Establishing Effective Collaboration in a New Era of Work
To maintain a competitive edge in a changing workplace, organizations must optimize their digital tools.
The coronavirus pandemic turned the business world upside down. Before March 2020, remote work and collaboration tools already existed, but many enterprises resisted work-from-home programs, out of fear of diminished productivity or weakened corporate culture. However, with the measures put in place to hamper the spread of the virus, collaboration technologies became as central to business as the telephone was during the 20th century.
As the world begins to emerge from the worst of this historic event, the workplace will look far different from its pre-pandemic state.
The physical office won’t disappear entirely (or even shrink significantly). But collaboration tools that enable work at any time, from anywhere will be an absolute must going forward, now that employees and managers have seen what is possible.
In March 2020, many organizations essentially rolled out a forced proof of concept for collaboration technologies. With employees required to work from their homes in order to comply with lockdown orders — and with no time to plan — companies had to take leaps of faith, standing up new systems and training users at the same time, unsure of the eventual results. This harried approach actually had some benefits; rather than digging in their heels and resisting the new technology, workers dived into the tools head-first, teaching themselves and their colleagues how to use collaboration platforms and discovering new ways to leverage them for mission-critical workflows. However, the overnight rollouts had some obvious downsides, including potential security vulnerabilities.
With the dust of the initial frenzy of the pandemic now settled, organizations must take a step back to assess their collaboration environments and optimize them for the future. To do that, IT and business leaders must carefully examine their current systems and workflows, as well as their business goals. Often, a trusted third-party partner can be a valuable resource during this process — especially if internal stakeholders lack experience with multiple collaboration platforms.
Although every company’s situation is unique, many organizations find themselves grappling with one of three broad problems:
- The pandemic has taken an economic toll, and the organization is simply looking to cut costs as much as possible while still empowering employees to be productive.
- A company is too small to have a robust IT staff, and business leaders are scrambling to find solutions that they will be able to support and maintain without employing in-house experts.
- Over time, an enterprise has made investments in multiple collaboration platforms, and leaders are now looking for ways to consolidate or integrate these disparate solutions.
The Benefits of Modern Collaboration Solutions
Although the business landscape has experienced tectonic shifts recently, collaboration platforms provide largely the same benefits that many organizations have been experiencing for years. The only difference today is that more business and IT leaders have come to understand just how transformative these solutions can be. As collaboration technologies have improved, organizations have changed their strategies to take advantage of new capabilities. For example, simpler, faster, clearer and more reliable videoconferencing solutions enabled some organizations to change their work and meeting strategies, even before the coronavirus pandemic forced these changes.
Some common benefits of collaboration technologies include:
Reduced costs: One of the earliest, most widespread business justifications for video meetings was the opportunity to minimize travel costs. By enabling face-to-face conversations without travel, collaboration platforms have allowed many organizations to drastically cut expenses associated with flying candidates to corporate headquarters for job interviews, and with periodically bringing executives together at a central physical location. The restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated just how many travel-intensive activities can be conducted remotely, via video. Even many industry conferences and conventions have temporarily moved to an online format.
Greater agility: With meetings set up more quickly and simply, work gets done faster. No more waiting for a time when everybody will all be in the office. Instead, project managers can take a quick glance at everyone’s shared schedules and find days and times when all parties can connect, from wherever they’re working.
More powerful collaboration: Being able to work with colleagues around the world more simply creates more opportunity for innovation. More than 85 percent of employees and executives say that a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication leads to workplace failures. And according to McKinsey, improved internal collaboration could increase the productivity of employees’ interactions by 20 to 25 percent.
Better customer engagement: Omnichannel connections open up new possibilities for improving the customer experience. With many organizations now offering customer channels that include chat, texting and video sessions, collaboration suites can help businesses keep pace with their competitors and deliver the sort of service experience customers have come to expect.
Workplace flexibility: Enabling anytime, anywhere work delivers a variety of benefits. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, many companies actually saw slight upticks in employee productivity in the early days of the pandemic, as workers proved adept at managing their own time and collaboration on their own schedules. Workplace flexibility also yields a number of benefits related to employee retention and satisfaction. According to surveys, job seekers would be willing to take a salary cut of up to 8 percent in exchange for more flexible working arrangements, and about 4 out of 5 workers say they would be more loyal to their employers if they offered more workplace flexibility.
Discover ways to support the new era of work by reading the white paper “Improving Business Outcomes with Modern Collaboration.”