In today's hybrid landscape, remote collaboration tools are helping large enterprises build stronger workplace cultures, foster increased interaction, and support an overall community — and it's why they're on the rise. In an August 2021 report, Gartner found that nearly 80% of employees utilize collaboration tools, a 44% increase since 2019. And according to a recent study by Quantum Workplace, 30% of workers are currently remote and 35% are hybrid. But how can the use of these tools ensure all employees — whether they're working from home or simply in different offices — remain engaged and productive?
Successfully transitioning to a remote work setting requires the right technological tools and support. HR consulting firm Mercer found that approximately 37% of surveyed companies report moderate impacts to their remote workplace culture, with almost 5% reporting high impacts with major issues. Common challenges to consider while choosing remote collaboration tools include:
Remote technology can help employees stay connected more effectively while feeling seen and moving important cultural initiatives forward. IT managers can select technology and recommend solutions with these benefits in mind:
- Face-to-face connection: In an effort to build a connected and engaged workforce, visual contact matters. As Microsoft noted, 89% of remote workers report that video calls help them feel more connected to work and colleagues.
- Reduced social isolation: Whether the transition to working from home is difficult for extroverts or compounded for individuals living with additional social distancing, collaboration tools can help. Research from the Harvard Business Review finds that collaboration tools can significantly reduce the impacts of social isolation.
- Improved equity: Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are critical to today's work culture, and one area that's getting increased attention is technology access. Gartner predicts that in-person enterprise meetings will decline from 60% to just 25% by 2024. They recommend supporting equity for workers regardless of location or position by investing in the right cloud-based collaboration tools that every employee can have access to.
- Seamless transitions: PWC reported that 57% of companies plan to invest in conference rooms with better access to technology. IT managers developing strategies for hardware and software solutions should consider how developing plans for a variety of spaces — from home offices to on-site meeting spaces — supports seamless collaboration and transitions, no matter where teams are working from.
IT leaders selecting technology that supports interaction and engagement should keep several factors in mind to help make their initiatives a success. This includes selecting the right features to support your culture and internal workstreams. Video capabilities, effective remote work solutions, and the ability to leverage collaboration technology can ultimately help lay a technological foundation for deeper engagement. IT leaders that first map their team's unique needs and then identify the features needed may be more successful at choosing solutions with wide adoption.
Onboarding employees and providing training can help ensure teams get the most out of the collaboration solutions offered and often covers basic operations and features overviews. IT leaders should deliver training that showcases how remote collaboration tools drive value. They can also focus on specific benefits of features related to engagement and highlight use cases that apply to the teams they're training. For instance, while a sales team may get the most use out of features related to one-on-one customer meets or daily huddles, HR users may be more interested in how to conduct executive sessions. Targeted training and onboarding can accelerate time to value.
Lastly, it's important to consider the infrastructure investments needed to maximize technology. For example, IT managers may need to upgrade their networks, develop cybersecurity strategies for remote access, or invest in optimized displays with integrated conference rooms. By exploring the hardware and software needed at home and in the office to optimize collaboration, IT managers can remove common hurdles to adoption. IT directors can also get ahead of common barriers by thinking through support strategies. Who will answer user questions? How will ongoing support and upgrades be handled?
With the right tools in place, organizations can increase employee connections, build stronger teams, and foster positive company culture. IT leaders who are aware of the common pitfalls, benefits, and strategies for implementing collaboration tools will ultimately lay the foundation for long-term remote and hybrid work success.