How to meet the challenge of collaboration for your remote worker


We’re entering an unprecedented era for business. As we transition from groups working in central locations, to teams spread far and wide, working practices are changing too.

Collaboration

We’re experiencing the biggest shake-up of working practices since the introduction of the personal computer. 

People who have never worked from home are now doing so; people who worked remotely once a week now do it five days a week – and for the foreseeable future, week after week. Indeed, some of the changes we face may even be permanent. This isn’t just difficult for individuals. Businesses are faced with a serious challenge: how do they adapt now-obsolete working practices and continue to support their people?

So, in a world where everything from customer data to the office coffee machine has become out of date overnight, let’s discuss three key areas:

    1. How do businesses rise to the new challenge?
    2. What are the most common issues?
    3. And why is outsourcing to a specialist technology partner the quickest and best way to resolve pains?

Taking stock of our new demand for collaboration

IDC has carried out research to help us establish the expected impact of spending on major technology areas, and to show the immediate IT priorities among businesses across Europe.

Their findings – reassuringly – validate what we think we already know: the biggest challenge right now is teamwork and collaboration, and this is where technology is most likely to attract investment in the coming months.

IDC Statistis for Expected Impact on Spending For Major Technology Areas

At the time of the survey, 70% of businesses were mandating work from home for all suitable employees or extending existing home office policies. And it’s certain that this figure has risen.

Understanding how businesses can adjust

Remote working has been on the rise for a while now: indeed, Condeco’s Modern Workplace 2019 report highlighted, at the time, that 41% of employers offered some form of remote working – a figure that was set to be higher this year, even if current events hadn’t happened.

So, there are pre-existing experiences with remote working that we can draw from. They tell us that good communication is key. Leadership teams, managers, employees, suppliers and customers all benefit from being more connected.

 

What technologies do we currently have in place?

IT Managers have access to many well-established remote working solutions, suiting both current conditions and the specific needs of an organisation, including:

  • Video conferencing
  • Team collaboration
  • Telephony
  • VPN
  • Document workflows and collaboration
  • Digital approval processes and signatures

But these solutions may no longer be enough and could prove ineffective for your organisation.

Collaboration and remote working challenges

Most collaboration technologies are at their most effective when they support a central working environment. But, when used more prominently, problems escalate significantly – quickly reducing productivity, causing frustration and harming morale.

With the majority of businesses now operating almost entirely remotely, there has been a stress test of their infrastructure’s ability to support collaboration effectively. Many are experiencing challenges they cannot yet address.

 

What are these challenges?

One major issue is in giving your people the training or IT support they need to use the technology effectively. They might lack the necessary hardware, not understand the software or even be unable to login or access online files.

There are complications for a company’s culture too. Two-thirds of organisations are finding it hard to align their local culture and communication styles with new ways of working – especially when they span multiple geographies.

So, what’s the answer? Nearly nine out of 10 people feel that their company would benefit from the assistance of outside experts to help with cultural training and cross-organisational education.

Outsourcing to a specialist partner

Businesses need to resolve their collaboration issues immediately. But with their IT teams already busy handling day-to-day operations, and also dealing with the internal pressures of transitioning to remote working, there just isn’t the capacity to rise effectively to the challenge.

And even if they did, they’d address issues in a traditional in-house way, committed to existing processes with no experience of alternative solutions.

What businesses need, therefore, is a highly experienced ‘first responder’ technology partner. One with a broad and deep understanding of entire digital workspaces and the immediate resources and solutions available. 

Outsourcing to a partner will ensure that:

  • Your people can maintain their focus on business continuity
  • Issues are addressed more quickly
  • You benefit from the partners vast experience
  • You gain insight and ideas from cross-fertilisation

Looking to the future

While our immediate challenges take priority – and rightly so – it would be remiss of us to not think ahead to our future needs. 

As we look to third-party experts to help us address our current situation, and we learn from their experiences, maybe we’re seeing a glimpse into how business leaders will handle IT for years to come.

A world where businesses have IT teams at a management level only, outsourcing the execution of technical systems and solutions, while they themselves focus on their people to deliver an excellent customer experience.

Perhaps that is the true future of collaboration.


Mark Preece
Mark Preece
mark.preece@ricoh.co.uk

Communication Services Sales Manager at Ricoh UK

Read all articles by Mark Preece