindered by lengthy information searches and employees can swiftly access documents in minutes, bringing remote teams together to deliver on projects and tasks, much quicker.
Ensure that access to this information is inclusive regardless of device whether smartphone or tablet, for employees on the front line, out meeting customers or working on an assembly line, as well as easy to use for those less comfortable with digital tools. The digital workplace is an essential part of the workday for all employees to feel a sense of belonging, access information and feel part of the company culture.
Digital workplaces are also becoming a hot bed of tools to support employee wellbeing. Recent advances in apps from The Virtual Coffee Machine to The Virtual Commute, encourage people to take time out to socialise over a ‘coffee’ remotely with other colleagues or pause from work to reflect; all designed to improve remote workers’ health and happiness.
Tools that enable virtual and hybrid teams to pull together to deliver on projects and tasks much quicker, are becoming more commonplace. Digital whiteboards for virtual teams to visualise and explore innovations for example. There are also templates available for HR to onboard new recruits faster, for sales teams to respond to Request for Proposals much quicker, and brand advocacy templates with gamification that allow employees to share positive corporate stories and insight with the outside world, and be rewarded for doing so.
The Future of Working Is Hybrid
The future is hybrid, and remote workplace technology will only continue to evolve at pace improving the employee experience greatly and benefiting businesses equally. Remote technology means C-suite leaders are now in control to ‘write’ their own future of work, where work location is irrelevant but being able to leverage the talent across the workforce is everything to gaining the competitive advantage they need to drive their business forward.
About Our Guest Writer
Country Manager UK & Ireland, Powell Software
Philippe is an accomplished multi-cultural business leader with strong international experience within start-ups and large corporations. He has nine years of experience in the IT Security industry and has a strong track record in achieving revenue success. Philippe previously worked at Nintex, Prolexic Technologies, Symantec and McAfee Inc. in various positions all around Europe. He is now based in London, helping UK businesses along their digital workplace journey.