Five ways to enhance connectivity among a scattered workforce

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The rise of the digital workforce has resulted in a double-edged sword of enhanced flexibility and productivity, offset by increased complexity in staying connected and efficiently collaborating. Yes, today’s workers have an unprecedented range of tools and applications that increase the places, platforms and processes by which they can do their jobs. At the same time, a dispersed workforce introduces new challenges from a communications and collaboration standpoint, not to mention in terms of technical complexity and security issues.

To that end, we offer these five steps to help ‘mind the gap’ of a dispersed workforce.

Understand the importance of connectivity

The pace of communication and connectivity technology evolution and adoption has resulted in a whole new set of expectations – from customers, partners, employers and employees. We need to respond faster, be able to connect to colleagues easily, and generally adapt to an ‘always on’ world.

The challenges of staying connected are both compounded and addressed by the mobile work force. Being able to work from anywhere sounds nice, but it also introduces new issues in how all that interconnectivity and communications should be managed.

Also, considering that surveys consistently indicate that in a typical enterprise, management spends up to 35 per cent of their time in meetings, and executive staff up to 50 per cent of their time, the importance of being able to stay connected to collaborate with colleagues, staff, partners and customers is incredibly important, and thus technology must evolve with changing work scenarios.

Adopt tools that work in a natural environment

Communication technology today is driven by consumers: FaceTime, SnapChat and Skype. Employees want that type of functionality in their workplace, especially if their workplace is the home or based around their ubiquitous mobile device. If you can FaceTime your grandmother with one click, why do you need a long dial string to connect to your boardroom?

A large fraction of lost productivity time is a result of technical complications – setting-up, managing, administering and securing communications and collaboration processes. Now more than ever, platforms and tools must be as painless and friction-free a possible for employees to embrace them, for the productivity benefit to be fully realised, and to realise maximum ROI for management.

Reduce the number of tools being used

So, while the consumerization of communication technology gives us a lot of options and certainly has established a model for simplicity and ease of use, it also has resulted in a crowded and complicated range of tools that IT management has to deal with. Studies have shown that an average employee uses 16 apps at work, all of which represent security, quality, integration and management issues for IT. Another study, by Frost & Sullivan, revealed that 80 per cent of employees use non-approved tools and apps at work. The result is a lack of company-wide collaboration, redundant functionality, administration confusion and security risks – in short, a major IT headache.

Adding more tools in an ad hoc way leads to user frustration, siloed work environments and a significant increase in administration costs. Sure, it’s tempting for a worker to use the newest IM app his teenage daughter is raving about at work, but each new addition adds a new level of complexity and potential risk that must be controlled.

Take back control and increase security

If there is one reason to manage the number and types of collaboration tools in use at a company, it’s security.

Security needs to be strategically planned, to be baked in from the start. A standardised set of IT programmes allows you to take back control of your programmes, enhancing security and streamlining communication within your organisation. But it must be done without being overly restrictive or disruptive to the end user.

Adopt cloud-based video conferencing

When it comes to efficient, productivity-oriented communication and collaboration, there is no question that video conferencing is an outstanding option, if not the best (besides in person interaction, of course).  Long perceived as a bastion of the corporate boardroom, it has now evolved to be an accessible tool, easily used by anyone in the work force, regardless of location, platform or job function. Thanks to cloud-based solutions, video conferencing is now a very straight forward proposition from a deployment, management and use standpoint. Simple one-click offerings provide the ease of use of consumer apps, with the performance, features, and security of enterprise solutions.

For dispersed workers and groups, the face-to-face interaction enabled by cloud-based video conferencing is unmatched by any other communication and collaboration tool– be it email, voice, web based conferencing, IM apps, etc. It results in more productivity, shorter meetings, better and clear communication, and ultimately the ability to build better relationships across distances.

We know it’s difficult to keep up with the pace of technology and the impact it has – both positively and negatively – on keeping a smooth running operation. Factor in a dispersed workforce using any number of devices, platforms, apps and tools, the task of keeping everyone synced is even more daunting. Cloud-based video conferencing can be a critical tool in addressing the most demanding communications and collaboration requirements of the modern workforce.

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