Choose tools that bring employees together – no matter where they work.
Most employees understand the importance of working together: according to Forrester research, 56% believe improved collaboration benefits their customers. Employees are also acutely aware of the tools they use to collaborate: 85% of workers say having the right technology can make or break their ability to collaborate effectively.
Assess your current technology.
How well do your business’s technology tools and devices help your employees create, connect and collaborate with people inside and outside your company? Can they share and collaborate on documents on any device, without versioning issues? Are online meetings quick and easy to set up?
Get insights into your collaboration needs.
Ask your employees to discuss how they work together and which tools they like using – whether you have provided them or not. Your goal should be to uncover features they consider important, but that your business isn’t delivering.
Take work/life balance seriously – and take steps to back up your commitment.
Living a balanced life is hugely important for employees today – work/life balance is second only to compensation when people decide whether to seek new employment. One key to addressing work/life balance issues is to give your workers control over their schedules and tasks, allowing them to work on the go and remotely, using the devices they prefer.
Set clear, consistent and fairly applied policies.
It’s up to you how to set policies for flexi-time, remote working and other scheduling options. What matters most to employees is that they know the rules and see them being applied fairly.
Provide a remote-work toolset.
Determine the types of technology you’ll need in order to make working remotely as effective as working in the office. This can include easily accessible document and data storage; collaboration tools, such as shared calendars and team sites; and a variety of communication tools, including email, an intranet, video conferencing and instant messaging. Also consider devices you can supply that allow mobility without compromising security and perform seamlessly with the other work-related applications and tools you select.
Choose solutions that promote simplicity and usability.
When selecting employee collaboration and remote-work tools, you have a choice: Should you rely on a collection of single-purpose applications, or look for an integrated set of solutions from one vendor? In many cases, the answer comes down to one key point: choosing multiple apps from many different vendors does little to resolve common employee complaints about coordinating schedules, finding the right people or resources to do a job, working from the same version of a document, or simply enjoying the same seamless experience across devices. On this basic level – enabling employees to do their very best work – an integrated solution almost always offers better long-term value.
Take a methodical approach to choosing your tools.
Once you have your employees’ feedback on your current business technology, make a list of the capabilities – rather than specific applications – you need.
Look for integrated, cloud-based solutions and consider their benefits.
Research solutions that provide these capabilities, along with shared data and resources, so that employees can enjoy a seamless experience without having to log in and out of multiple apps or hunt down information in disconnected systems.
Focus on quality of work – no matter where employees perform that work.
Modern, cloud-based productivity tools have led to a radical shift in thinking about where and when people work. That’s hardly surprising, given that 88% of employees work from two or more locations during a typical week – and 21% work from three or more locations. Yet it’s important to assess how your business technology performs when it’s literally on the move. Can your employees switch from laptop to tablet to smartphone while working on the same document, and have confidence they’re still seeing the latest version of their work? Can they be sure that everyone on their team will receive a critical document ahead of a key deadline? Can they work offline and know that their emails, calendar and documents will sync properly when they reconnect? Do they have access to devices that are designed well for the productivity tools on your shortlist?
Assess every business application in simple terms: Can its mobile experience match its desktop capabilities? Does that experience extend to every mobile device that matters to you and your employees? Then, look for mobile devices that maximise the capabilities of those business applications.
Offline matters just as much as online.
An application should be just as functional offline as it is online: can employees still view emails, contacts and calendars? Can they access and edit documents? When a device goes back online, does everything sync and update seamlessly?
Build trust with always-on security.
Data breaches and other security incidents can affect employee engagement and performance, taking time away from productive tasks and undermining employee confidence in your business if they lose important data or files. That’s especially true when dealing with lost and stolen mobile devices – a common problem that can be either a momentary inconvenience or a major setback, depending on your business’s mobile device location and remote-wipe options.
Perform a business data security audit.
This can be completed with a few common sense questions: Where is your business data stored and how is it backed up? How do employees currently share access to files and data? How can your business control access to sensitive data? And how does your business back up and otherwise secure data on employees’ mobile devices?
Look separately at device management.
Consider how many employees have devices holding business data; how those devices are updated for new security threats; and whether any special considerations (such as regulatory compliance issues) apply to your business. As you shop for new devices for employees, look for those designed with best-in-class security in mind, and that will work well with the productivity tools you select.
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