With homeworking now widespread right across India and the rest of the world, we’ve never seen a bigger need for effective remote collaboration. You’ve probably thinking hard about what tools you need to manage it in your organization.
There are plenty of choices on offer, because the technology that gets people talking has developed a long way in the last decade.
In creating the perfect remote collaboration environment, there are 3 big challenges you need to tackle:
1. Choosing the best tools for the job
2. Making sure workers engage with them easily
3. Making sure your approach is secure, plus cost effective, reliable and sustainable.
So what ARE the best tools for the job?
That depends what you need the tools to do. Begin by looking at where your business activities lie:
Now you have a clearer idea of what technology you might need.
But what about points 2 and 3 – engaging your workers and making sure your approach is secure, cost effective, reliable and sustainable?
In many ways, these important issues have the same solution. It is a combination of:
- excellent co-ordination of people and their technology
- clear communication of aims and processes
- careful monitoring of all outcomes
- robust reporting to inform better decisions.
This is why.
Workers who are trained well – and who find the technology intuitive to use – are more likely to engage with it and use it properly.
Video conferencing is one very good example. Studies have shown that people may be reluctant to set up a video conference if it’s a time-consuming or complicated process – but if it takes just minutes, that obstacle is removed.
On a broader level, monitoring usage as well as measuring outcomes and productivity creates a good view of whether your approach is cost-effective, and helps with planning decisions.
This is where integrated workspace technology comes into it.
Effective collaboration involves bringing together not just people, but also key elements from a number of technologies.
Discover why work is now what we do – not where we go.
The challenge occurs when a project requires the involvement of a number of colleagues in different locations and time zones, video or audio conferencing.
Many organizations have found out the hard way during the coronavirus crisis that good agile working is not just a matter of giving your staff a laptop and downloading Skype – that’s just a recipe for creating chaos.
Homeworking and remote collaboration need to be properly organized and supported if you really want to create efficient, productive, sustainable and healthy ways of working.
Learn more about an integrated workplace.
Bringing all the elements together
Effective remote collaboration means drawing your people and technology together in genuine harmony, even if they are in multiple locations and time zones.
Attempting to do this with non-integrated technology is tricky, as anyone will tell you who has ever had to call five PAs around the world to set up a suitable video conference time.
Even Outlook can be limited when it comes to adding elements such as food and beverages for a meeting in several locations, or for making sure essential equipment is available.
Using meeting room scheduling software that integrates with all of your office systems, including your Outlook calendar, removes a lot of the difficulty.
By showing colleague, room and equipment availability in real time, it enables your meeting organiser to locate and book space in a few minutes, and send out all the invitations.
Good meeting room scheduling software integrates with Exchange and Outlook 365, providing users with a familiar interface, and also integrates with collaboration aids such as ZOOM, Microsoft Teams and Skype.
Key benefits of having an integrated approach to collaboration
An integrated approach cuts out a great deal of stress – whether it’s in the scheduling process or during the actual initiation of the call – and gets the required people into the right space, with the correct facilities and services to hand, at the right time.
It sets the bar for a perfect meeting experience, and delivers:
- Clarity for all participants about the meeting and resources needed
- Automatic notifications for everyone if there are changes to times and locations
- Booking services as part of one single meeting transaction
- A secure, welcoming visitor experience, with self-check-in
- Better workforce performance with less wasted time, improving productivity and potentially reducing indirect operation costs
- Useful reports on how your space and resources are being utilized.
Case study: Integrated meeting room scheduling software and ZOOM
ZOOM has had massive uptake during the coronavirus crisis, and has been chosen by individuals, SMEs and corporate users for its ease of use, reliability and quality.
So we considered the positive implications and user experience gained by bridging our workplace technology and ZOOM.
As this illustration shows, an integrated approach for meeting and room scheduling means it’s a simple process to organize and operate an efficient video conference.
The integrated approach with room meeting room scheduling software allows day-to-day scheduling from one single interface, whether it’s planned or ad hoc, and the same easy process can be used to create and run collaborative meetings.
Looking forward to the future
During the coronavirus crisis, many organizations have thanked their lucky stars that they had meeting room scheduling software already in place, because it has made t smoother transition to homeworking and remote collaboration possible.
Others, unsupported by the technology, have cobbled together remote operating, and made a slow journey towards something like business as usual. Workers have become used to FaceTime instead of face to face; maybe even started to enjoy being at home instead of being stuck in traffic.
Whichever category your business falls into, you have probably noticed some interesting possibilities.
The potential for reducing real estate costs, maybe, or the potential to improve your worker retention: contented, unstressed people tend to stay put. Maybe you’ve even noticed unexpected improvements in productivity.
As we emerge from the crisis – and we will, even if it takes a long time – take a few moments to assess this worldwide agile working and remote collaboration experiment, and consider how it might benefit you going forward.
Now is the best time to start planning the future shape of your operations, and selecting the right technology tools for the job – and during that process, don’t forget to keep integration at the top of your mind.