The government are launching a ‘back to work’ campaign to encourage and reassure employers and employees that it’s safe to return to the office environment. In recent days, a number of spokespeople have stressed the importance of a return to our town and city centres for the economy, and also highlighted some of the disadvantages of remote working from a communication, productivity and collaboration perspective.
While face-to-face contact and co-working have many benefits, as businesses and organisations have discovered over the last 6 months remote working doesn’t necessarily equate to a loss of productivity. In fact, as a report by academics at Cardiff and Southampton universities suggests, the majority of people working from home are as productive, if not more so. Researchers even go so far to suggest that UK productivity could be improved with a permanent shift towards remote working.
That said, productivity and collaboration levels can only be maintained or boosted when remote employees are supported with the right IT infrastructure and applications.
How to boost productivity and collaboration remotely
Whether your organisation is considering giving employees the flexibility to work remotely even when social distancing restrictions no longer apply, or if you’re currently unable to offer a Covid safe workplace, there are ways to boost productivity and collaboration remotely.
Here we share how to leverage technology for short term and long term successful remote working.
Develop a strategic plan
Does your organisation have a long term strategic of how technology can support your business goals and ambitions? If not, you may find that some of the decisions made about the technology needed to facilitate remote working during lockdown, are not aligned with the direction the business is taking.
We recommend taking stock and exploring what systems and applications you have or need that support business goals and the modern workplace. Then develop a strategic plan that factors in the technology needed to support remote working, hybrid working practices, and provides your organisation the agility needed to respond to unexpected change.
XaaS, everything as a service
In many cases the businesses that successfully transitioned to remote working and business as usual back in March, had already embraced SaaS, PaaS and IaaS models. This gave them the flexibility to scale up, or down, the services they required such as providing more users with access to collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.
The benefits of the 'as a service' model are well known. A shift from capital to operational expenditure (capex to opex) often leads to lower total cost of ownership. Organisations get access to up-to-date technology, with fast implementation times and maintained by service providers that can leverage the economies of scale. Pay-as-you-go provides scalability to meet business requirements and react quickly to change. And they free up your IT team so they have more time and resources to focus on other projects and priorities.
Central digital hub
One of the problems we’ve seen companies struggle with over the last few months is how to keep employees connected with a distributed workforce. This is not just about ensuring employees can communicate and access information, but also have a sense of belonging that is easier to achieve in a physical office environment.
Companies that do this successfully often have a history of remote working and therefore have the tools and well-established processes to promote unity across the workforce. If your organisation has had remote working thrust upon it because of current events, you may not have had time to develop and optimise the infrastructure needed. In fact, it probably hasn’t been a priority with everything else the IT team has had to deal with.
As a result you may now find that different teams have adopted their own tools and processes to keep connected. Perhaps the Marketing department is on Slack, while Sales has discovered Yammer and Finance are relying on a weekly Zoom session.
While there is no right or wrong, and a combination of different tools for different types of communication can work successfully, a central place for all your people to connect and access company information is vital.
A modern corporate intranet creates a central digital workplace to engage employees, promote collaboration and unite a remote workforce. Intranet solutions powered by SharePoint can also help you maximise your investment in Microsoft 365. Content can be aggregated from SharePoint sites so that employees have a single view of the information they need. It can also be used to signpost employees to other collaboration tools, such as Yammer communities for different interest groups or integrate with Microsoft Teams.
24/7 IT support
Proactive and reactive IT support is more important than ever. Remote workers can only get the most out of the technology provided if they have back up should something go wrong or they get stuck. Over the last few months we’ve seen the following trends develop:
Increased demand for IT support: initially we experienced a dramatic spike in demand for support as users unfamiliar with some of the remote working tools they were given, needed more help. This has now levelled off but we’re still seeing higher ticket volumes than this time last year.
Out-of-hours IT support: with many employees continuing to juggle work and family commitments, the IT Service Desk is often required into the evening to support employees working outside of normal business hours.
Self-service support: tech-savvy employees know that if they experience a problem they can often find a solution on the internet. This has increased demand for self-service IT support solutions like ChatBots, and Knowledge Banks. Community forums are also on the increase, perhaps to replace that knowledgable colleague who employees might have previously called on when in an office environment.
If you need guidance to help you navigate the next few months, or to support long term digital transformation ambitions, do get in touch. You can book a free discovery call with one of our digital productivity consultants or speak to any of our subject matter experts about leveraging your technology. Book a call here >