When digitalising your business, remember that collaboration tools cannot just be about better knowledge sharing; they need to improve the speed and effectiveness of people’s efforts too.
“Our CEO used to call it ‘stupid busy’,” says Colin Miles, director of IT technical services at Virgin Media. “It is a very linear form of communication. People read it either from top to bottom or from bottom to top, and there is very little business etiquette to prioritise information.”
You may find it hard to comprehend that your main source of business communication could actually be the biggest threat to your company’s productivity. Checking, responding to and drafting emails gives employees a sense of being busy, without essentially helping them achieve useful results for the business. “We used to send top-down emails where we would discuss our results or a message from the CEO. That changed to a faceless conference call. Now we use video,” says Miles.
82% of businesses that use collaboration tools want to use even more in the future.
Unified communication isn’t a solution to squeeze more out of the workforce, but is instrumental in improving employees’ work-life balance.
Collaboration platforms should do more than help employees talk about their work; they should create new ways for employees to do their work.
As an executive, you’re constantly on the lookout for large gains in productivity, decision making and innovation you seek from technology. If not, you should start. Not sure where to start? Unified communication is the answer, and you’re about to find out how it can boost several aspects of your business.
Collaboration must become second nature
To accomplish new ways of doing things, technologies need to be embedded into the way work is performed. This way, making use of them becomes a natural and accepted part of the job.
“IT as a facilitator of collaborative working is fast becoming the norm in the workplace,” says Sally Bailey, Portfolio Chair and ex CEO of White Stuff. “Organisations, large and small, are now taking advantage of a more joined up, flexible approach.”
Through the use of collaboration technologies that improve the manner in which work is done beyond those long emails, your company could achieve impressive results that include:
Guidance about how particular processes can be optimally performed to improve quality and increase productivity.
Laying out of roles, tasks and templates in advance.
The use of the platform to hand off work, conduct discussions, share updates, review checklists and obtain approvals.
Locate documents that can be reused and share best practices.
Use workstream analytics to study how effectively processes are being performed and where they can be improved.
Incentivise desired collaborative behaviours
Do you want a workforce that enjoys being involved in moving your business forward? A collaborative working environment will only result in a faster-evolving and dynamic business operation by creating a more motivated workforce.
Leading hardware and Cloud-based computing company EMC Corporation decided to turn to gamification as a collaborative participation incentive and total activity on the game increased by 21% more than previous years. In the game with winner and awards, employees win points for completing tasks, answering questions or doing other work on the social network. Employees who complete ‘missions’ – a sequence of relevant achievements – receive awards and corporate recognition for their expertise.
To shape behaviours that actually support timely business outcomes, making collaboration technologies available is not enough. You need to engage in the change management activities that hone, encourage and incentivise desired collaborative activities.
Successful and innovative collaboration solutions are already in place at many companies, but 64% of executives believe they should be getting more value from these tools and that their companies are realising only a subset of potential benefits from collaboration technologies.
Embrace new operating models
The effectiveness of your collaboration technology isn’t just for business today, but for the future. As companies embrace new operating models, multiple organisations begin to work towards a unified goal together. This includes the company, its vendors, its partners and other stakeholders.
“A flexible, tailored solution means you can react quickly and stay ahead of the game,” says Bailey. “Responding rapidly to demand is crucial in any competitive market and with reliable and flexible technologies in place, speed of response should be a given.” Crowdsourcing and the social media are already enabling firms to hand-off particular tasks to workers outside the enterprise.
Amplify talent acquisition
The method in which talent is sourced and deployed is also a form of incorporating new trends and models of operation. Workforces are becoming combinations of internal, external and contingent employees as companies’ operating models increasingly become built on combinations of organisations.
“The use of technology in the workplace can clearly set your business apart. And attracting the very best employees is critical to the success of your business,” says Bailey. “Providing tools that support staff, drive innovation and create a healthy work/life balance, are key considerations for many when considering employment in today’s job market.”
Your employees don’t even have to be on your payroll, never mind in your building. The company’s most relevant intranet sites can help companies quickly and seamlessly plug their skills gaps through, for example, retired engineer in America or a young engineer in Australia. A job well-done could result in a reputation-enhancing public review for the skilled assistant and bottom-line boosting benefits for you.
With a strategic view of communications technology requirements, experts expect overall business agility to improve. Providing easier access to systems and people can facilitate better decision-making in response to changes in the business environment.
Collaborative communication not only boosts profits, but the overall health of your business by freeing up workers from the drudgery of email and voicemail. Creating a happier, more productive workforce and a better environment in which to work provides a better work-life balance for staff that can unlock more productivity leading to more revenue and greater profitability.